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The importance of understanding the user in effective translation

The importance of understanding the user in effective translation [Photo: iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimages]
in Language Connect

When it comes to translating any materials, be they contracts, learning materials, websites or labelling in industry or medicine, it's important that the language, terminology and flow are all carried over into the target language every time. 
However, the accuracy of translation is not the only thing that matters. It's also important to consider end users and the way they will interact with any translated materials to make sure you are getting it right and maximising engagement. Here, we take a look at just a few of the most important considerations. 
Sector knowledge
Regardless of sector, it's important that you take into consideration what the end user knows about it, to ascertain what kind of language needs to be contained in target materials. 
For example, if you are sending a contract to someone who works in the same sector on the other side of the world for a business service with which both parties are au fait, then a straight translation can be an easy and time-saving tool to make use of. 
However, if you are providing educational materials, giving someone healthcare and medicinal advice or providing information that the end user will not previously have been likely to come across, then it's important to consider if, during the process, the translator should pay more heed to using plain, straightforward language, explaining any technical and sector specific terminology to give the user the best chance of digesting target materials in a way that benefits them. 
The next thing it's important to understand is what platform the user will be likely to view or consume any translated materials on. This is mostly important in sectors like ecommerce and elearning, where you are asking people to engage with a website, and to do what you want them to do. 
It's not the easiest of tasks, but knowing how people use the internet, or how they shop online, can be a good starting point for knowing how to present translated content. It's not all just about the language after all. For example, according to elearning Industry, as much as 47 per cent of elearning is now carried out on mobile devices. Presenting materials in a mobile-friendly way involves more than just translating, so it's important that you look into things like this to ensure that you are providing what users need. 
It's a similar tale when it comes to localising ecommerce brands. It's not enough to just convert a website into a new language. It has to target the user and how they will engage with the site when it's live. For example, according to McKinsey, more than half (53 per cent) of shoppers in Korea who use a mobile to carry out transactions will not use other platforms to shop, so to not consider them and how they engage with your brand can be to lose out on their custom altogether. 
What will the target user be making use of translated materials for? This is a very important question to ask at the early stages of any translation project, because it will, like other considerations, play into how something is translated and presented to the eventual user.

For example, if you are presenting someone with an ecommerce site or a holiday booking page, you need to make sure the translation takes across the same descriptive, exciting language as the original text to excite and entice users to buy. 
On the other hand, if something is going to be used for elearning and training, you need to know where and what for. Is it best to present the translated materials in a very plain and explanatory way to make sure users get as much as possible from it, or should you make sure you are laying everything out in as detailed a way as possible? It all needs to be considered so you know you will have a product at the end that is of value to both your organisation and end users. 
In any translation process, there are a number of considerations to be made. For example, you always need to know what languages you are targeting, the level of expertise required from the translator, and why. But at Language Connect, we also seek to find out about the end user. Who is the target audience, what do they know, and how are they likely to engage with and use the final product? Knowing these things can give us the best chance of providing you with a translation service that ticks all the boxes.

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