How do I know if a translation service is any good?

To start with, the difficulty for you is that there is no easy way of knowing
whether one translation service is better than another. They all promise
accurate translations yet they are not all created equal. Some proclaim
unending quality while others promise low prices. The latter is the first
obvious danger signal. The simple truth is that good translators are not cheap,
nor should they be. The translation service also needs to add on its cut,
ranging from 10%-50% on top of the translator’s price depending on whether they
review the translations.

So, if the prices are too low, it is most likely the translator’s cut that has
suffered. This will undoubtedly mean that you’ll only get inexperienced or poor
translators. If all you want is to understand what a document is about, then
you’d probably be better off saving your money and using one of the free online
machine translation systems. If, on the other hand, the material is for your
clients then it might be worth getting the job done properly. The bottom line
is that in choosing a translation service, price should not be your ultimate
deciding factor but rather one piece of the overall translation pie.

It is easy to calculate how much you spend on
What’s not so easy is determining how much poor translations will cost you!

So set price aside and consider these skill sets when evaluating a translation
service. That way, you can be certain you’re comparing good apples with good
apples as opposed to bad apples with rotten apples. Ask yourself:

  • How does the translation service select its translators?
    Do the team members undergo a rigorous selection process? Are they
    required to prove native proficiency in THE language into which they
    translate? If not, you should seriously consider looking elsewhere. The
    money you save in affordable yet meaningless translations will more than
    be eaten up by the opportunities you lose because of them.
  • Are you sure the translators only work into their native language?
    That Portuguese-born and -raised English to Portuguese translator may be
    the perfect choice if the target market is Portugal, Angola, Mozambique or
    Brazil. But what if you want to target the UK? No matter how good her
    English may be, that Portuguese professional no longer looks like the
    right person for the job, does she?
  • Does the translation service specialise in the type of material you
    want to translate?

    If you broke your leg, you’d want the best orthopaedic surgeon to set it –
    you wouldn’t rely on a dermatologist to get the job done right, would you?
    Your translation needs shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best
    and most suitable expert either. If you’re a financial services provider,
    for example, look for a translation service that specialises in financial
  • Does the translation service specialise in some languages, or does
    it offer every language under the sun?

    You know the saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” If a
    translation service claims to be an expert in all languages, scrutinise
    that claim.

Once again, it is easy to calculate how much you spend
on translations. What’s not so easy is determining how much poor translations will
cost you. Why take your chances with a cheap translation service that produces
lacklustre results when you could have a leading translation service with
guaranteed results? When you think about it, the choice seems obvious.