Localizing web interfaces: A last-pixel problem

I once translated an instruction manual for an interactive response system (voice and web) for a clinical trial of a cancer drug. The client opted not to localize their software web interface and decided to put the translations of the web interface’s labels within parentheses each time said labels appeared in the manual.¬†¬†Unfortunately the client could not be dissuaded from this misguided approach.

An opportunity was lost here. Translating the web interface would have created a much better product with less effort. Managing terminology to ensure consistency of the translations across the manual took more time and effort than creating a translation for the interface, and the final manual was cluttered with more parentheses than it had to be.

Creating good questionnaires and interfaces requires painstaking attention to detail, and translating them requires equally careful attention. When you are engulfed in a myriad of detail, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that a faulty translation can harm the whole effort.