What We’ve Lost in Translation Project Collaboration

Sometimes the toughest part about human translation is developing the right strategy for Translation Project Collaboration with the translation team. Depending on the scope of the project, there are a lot of moving pieces and it can be tricky to keep things organized. But, how do you balance the use of technology to get the most from working with humans? I’m happy to tell you, there is a way.

The first time I tried translation project collaboration was in 1997 as a fresh college graduate. I worked for a government contractor in San Diego. My boss decided to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP) that was for the El Salvadoran government. They required one copy of the 100+ page proposal in English and one in Spanish. And we had a week to do it before the deadline.

At the time, tools like computer-aided translation, dropbox, google translate hadn’t been invented yet. I did know my way around Windows 95 and considered myself pretty advanced at the current version of Microsoft Word.

Since I had studied French and Italian in College, I was appointed to coordinate the team of about twelve native Spanish speakers that my boss arranged to do the actual translation.

I still remembered the day the team showed up and looked at me like “ok we’re here”. I felt very ill-equipped. In 1997, you couldn’t just google problems like you can now (maybe I could have searched AOL, but it didn’t even occur to me to do that).

I have to admit, it wasn’t an easy start. We had a couple of duplicate pages translated, hiccups on the formatting of tables and graphs, and a LOT of questions that I couldn’t answer. But sometimes when the stress piles on, you get a “eureka” moment! This happened to me. I suddenly had this flash of how to get organized!

I collected all the documents that the team was using and I printed ONE copy of the proposal.  Each linguist took a page out of the “outbox” I had created. They translated the page and saved the translated document on the central server (we did have at least a network back then, come on!). I would then integrate the translations into a master document and apply the same formatting as in English. At the end, I would be able to print the completed Spanish version and have a couple of proofreaders go through it to help with consistency.

Once we got organized, it became a lively process. We asked each other questions and debated language and meaning. As the resident native English speaker, I had to explain sometimes the intention of the source document. Sometimes I even made translation suggestions! Sadly, we didn’t win the bid. But it was certainly not due to our beautiful Spanish version of the proposal.

Twenty years later, translation project coordination is MUCH easier. We have powerful tools to aid in organizing, assigning and translating about any type of document. As an efficiency geek, I love how streamlined it is. Reducing stress increases the quality of the translation. In addition, translation can be done from a laptop from wherever and whenever. This opens doors for trained translators to have a flexible and fulfilling career; as well as making translation more available for people who historically may have been linguistically isolated.

But, I can’t help thinking that with all the powerful and innovative tools available, that something may have been lost. For years I have wanted to find a way to recreate that lively and collaborative process of having everyone in a room. This is why I created LinguistLink.

For years I have wanted to find a way to recreate that lively and collaborative process of having everyone in a room. This is why I created LinguistLink.

Although it’s no replacement for that face to face interaction, we’re using efficient technologies to enable communication for everyone involved in a project. Linguists can post questions and  discussions in a central discussion board. They can even ask the creators of the source with information. Project Managers and Requesters can track what is going on and keep things moving. Human beings have more value than just operating tools. Linguistlink is a space to bring that value to every project.


5 Easy Steps that Will Make Your Non-profit Website Stand Out

Recently we have been tasked with creating a series of courses as a non-profit website for an organization catering to advocates of domestic violence survivors. The subject itself is sensitive and with that in mind we wanted to design the site in a way that would be compelling, engaging, easy to navigate and easy to find. Here’s what we learned along the way:

Highlight your Mission Statement on Each Page of Your Non-Profit Website

An average user forms an opinion about your website and company in about 0.5 seconds from opening the webpage. Within the next 10 seconds they will decide whether they want to continue or leave and that’s how much (or little) time you have to make a positive impression and entice visitors to further exploration.

Since not all users will visit your site via the homepage it is important to state your key purpose on each page. Your values, your goal, your mission statement should be visible without having to jump from page to page.

