insights | 22.12.2015

Guide to optimising your company assets for localisation

Guide to optimising your company assets for localisation

The advantage of considering your international markets from the start is that you will actually make things easier for yourself in the future. Here are some pointers:

Written content

Whether it is internal documentation, client-facing marketing material or your website you are going to need in another language, one of the best things you can do is ‘write for translation’. Whilst you should not have to drastically change any of your existing ideas for your local market, you can make slight adjustments to the copy you produce to ease the translation process further down the line:

– All text should of course be grammatically accurate so that the translator’s job is not made harder than it should be. You should try to avoid complex structures with multiple clauses, as these may complicate the message and make it harder for the target audience to decipher in translation. Always make sure your source text is finalised before translation to avoid having to make amends further down the line, as this can have a negative effect on the whole process.

– Where possible, you should limit the use of colloquial language[1]and idioms[2], as such linguistic devices prove problematic when it comes to translation (guaging the intended meaning and reflecting the style) and may obscure the message.

– You can stick to certain terminology to ensure coherence throughout your text and this will also help with the use of computer-assisted translation technology[3] , as a client-specific termbase[4]may be attached to the project, increasing the number of matches and thus lowering costs.

– You should remember that any culturally-specific references may literally be ‘lost in translation’. Obviously, these are often unavoidable in marketing texts and may not actually be an issue if the translator is experienced in transcreation[5]and can find a corresponding reference in their own language. However, to keep costs down (transcreation is often charged by the hour and not per word), stick to neutral texts with content that can be understood universally.

– Do not be tempted to use Google Translate for any of your content, or indeed ask someone internally that happens to know the language, thinking that this will mean you can just pay a translation agency for proofreading. They may actually charge you more for a post-editing service or even refuse the job. You need a professional translator, who is a native speaker and based in-country in order to get results worthy of the effort you have put into creating the assets in the first place. You can still save money through the leveraging of CAT tools with their translation memory and termbase functionalities, as any agency should pass on the discounts gained from these.

– Texts should be supplied in an editable format if they are to be processed through a CAT tool – PDFs can be difficult to handle and may cost you more if the text needs extracting first.
By ensuring your text is error-free and clearly structured, you will improve your chances of receiving a well-written translation, faster and for less money. It also has the added bonus of keeping your translation agency happy!

Beyond the text

With anything client-facing, be it a print ad or company website, you need to think about more than just the words if you want your localisation efforts to be successful. Whilst things such as images of people can normally just be changed to fit the target audience, you should try and select a universally-acceptable concept if you want to keep costs down and turnaround times to a minimum. If your whole marketing campaign, messaging and imagery included, is built around a very Western aspect of popular culture, such as art or music, this will inevitably need reviewing if you want it to resonate with people in the East. You should think about the use of colours and their significance, as well as whether your company logo symbolises the same thing everywhere or whether this needs re-thinking from the outset. It might even be that further research is required into consumer behaviour in the target culture so you can consult your translation agency already armed with an idea of what approaches may or may not work in that market.

Web development/design

If it is website localisation[6]in particular that you are interested in, it is really useful to think about this from the very beginning. You could consider creating a template that may be used across the different languages and also employing a global CMS[7]. You should work with your translation agency, which will ideally have experience in the field of website localisation, to integrate your workflows so that they are part of the whole process. It is important to think about text expansion, particularly when different characters are being used (an English text translated into Japanese could increase by up to 60%). All pages should be able to support such characters so that they display correctly, whatever the device. Some languages read from right to left and so this should be another consideration, particularly if there’s much more than just text on your pages – sometimes the whole layout needs to change. Making your website localisation-ready is a great step towards a streamlined process and could contribute to greater success internationally, as you will concentrate on creating a more user-friendly design, clear branding and informative content across the board.

The best way to ensure that the translation process runs smoothly from start to finish is to engage with a full-service agency, as they will be able to advise you at every stage and make sure that nothing is forgotten in your drive to reach audiences across the globe. You will have a single point of contact, save costs and increase efficiency. Get in touch with Xigen now to find out how we can help!

  • [1] Slang or less formal language, such as ‘the techy guys’.
  • [2] Form of figurative language that is not meant to be taken literally, such as ‘it’s a piece of cake’.
  • [3] Software used by human translators to increase efficiency. Includes translation memory, which stores translated segments for use in future projects. Examples include Trados, memoQ and Memsource. Also known as CAT tools.
  • [4] Glossary of source and target terms, specific to the client/industry. Can also include meta-information such as context and whether the term is approved or forbidden.
  • [5] Adaptation of a brand’s message to fit another culture. Also known as marketing translation.
  • [6] Translating the content from a website and adapting it to fit another culture.
  • [7] Content Management System – a central interface for managing, editing and publishing content.
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