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Myth busting: Can good translations be quick and cheap?

Translation is one of those things where, in terms of quality, you will get what you pay for. If you buy translation at rock-bottom prices, you will likely receive a rushed, poor-quality translation that has potentially been pushed through machine translation.

It really is worth finding a quality translation provider and paying more for it. After all, when you created new marketing collateral for your home market, how much time and money was spent getting the content right and making the layout and design fit your standards? There were probably multiple teams involved. Providing this content to your global audience through translation requires the same high standards.

A good way to understand this is by looking at the “project management triangle”, shown below. You will probably have seen this before. Your challenge is to pick only two sides of the triangle, based on what you consider to be important. Let’s look at the possibilities you come up against with this approach:

  • Fast speed + low cost = low quality: Unfortunately, if you go for the quick and cheap approach to translation, you are going to receive something that is of a subpar quality which will take more time and money in the long run to bring up to a high standard.
  • Low cost + high quality = slow turnaround: If your main priority is high-quality translation, and you go for a less expensive solution, then expect to wait a little longer for your delivery. To get around this, you should either plan ahead to ensure that extended turnaround times are accommodated, or speak to your translation company about putting together a team of translators with a shared translation memory to help speed things up a little bit.
  • High quality + fast speed = expensive: When it comes to delivering quality translations within a short timeframe, be aware that translators will expect you to pay a premium to cover extended work hours or to work across a weekend. They will be sure to do a good job, but they will expect to be paid for any extra effort which goes above and beyond their usual working terms.

I hope this blog post has busted a common misconception about translation and helped you to better understand the translation industry. For more in-depth information and advice, read the full-length guide “5 common misconceptions about translation” here. The guide examines the following five misconceptions:

  • anyone who speaks a foreign language can translate
  • translations are always word-for-word
  • machine translation will eventually remove the need for human translators
  • the translation industry is pretty small
  • translation is quick and cheap
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Samantha Brazel

Product Manager at Webcertain
Samantha is the Product Manager of the Translates department at Webcertain. With over eight years of experience, she has developed a professional background in translation and localisation management. She manages a team of Project Managers, partners and engineers who are invested in continual improvement and keeping up with translation industry developments. She enjoys new learning opportunities and developing her skill sets. Originally from the UK, Samantha now lives in France.

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