Make your Non-Profit Website Personal

It will be far easier for the visitors to connect with your non-profit and see it in a positive light if your company tells a story.

Who is running your non-profit, how did they come around to doing it? Who are the people you’ve helped and what are their stories? Presenting a story of a person who managed to break through an abusive relationship and who now gives back by supporting others in a similar situation can be more powerful than statistics and even most impressive numbers.

Navigation for your Non-Profit Website is a Key

You should spend some time looking at your site from the end user’s perspective. If you were a first-time visitor, what would be your experience? How easy is it to find referenced information? Is your site fully functional (properly working links etc)?

Shift your Focus from the Non-Profit Website Homepage to Interior Pages

You probably think of the homepage as a virtual business card or a book cover and that’s where you focus your attention. After all it represents your company and for many visitors it’s the first contact they have with your organization. It is also, by the definition the most unfocused page, since it has to appeal to various motivations and needs of your target audience.

However, you should also think about those who find your site by typing in a search engine words or phrases that relate to your mission. They will, most likely land on an interior page and not your homepage.

A useful tool that may help you better design your site is the web analytics. What is number one page users are visiting? Surprisingly, it may not be your homepage. How much time do they spend there? Do they click the link/interior page you’re hoping to direct them to?

Be Transparent on Your Non-Profit Website

We cannot stress enough how important it is to be transparent. To many Americans it is essential to know where the donated money goes. If a charity spends large amounts of money on administrative costs and salaries or, even worse, has a vague description of spending practices it will be off-putting to your audience.

Set your non-profit apart by having clear and easy to access financial reports. Make sure the visitors know their donations make a difference and are indeed well spent.

If you are interested in help making your website an effective resource for your organization, contact us for a free consultation!


What Can Translation Vendors Do that I Can’t?

If you are looking at translation vendors to help you connect with your non-English speaking clients, you may wonder if you can manage the projects yourself. I’m going to tell you something you won’t hear from too many translation providers. . .you can!

You may consider an in-house team if you frequently need to provide translated material for similar customers in a set group of languages. Like, if you always need documents translated into Spanish, Russian, and Chinese, you might benefit from your own process. When there are variable document types and language needs, that could bring extra head-aches. One of the benefits of using a vendor is you can focus on what you do best.

Pro’s and Con’s for Building an In-House Team

There are definitely pro’s and con’s to developing an internal language team. For example:

Pro’s Con’s
A dedicated team can build expertise in your content. You may not have the infrastructure to qualify linguists to ensure they are the right fit.
You can save some money on Project Management tasks. Building this service takes time away from your already busy job.
You can be assured that files are securely handled. Specialized translation database tools can be expensive and difficult to learn
You can manage the quality process. You may not have the expertise to manage the quality process.

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Should I Support Translation In-House?

But for those of you who love DIY (Do-it-Yourself) tasks (I’m guilty of this!). You might consider if you’re really able to take on managing your translation workflow. If I haven’t convinced you, have you see these “pinterest fails”?

I’m always happier with the end result when I leave it to the professionals!

Fortunately, there are some options where you can get the best of both worlds. By partnering with Mindlink, you will have all the benefits of the professional agency while engaging with your own team. Let’s talk!

Keys to have good relationships with your translation vendors


Having reliable vendors is crucial to your project success. Most clients think that their vendors should be grateful to be able to work with them. That is a short-sighted thought, and is a recipe for a project failure. Finding the right vendor is like having a good marriage. Once you find them, treat them well, build a good working relationship with them, and appreciate them. So, what can you do to stay married with your translation vendors? Here are a few keys to remember.

Give them adequate lead times!

Sure, there are some unavoidable rush projects that you need them done ASAP. But for every project, try to provide your translation vendors as much lead times as possible. Remember that your vendors need to reach out to their linguists, checking on their availability too. By giving them enough lead times, it also helps them understand your needs, making any necessary changes before the start of the project, and preventing any hiccups during the project. So it’s beneficial for both you and your vendors when you can give them a heads up!

Remember that you’re not the only client!

