Tuesday, 28 October 2014

How to save money on translation costs – 7 useful tips

Understandably, translation costs can be a concern for a lot of companies. You want to get the best possible results, but sometimes it can be hard with a limited budget. In order to help you make the most of your translation spend, here are some tips that will help you save on translation costs, without compromising the quality of the work.

1. Plan your project with translation in mind: Good planning can save a lot of money. Review your material and edit out any parts that are unnecessary or irrelevant; by cutting down the number of words you will reduce the translation costs. At the same time, take into account that some languages, like Spanish or French, are 20-30% longer than English, whereas others, like Chinese or Japanese, are considerably shorter, so plan accordingly when designing a layout and avoid costly rework later. Also, be wary of graphics, as any text in them will need to be translated; save editing time and money by only using easily-editable text in the graphics.

2. Involve your translation company early on: by getting in touch with your translation company early on in the process, they can advise you regarding the best course of action and warn you of any potential issues, whether linguistic or cultural, thus avoiding costly surprises later. Developing a relationship with your translation company will always ensure the best results.

3. Avoid unnecessary rework: make sure that the files are finalised before sending them for translation. Any changes to the source material during the translation process or after it can be expensive. If the original had been translated by the time you decide to make changes, you will have to pay for the work already carried out, plus the additional work to include the changes. It can also be messy and confusing if many changes are made throughout the process.

4. Mind the file formats: providing a format that’s easy to work with will save a lot of money. For instance, it can take hours to transcribe a handwritten or scanned text to a word processor or recreate the layout of a PDF file. By sending documents that can be worked on directly, you will save having to pay for this extra time, and the turnaround of your project will be quicker.

5. Avoid minimum charges: minimum charges are necessary due to the work that is involved in even the smallest of projects: downloading and reviewing the files, confirming availability, putting the resources in place, managing the project, checking the translations, delivering, invoicing, bank fees, etc. However, you can save by grouping small jobs together and sending them at the same time, therefore avoiding having to go through the whole process for each tiny individual project.

6. Avoid rush fees by setting reasonable deadlines: the average speed of a translator is 2000 words per day, whereas a proofread can check 8000 words a day. Anything higher than that will imply them having to work overtime or even through the night which, as you can surely understand, attracts higher fees. Avoid paying extra by, once again, planning your project accordingly and if possible adding a couple of extra days to the deadline for tasks such as file transfers, project management, etc.

7. Don’t go for the cheapest provider: as with everything else, in translation you get what you pay for. There are plenty of bad companies out there who will charge dirt cheap prices and deliver a shabby job. Of course, if don’t speak the language, you won’t notice how bad the quality is... but what you will notice is the lack of sales coming through. Instead, think of translation as an investment. Spend more money hiring a reliable company who care about your products and services and who will be able to truly speak to your customers in their own language, not only producing text that is free from mistakes, but also customising and adapting your content to the target culture’s preferences and expectations. The amount of long-term business you will get as a result will far outweigh any short-term costs. Also, by getting it right the first time, you won’t have to hire anyone else to fix the costly mistakes made by the cheap provider!

If you would like any more tips, or need any advice about translation and localisation and how to achieve the best results for your project, contact us at info@medialoc.net. We’ll be happy to help!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

It's all about empathy

The concept of empathy has long been discussed in the psychology field. But what is empathy, and what does it have to do with business? According to the Oxford dictionary, empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. While it is clear how that can help personal relationships, it is not always so obvious how that can help businesses, which tend to be focused on bottom lines and other financial metrics.

However, aren’t businesses all about relationships too? We would be nothing without our customers, and nurturing a good relationship with them is just as important as providing a quality service. One thing cannot survive without the other.
Think about it this way: we’re all customers at some point, whether you’re making a big purchase like a new computer or deciding to go for a drink to your local establishment. When you buy products or services from anyone else, how do you like to be treated? Does the quality of the service influence where you make your purchases? Most people would say yes.
Empathy helps establish great relationships with your customers, improve their satisfaction and build trust, which in turn makes them return and therefore improves your business results.

