By Val Swisher published January 29, 2015

Intelligent Content Meets Translation

One of the drivers for using intelligent content is its positive impact on translation. Using intelligent source content can improve the cost, the speed, and the quality of translation – our favorite trifecta. In fact, even though the advantages of intelligent content go far beyond saving money on translation, companies often justify the move to intelligent content (including content management systems, new authoring tools, new workflows, new processes, new teams, etc.) based on the translation ROI alone.

Translating chunks, not entire documents

Intelligent content is structured. Often, structured content is broken up into chunks known as topics. To build a content asset, such as a whitepaper or an eBook, chunks are sewn together – assembled­ – in a particular order.

If your content is not structured, then you must typically send everything – the entire monolithic file – to the translation company when you want to retranslate even a short passage within that file. Even if you have made only one minor change, the entire file must be sent. This is because the file is your smallest unit of content.

If, instead, your content is structured, then your smallest unit of content is the chunk. And you only need to send chunks that have changes to translation.

Sending a smaller unit of content to translation saves money and time. “Why is that?” you might ask. Even if only a small piece of content needs to be retranslated (or translated for the first time), there is overhead associated with managing a larger file. And you risk having words that have already been translated changed, if the translator feels it was originally translated inaccurately. Smaller chunks of content are more nimble. They can be handled more quickly, too.

Separating text from formatting

The real translation savings using intelligent content has nothing to do with translating the words at all. It has to do with the layout process when the translated content is formatted—the desktop publishing (DTP).

When you use content that is not intelligent, the DTP process can be as high as 50% of the overall translation cost. This is a lot of money spent on having someone lay out every document in every language.

On the other hand, using intelligent content, the text is separate from the format. This means that only the text is sent to translation. Once the text is translated, it is returned. The translation company does not do any DTP. Formatting takes place later, when a style sheet is applied to the file. Applying the formatting later in the process, in an automated way using style sheets, is much more efficient and saves a great deal of money on the translation process.

Reusing content and translations

Another benefit of intelligent content comes from the opportunity to reuse existing content. If you “write once, use many,” you save on content development costs. You also save on translation costs. In addition to reusing the content in the source language (such as English), you can also reuse content that has already been translated.

The amount of the savings depends on how much reuse you have. But I think we can all agree that it doesn’t make any sense to write content that is almost the same, but not quite, as existing content. It is a lot more intelligent to create your content so that it can be reused and then to reuse it as much as possible.

Multiply the number of words reused, rather than translated, by the number languages. Multiply all of that times the average price per word, and you can see how quickly the savings add up. You also save time when you reuse content and translations.

What about quality?

Theoretically, if we pay more attention to the intelligent content we are writing, the resulting translations will be of higher quality, too. Let’s think about it this way:

Write something one time. Write it so that it is reusable in many different content assets. Write it really well, because this is the only place the content will exist. Then, translate it once. Quality content in, quality translations out.

Intelligence and translation: better together

Using intelligent source content when you are translating allows you to experience the following:

  • Cheaper translations
  • Faster translations
  • Better translations

The trifecta is achieved for these reasons:

  • You only send the smallest unit of content to translation.
  • Separating the text from the format can result in significant savings on DTP.
  • Reusing source content means you can reuse existing translations, too.
  • Focusing on your smaller chunk of reusable, intelligent content often results in higher-quality source. This means higher quality for every language.

So, let’s get smart – make that intelligent – about content and translation. Everyone wins.

Learn more

You can find out more about intelligent content and translation here:

Image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski, Content Marketing Institute

 

Author: Val Swisher

Val Swisher is CEO and Founder of Content Rules, Inc. Her firm operates across the entire content life cycle from content strategy, to content development, to what she calls GG&R – governance, global readiness, and ROI. She blogs at http://contentrules.com/blog and can be found on Twitter @contentrulesinc.

Other posts by Val Swisher

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