Choose Translation Agency

One of the first decisions in localising your website and marketing is to assess the cost-effectiveness of a professional translation. And with an estimated 26,000 language service providers worldwide in 150 countries (source: Common Sense Advisory) it’s hard to make the right decision.

Here at Positive Partnerships, we’ve managed dozens of localisation projects for our clients and have learned the hard way that there are good and bad translators out there. Making the right decision is critical because mistakes can be expensive – and with a translation that’s not in your native language, you may not even realise it!  We’ve therefore made the following checklist of criteria to help you make the right choice, hoping it will save you time and money:

Top 10 Criteria to Choose the Best Translation Agency

1. Quality Focus. How do they select translators  (hint: they should always be native in the target language); will they revise to your satisfaction after delivery; and do they have any external awards/quality accreditations.

2. Clients. An objective indicator: if they work with global brands like Google, IBM, etc this is a good sign as such companies are likely to have robustly tested this agency for multiple language combinations.

3. Track Record. The translation business has low barriers to entry so there are plenty of fly-by-night operators. We suggest that a translation agency should have a track record of at least 10 years to deserve your trust.

4. Service. Good translation agencies will assign you a dedicated Project Manager to get familiar with your specific needs and terminology. They’ll strive to ensure that the same translator does your work to ensure consistency.

5. Specialisation. Some types of translation are highly-specialised (e.g. legal and medical) and require the translator to have worked in the field. Remember: your business could be liable if a translation isn’t accurate.

6. Formats/Flexibility. The best translation agencies will work in your preferred format (e.g. html, pdfs, apps, etc.) and will flexibly migrate the translation to the one that suits you best.  Not all agencies are capable of this.

7. Technology & Process. Automation leaves less room for error but at the same time translation is a soft skill and the human touch is key. Use of templates and translation memories (where the agency ensures that terminology is remembered) is essential but so is bespoke management of your project.

8. Localisation Capability. With abundant free tools around, translation for basic meaning isn’t enough: you must engage with your customers in their language – top translation agencies get this.

9. Speed. Speed per se should not be your #1 criterion but the ability to stick to deadlines is essential.

10. Pricing. Competitive pricing is a must: your translation agency must have a transparent process, ideally giving you a fast online quote based on word count and showing you a clear menu of options.

Is there a quick way to find a translation agency that meets the above criteria?

One short-cut is to view objective rankings. Translation hub has a useful “Hall of Fame” listing of translation agencies ranked by user rating. We recommend you visit their website and have listed their top 10 translation agencies based on user reviews below for your convenience:

At Positive Partnerships we’ve managed many campaigns in multiple languages for our clients where quality is critical. We have first-hand experience of working on high-profile projects with two of the above top 10 as ranked by (which also has a handy freelancer search if you don’t wish to work with an agency).

In our opinion, the best global provider is TRANSLATED.NET which ticks all the boxes above and whom we have found to be consistently reliable, professional, deadline-conscious and well-priced. Our other good experience working on behalf of our clients was with Lingo 24 Ltd which is based in the UK like us.

Please do your own due diligence and verify that the translation company chosen meets your requirements, maybe by asking them to do a test translation beforehand.

Good luck and happy localising – don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help!

Image credit: woodleywonderworks via Flickr.

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