But you may ask, how do we use the principles of empathy with our current/potential customers?

  • Understand that we’re all human and may have other commitments or issues in our lives. If a customer takes a while in replying to your message, there is probably a good reason. Give them some time and, if you haven’t heard back in a few hours or a day (depending on the type of communication), send a polite reminder.
  • Educating the client is all very well, but consider the situation from their perspective. If you need to take your computer to be repaired, are you interested in hearing all the little technical details or do you just want it fixed? Language services customers are likely to simply want the job done, without having to worry about any particular details, so if you need to raise awareness about a linguistic issue, by all means do so, but keep it polite, informative and as brief as possible. And try to find a solution before contacting the client with a problem. Be helpful, not pedantic.
  • When it comes to marketing, consider how much you like receiving cold calls/e-mails. The person you’re trying to contact probably dislikes them as much as you, so unless you’re encouraged by their website to send a speculative CV or information about your business, try to establish hot leads.
  • Take into account how busy people are these days, so keep unnecessary contacts to a minimum, and keep the message short and to the point. That said, there is nothing wrong with the occasional contact to an existing client to remind them of your presence.
  • Go out of your way to offer excellent service and try help your clients when they’re in a tight spot. By empathising with their situation and giving them a hand, they’re bound to appreciate you even more.
  • Lastly, empathy also applies to larger companies that hire services on an ad-hoc basis, translation companies being the prime example. When hiring freelance translators, the key to establishing a good, successful relationship is to treat them with respect. Don’t expect to get quality work at very low rates, don’t send generic e-mails to hundreds of translators and give the job to the one who replies first, etc.

To sum it up, when in business always remember to see things from the other person’s perspective, and treat them how you would like to be treated if you were in their situation. Empathy goes a long way.

Friday, 17 January 2014

What is culturalisation and why should I care about it?

“Culturalization is going a step further beyond localization as it takes a deeper look into a game’s fundamental assumptions and content choices, and then gauges the viability in both the broad, multicultural marketplace as well as in specific geographic locales. Localization helps gamers simply comprehend the game’s content (primarily through translation), but culturalization helps gamers to potentially engage with the game’s content at a much deeper, more meaningful level.”

(Chandler, Heather Maxwell & O'Malley Deming, Stephanie. The Game Localization Handbook, 2nd ed.)

In short, we could say that, whereas localisation takes into account all the different cultural aspects, it mainly involves text, from the more basic tasks of inclusion of different alphabets and number formats, to adapting cultural references, jokes, idioms, etc. Culturalisation, then, would take this cultural adaptation one step further, to include the product's artwork and design.

It has to be pointed out that, although the quote above refers to games, culturalisation exists in other translation disciplines, such as website localisation.

Why culturalise a product?

The answer is very simple. Culturalising a game, or any other product, will make its audience engage with it much more deeply; therefore, the reaching potential in foreign markets increases dramatically. Fail to culturalise, and you risk your product not selling in a market in which it could have been extremely successful. Or even worse, you could potentially insult or offend your audience.

A good example of this is this campaign poster for the Spanish version of the TV programme The Voice, which features presenter Jesús Vázquez:

Whilst this poster works well in the Spanish market, the gesture would be considered rude in the UK, where the programme also exists, akin to showing your middle finger to the audience.

A famous example of a culturalisation fail happened in 2003, when Microsoft was forced to pull the game Kakuto Chojin off store shelves because it contained Qu'ran verses in the background of the theme song for a character. The issue became headlines news in Saudi Arabia, whose government demanded an apology, forcing the company to withdraw the game worlwide (it had been released in North America despite this).

Changing the content of a product can be quite time-consuming and expensive, of course, and that is why it's so important to consider culturalisation from the very beginning. The earlier you think about cultural aspects, the less likely you are to get a "surprise" at the end. And considering how much of a positive impact it can have on sales, it's definitely worthwhile.

For more information on the cultural aspects in videogames, please read this earlier post: http://medialoc.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-cultural-dimension-in-games.html