What are the two main types of translation management?

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Business

Translation is a powerful tool for web designers, marketers and even bloggers. It brings your work to whole new audiences, making it accessible to more people around the world. 

Translation can expand your web traffic exponentially and, although there are many different types of translation services available, these can roughly be divided into two umbrella categories.

Manual translation

The manual method is often conflated with the so called “spreadsheet” model. This is the most basic type of translation management that you’ll come across, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s poor or even hugely limited. The principle of manual translation is quite simple. You’ll send a spreadsheet with a set of strings to an LSP, who will then work on translation/localization from that information.

This is nowhere near as in-depth as translation management software, but it does have its benefits. It’s usually much quicker and more straightforward than opting for a full, detailed translation. This means that it’s cheaper and useful if you need translation “on demand.” The spreadsheet method is fantastic for small projects and websites with only a few pages. It’s usually more than enough to relay simple details in another language without venturing into more budget intensive methods.

Limitation is, of course, the main drawback. Translations won’t be as in depth and the spreadsheet method loses its nimbleness when you introduce a lot of strings. If you have a website or blog with lots of densely packed pages, this makes for a congested spreadsheet. The translation takes longer, becomes unwieldy and loses many of its benefits.

Translation management software

Software becomes essential when you’ve reached the limits of what you can achieve with manual translation. Translation management software is varied. It ranges from low-cost solutions designed to deliver only basic translation, to nuanced software that doesn’t just translate but offers localization, too. Smaller businesses will likely go for the (more economical) former, whereas large-scale organizations will opt for the latter.

Software delivers accurate translation that retains context and readability, rather than simply translating individual words and phrases. It’s more accurate than manual translation, and even the more basic models take into account factors like writing style, form and structure. Being at least partly automated, translation software is also the go-to solution for translating big chunks of text.

That makes it ideal for websites or blogs that have a lot of pages or any online entity with a vast infrastructure. Unlike with the spreadsheet method, it won’t get bogged down in excessive strings and you won’t have to worry about so called “phrase congestion.” It’s also more adept at handling things like brand terminology, which is useful if you’re running a highly technical or specialized business.

Of course, the main drawback with translation software is cost. Even budget offerings tend to be more expensive than manual translation. Businesses usually undergo a similar translation journey, starting with manual and then upgrading to software as and when their budget can support it.

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