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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Translation Agency

Five questions to ask yourself before hiring a translation agency

Finding the right translation agency is a pivotal step for any company operating globally. Not only will translation and localization help give you a competitive edge as you expand into new markets, you will find that it is a fundamental component to your company’s growth and identity. To better help you prepare for the translation process, we suggest you ask yourself these 5 questions before hiring a translation agency.

Before you even consider hiring a translation agency, you must understand what you need, want, and expect from the translation process. Without this knowledge, you run the risk of inaccurate quotes, extended timelines, or even unacceptable translations. But with a thorough understanding of your business’s concerns, you will be able to ask the translation agencies the right questions and provide them with the proper information to ensure that they are the right fit for you.

1. What exactly needs to be translated?

If you have a document, do you only need the text translated or do you also have images with imbedded text? Are there tables or charts? If you’re looking into software localization, will you also need the help documentation translated along with the software? Understanding what types of content needs to be translated will not only give you a better idea of the potential cost and scope of your project, but a better idea of what types of translation agencies are appropriate for your needs. You also want to assess whether or not any of the materials you need translated are restricted or confidential, in which case it may be necessary to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

2. Who is your target audience?

Will the materials be used internally or only seen by a handful of non-critical people? If this is the case, the time it would take to complete the translation may be slightly more important than absolute stylistic or linguistic accuracy. Or will the content be used as marketing material, and be a highly visible component of your business, meaning that the quality of the translation is of paramount importance since the content will be a direct reflection of your brand’s identity.

Understanding who your content is meant for will also give you a better idea of the cost. Creative copy adaptations typically bill at a higher rate, as does highly technical content or content that is translated into more costly languages such as Finnish or Japanese.

3. What is your content style and brand voice?

Do you have specific words that fit your business’s style and/or voice? Do you have your own glossary or style guide with a list of preferred terms? Or what about any terms that should be avoided due to legal reasons such as copyright infringement?

Understanding your brand identity will help you convey to your agency what sort of tone and feel you want when it comes to your content. You may prefer short, simple phrases that are precise and powerful. Or you may want more sophisticated language that is more detailed and elegant. This will be imperative to finding what agency you believe can best capture the style you are going for.

Note: For translation and localization projects, you’ll want to create a translation glossary to ensure adherence to your company’s brand and voice. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide.

4. What types of services will you require?

Does your documentation require desktop publishing? Do you need QA and testing for your software? What about your multilingual videos – do you need production help? Or what about original copywriting for certain international markets? Each agency will have different rates for each of these services, so to minimize costs, you must compare the rates of all services you are expecting to use. This will also help you get a better idea of the potential timeline for the translation project, and rank the components of your project in order of priority.

5. How do you envision your translation experience?

Are you comfortable sending proprietary information to an outside party? How involved would you like to be in the translation process — do you prefer a hands-off approach or would you like to be included in every step of the journey? How much control are you willing to hand over to the agency?

Not only will this information help your translation agency identify your needs, it will help you determine what type of agency you should work with in order to feel completely comfortable and ultimately, satisfied with the translation process.

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