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Oct 3

5 Things to Consider When Translating Surveys for International Audiences

The market research industry moves fast because survey data has a shelf life. This means that every step in the survey creation process has to work like a well-oiled machine, including the translation process. If your team has answers to the following five questions you are ahead of the curve in having an efficient translation process.

Is your survey platform set up to handle other languages?

Most modern survey platforms (Confirmit, SPSS, Survey Analytics) fully support translation. If your company is considering moving to another platform or if you are new to your current platform a little investigation into how other languages are handled most efficiently is definitely worth the time. For example, by exporting a survey as XML content additional opportunities open up in translation reuse that are not available in the built in translation modules of many popular platforms. This can turn into significant bottom line savings. Make sure your translation vendor is familiar with the popular survey platforms and knows how to take advantage of these advanced features.

Is your timeline tight (of course it is)?

Market research projects always run with tight turnarounds. That’s just the nature of the business. Translation adds additional timing and complexity to an already multi-step process. If you outsource your translation projects to a translation company you want to be sure ahead of time that they are going to be able to accommodate your required deadlines and that they have a process that is optimized to deliver a speedy turnaround while still delivering a high quality, accurate translation. Things to look for in a translation vendor are experience with the MR industry, familiarity with the platform that your company uses and some great client references.

Are you surveys translation-friendly?

The more translation-friendly your surveys are, the more likely it is that your translated surveys will come back quickly, and with accurate translations. To prepare your surveys for translation try to avoid potential localization issues like colloquial speech, slang, idioms and items that may be English-centric. Your translation vendor can review your survey and provide feedback as to which items may prove difficult when it comes time for translation. The goal is to fully localize the translation so that the respondents don’t even realize the survey was translated because it reads so well in their native language. This will insure more accurate responses and reduce the risk of offending someone due to cultural insensitivity.

What are you going to do with the non-English responses?

Non-English responses can be processed in one of two ways. If translation is required then you’ll want to set up a process with your translation vendor that can really efficiently handle multiple responses in a timely enough manner than can still allow for any post-processing work that needs to be done (coding, reporting). If the end client does not require translation of the responses than the coding can be done in-language, saving time and cost and arguably producing more accurate data. Ask your translation vendor ahead of time if they can provide coding services in-language.

Will your client be reviewing the translation?

Whenever possible, client review of the survey translation is an extremely valuable step. No one knows better than the client how they prefer to brand themselves, their own unique terminology and their products and services. This knowledge, when appropriately applied to translation review, can greatly enhance the quality of the translation. The key to making this process work is the set up some standard guidelines and expectations with the client-reviewer ahead of time and detail the logistical aspects to avoid any time delays or misunderstandings. Your translation vendor will be able to offer plenty of assistance in both of these areas.


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Rick White

Rick is our Director of Client Services. His accomplishments, in over a decade with Language Intelligence, include expanding the company’s solution based services in the market research and life sciences industries, while building the company’s web presence and marketing communications program. His creative ability and strong communication skills allow him to synthesize his expertise with the insight into our clients industries, and produce localization solutions that fit the client’s needs. Rick has a degree in Photography and has studied German and Spanish.

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