It’s important to understand your vendors have other clients that they are working with too. Your vendors are doing their best to meet all of their clients’ satisfactions. Often times, clients think that they are the only client and every email or phone call should be responded or answered within minutes. It’s clearly not the case. Sometimes the project manager/coordinator or linguist that you want is working with a different client or another project.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is key in every relationship. You could sabotage your projects or even your relationships with your translation vendor with a lack of communication. Remember to communicate with your vendors if there’s a change in the project timeline, scope of the project, or even point of contact. Having a continuous communication between you and your vendors can help eliminate issues of project quality and delivery, and a headache!! Additionally, having a good communication with your vendors also helps strengthening your relationships and building trust with them.


Accept Accountability and Be Flexible

To have a successful working relationships with your vendors, learning to accept accountability is crucial. Having a success or failure in project delivery depends on both you and your vendors. When you decide to change your project scope or delay your project, it could impact your vendor’s (linguists’) availability or ability to meet your needs or deadlines. So accept your accountability when you make decisions to make any changes to your project(s).

We are all human – be respectful

Sure there are times, that your vendor upsets you, whether not being able to meet the deadline or not being to get a PO in before your quarter ends…

When an unexpected incident happens, you want to scream, write an angry email, or pick up the phone to call them. Take a breath! We are people, we make mistakes – everyone does. There might be times that vendors are just horrible and deserve your anger, but often times, mistakes happen due to everyday hiccups. There’s no need for an angry email or phone call when a small mistake happens, which could lead to a sour in your relationship with the vendor.

Building, maintaining, and strengthening relationships

When you can, meet with your vendors at their offices, your offices, for coffee, for lunch, etc. Getting to know them better, learning more about them, and developing respectful and mutually beneficial relationships. Invite them to your project meetings, asking for feedback, encouraging them to give you suggestions on how you could effectively and efficiently work together. Good client and vendor relationships are crucial for every project success.


How to Choose the Right Method for Working with Interpreters

Effectively working with interpreters can transform the way you talk to your clients. You can understand your non-English speaking clients on a deeper level and connect them to the valuable service you provide.

Have you thought you might benefit from having an interpreter, but weren’t sure where to begin? Check out this little guide I made up for to how to choose the interpreter that is right for you. 


Learn even more about interpreting by watching this video. By knowing what interpreters can do for you and your clients, you can get the most out of that service. Wouldn’t you like to communicate on a whole ‘nother level?


Check out some other helpful articles!




If you have ongoing translation projects it’s worth your while to get to know some industry lingo: it will save you time and money and help you understand translation tools. Read up so that next time your translation agency mentions fuzzy you will be clearly thinking “savings”.

CAT tools

The acronym CAT derives from “Computer Assisted Translation” and describes software programs assisting translators with their work. These programs boost efficiency and quality allowing multiple people to collaborate simultaneously on the same large text.

The most popular choices include programs such as SDL Trados Studio, Wordfast Pro, MemoQ and WordBee.

Exact match/100% match

Exact matches appear when the current source segment fully matches the one stored in Translation memory. When translating a sentence, an exact match means the same sentence has been translated before. Those generate the highest savings in your translation cost.

Basically, these are words or sentences that partially matched previous translations. These matches are usually assigned percentages greater than 0% and less that 100%. Repetition and TM matches can lead to substantial discounts for you as they allow the new documents to be partially pre-translated.

No match

This indicates the number of sentences which haven’t been translated before. Unless you give the exact same document for translation twice (which we don’t suspect you would) there are certainly going to be no match segments. These types of segments offer no savings.



Sentence or phrase that is separated from the rest of a text based on language grammar rules such as punctuation.

Segment of a source text and its translation treated as a single unit of meaning.

A translation memory is a database of your company where all the translations including the source text have been saved. This memory is built by the translation agency for consistency purposes (it comes in handy when your company uses certain terminology). New documents that you need to have translated are going to be analyzed against the translation database to find sentences that have already been translated.