Localization and Language Quality Assurance

Translation Quality Assurance

Quality is highly important in any work, localization not excluded. Quality work ensures that the client is happy and receives the best results for the investment. The quality of our work can also be our job security – if we do quality work, we are more likely to have repeat business from existing clients and have referrals to get new clients. With Quality Assurance (QA) being a vital part of the localization process, it is best to have a way to ensure quality at all levels of the process. Whenever I work on a project, I establish a system of various checks on the appropriate quality level should be in place for all participating in the project.

Quality standards already should be in place for elements such as design, programming code, content, Website Content Management System (WCMS), branding, and marketing. With quality content and quality design in place, localization can proceed.

Quality should be the goal when selecting translation and QA team members. Be sure to check on the credentials for your translation team members, whether they are internal, provided by the vendor, or a group of freelancers. Some elements to help assess whether you have the right people for the job include:

  • being native speakers of the target language and being fluent in the language and culture of the source text
  • translation certifications (ATA or others)
  • membership in translation local chapters of translation associations (many have minimum standards for translators to meet to be members)
  • industry experience
  • references

Quality Assurance is an ongoing task for each individual team member as well as for the group as a whole. When managing translation or localization projects, my translation and QA team members are professional enough to ensure that their work is double-checked and performed to requirements before submitting to the next level.

Two types of formal Language QA process can be identified: Language QA and Post-Production QA.

Language QA

This can be super obvious, but basic QA standards should be applied even before translation begins. It is important to review the original content and to ensure it is suitable for translation by checking on:

  • grammar
  • subject matter
  • copy version (is it the final version, has it received all the necessary client-side approvals)
  • for strings, ask for terminology listings (or help develop it) and any helpful context to go along with them
  • file formats (for original files and the requested outputs); for graphical files, if there are no pre-rendered, layered files available or translators are not able to open such files, arrangements must be made to ensure that translators know how to organize their translation of such graphical files

Experienced localization professionals can make recommendations in case anything in the copy or images associated with the original may need to be adapted to be fully localizable. Once the original is accepted, the translation process can commence.

Providing efficient, high-quality translation appropriate for the maximum comprehension by target language carriers is the ultimate goal. Translation professional should take many things into account, so all can be carefully and correctly rendered into the target content. Careful research may be necessary. This is also where terminology and industry context can help ensure translation is done right. Some of these include (but are not limited to):

  • tone and register of the source text (is the text very formal and serious or joking and light-hearted)
  • presence of metaphors, idioms, or culturally-specific references
  • subject matter
  • geographical references
  • numbers
  • dates
  • measurements

Unless specifically requested, striving to minimize any cultural specificities that can drive away or offend smaller groups within a language group should be attempted.

Translation is then checked through the QA process. Having a strong, qualified, reliable QA team for this purpose is essential. I have been very lucky to always have such on my projects. There are several approaches to ensure the quality of translated materials. Whatever process is chosen, one thing is for sure – Language Quality Assurance is simply a must! The method of choice for QA depends on:

  • the type of project;
  • the resources available;
  • the standards set to measure quality.

One of the more established and, perhaps, well-known models for QA process is based on the LISA (Localization Industry Standards Association) method. While LISA as an organization has not been in existence for a good while, the language quality model it helped create is in full force and is very effective for QA purposes. This approach is customizable to client’s needs and can be made as simple or as complex as necessary, taking into account style and voice preferences, as well as taking into account basics, such as proper terminology, basic typos, accuracy of meaning based on the version of language chosen, etc.

Launched in 2012, TAUS Dynamic Quality Framework is gaining more and more industry acceptance and usage since its appearance. It is known for its higher level of customization based on the original content and the possibility to vary acceptable quality standards and being able to pay only for the level of rigorousness needed. It is very suitable for dynamic content.

Ultimately, translation quality will depend on:

  1. Translation Accuracy
  2. Relevance to product / industry
  3. Translation Structure and Grammar
  4. Language and Style in Translation

No matter the model used, language QA step ensures that the customer receives final translations that are ready to be plugged into the test site for further QA.

Post-Production QA

After providing the client with quality translation of the original content made with all the localization specifics in mind, the job is not done. A test site (in the case of a website) or a test platform (for apps, etc.) needs to be set up to ensure that the translated content shows up correctly in all the languages and that no design issues creep in through various browser or hardware platforms.

Many times, the client would have their own internal QA to verify adherence to their standards for design, branding, etc. After the test site is reviewed, and the client’s side QA is done, the localized product / website can go on to live release. And the work does not stop there. A once-over QA check needs to be done after the go-live date to ensure that everything is working properly.

Whenever any disputes or differences of opinion arise on any level (translator, language QA, post-production QA, client-side QA, etc.), it is always important to closely consider the nature of the disputes or variances of opinion, their source, and keep in mind the ultimate client goals and requirements. After all, the client is always right; with the help of a responsible localization professional, the client’s results will be right – for the languages, cultures, and products at hand.