A guide to ensuring quality localization

How to ensure and maintain quality across your localized content.

A guide to ensuring quality localization

1 Overview

The challenge

The quality of your business’s offering should be consistent across all markets. This should filter through to the language you use to communicate your message. Once you have selected suitable third party vendors or in-house staff to provide translation services, how do you benchmark, streamline, and maintain this quality?

Your aim

To make sure that the quality of translation is benchmarked, streamlined, and maintained to ensure people receive a consistent service and your brand is consistent worldwide.

How to go about it

The guidelines below show a systematic approach to quality assurance (QA) throughout your localization program.

First consider the scale of your localization program. Start by considering these questions:

  • What translation resources and tools do we have?
  • How will we source experienced translators and reviewers?
  • Who will lead the localization quality assurance process?

2 Select your team and classify content

These steps move from basic QA foundations towards more advanced, fully-developed program strategies.

Step 1: Bolster your team of translators

Whether you have an in-house team or work through a third party vendor to source translators, use the following as benchmarks to ensure you’re setup for quality translations:

Use mother tongue linguists

Source native speakers of each language you localize.

Look for specialists when needed

If your content has specialized terminology e.g. related to products that are business to business, technical, or industry-specific, look for linguists who have experience translating this content.

Give your translators the right resources

Make sure they have product and locale-specific glossaries and style guides that are updated to relate to local-specific insights.

Step 2: Identify different types of content and their localization priority

It’s unlikely that your QA process will review every single localized word. So, audit your localized content to identify its type and how you’d like to prioritize it in your review process.

Content Type Definition Examples Review Priority
Branding/Marketing Content that supports customer outreach and sales. Website, sales collateral, marketing campaigns, taglines, call to actions High

This is typically your most visible content. It also targets potential and new customers who may have not yet built brand loyalty.
Legal Content that notifies customers of legal requirements, contains legal agreements, or is required for compliance reasons Privacy agreements, contracts, forms, and other legal notices High

Mistranslation could cause legal issues for the company.

Tip: Ideally reviewed, by translators with legal background and reviewed by legal team.
User interface/mobile app User interface (UI) or application built by your company for clients Proprietary dashboard or other UI, standalone mobile app Varies

Check traffic and usage metrics. The more visible your content is, the higher you should prioritize it for review.
Support Content that helps customers troubleshoot issues on their own Manuals, user guides, help centers Varies

Check the percentage of customers who use this content in each language and prioritize accordingly.

3 Quality assurance

Step 3: Build your content QA process

The optimal QA process covers two key checkpoints:

a. Linguistic review

Ensure the translation conveys same key points as the source content. Check that the terminology is consistent and matches your glossary, and that correct fonts are used per style guide, etc.

How you set up your process will depend on the volume of localization projects. For example:

One-time localization

A native speaker reviews the translation, ideally within a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool, so future reviewers benefit from their work.

Low-to-medium volume

The vendor provides both translations and final content review. Translations and review are completed in a CAT tool. This will help future linguists to learn from each project and use previous translations for the same content.

Continuous localization needs

Your vendor uses a CAT tool to coordinate the localization workflow and build a history - or “translation memory” of past projects. Specialized reviewers provide feedback on each localization project, and scores are tracked to identify systematic improvements and grade translators’ performance. From time to time bring linguists on site to better understand your business and content needs.

b. Technical validation

Execute the code for a localized version of your website or app to ensure the copy renders correctly. Check how content looks across screens on desktop and mobile devices. The goal is to catch errors before the localized version of your website or app is pushed to customers.

Step 4: Measure your localization quality against key performance indicators (KPIs)

You can measure and track how your localization program is working. Use the following key performance indicators as a starting point and to identify improvements over time.

For example, if your visitor conversion percentage is low in a market, deep dive into your translation quality for that region and connect with native speakers to gather feedback on content.

Linguistic KPIs • Readability/style/tone
• Compliance
• Meaning
• Grammar
• Punctuation/spelling
• Terminology
Impact KPIs • New customers acquired in markets
• Website traffic (by country and language)
• Visitor conversion percentage
• Market share percentage
• Translation ROI percentage

With the above quality management guidelines in mind, your next step is to choose the staff who will bring your content to life in multiple languages.