Why is test translation a poor indicator of quality?

We often perform test translations for customers. We are happy to complete a 300 word translation text to demonstrate the quality of our translation work. However, test translation is often a poor indicator of translation quality.

Here is why we believe test translations are bad.

Long-term translation teams are not reflected in a translation test

Not all translation companies use the same translation teams to do the work as do the tests. Some translation companies use cheaper translation resources after a few months or years to improve their profitability.

AT STAR we use the same teams year-after-year. Over time our translation teams build up an in-depth understanding of your products and marketing positioning that directly impacts on the quality of the translated text. This long-term approach to quality is not reflected in a once-off translation test.

Test translation

Translation Terminology only partly reflected in a translation test

Terminology is perhaps the most significant subjective criterion influencing perceived quality. Terminology selection is at least partly subjective.

At STAR, our industry experts work with our customers to continuously refine the preferred terminology. This refinement process greatly improves the translation quality but is not reflected by a once-off translation test.

Ultimate Accuracy or Best Style?

Ultimate accuracy
For texts such as legal and medical, the key quality criterion is the accuracy of the translated text. For legal and medical texts it will be better to sacrifice some style and text flow to get the ultimate accuracy.
Best Style
For texts such as marketing, the paramount quality criteria are style and readability.
Best of both
The very best results for mixed texts such as medical marketing, technical marketing, financial marketing is achieved when the translation teams have an in-depth understanding of your products and requirements. This result will not be achieved by a once-off translation test.

Top 10 Criteria for Rating Translation Agencies

  1. Does the agency ask relevant questions about terminology, style etc?
  2. Do they work with you or just provide a service?
  3. Have they made any recommendations to you?
  4. Is their style improving over time?
  5. Are costs increasing / decreasing?
  6. How do they handle your questions or feedback?
  7. Do they use the same translators all the time?
  8. What is their terminology management process?
  9. Do they have a process to manage and track quality related questions?
  10. What is their process for ensuring consistent translation results?

How does your current translation company rate?