We’re kicking off our new A to Z of Translations with A for ‘Automotive’!
We’ve had our second busiest ever quarter after completing a 700,000-word project for one of Germany’s largest distributors of camping and caravanning equipment.
The holiday season is nearly upon us, and our client needed help translating their entire website from German into UK English to get caravan and motorhome enthusiasts back in the outdoor spirit! From cooking utensils and camping tents to bike racks and awnings, our team of experienced translators completed this extensive technical project in just six weeks.
After the project, our team came together to reflect on the challenges it had presented and how we had solved them to ensure that our client received high-quality, consistent and accurate translations just in time for the Easter holidays.
Challenge 1: Consistency
As this was such a large project with a tight deadline, it was assigned to five different team members. This meant that collaboration was key to maintaining consistency across the translations. After all, no two translators will have the exact same style of writing! The content involved a lot of specialist terminology and lengthy product names that incorporated key technical details. These had to be translated accurately but also had to read well in English.
Solution: We had regular discussions to ensure all the team were following the same approach. When it came to lengthy product names, for example, we decided to introduce commas to separate product details and aid readability. We also agreed on general guidelines with regards to other aspects, such as capitalisation. This led to us creating a style guide that can be used for future projects. We were also able to access other team members’ translations in the project TM (translation memory) as they were confirmed in real time, so we could regularly check that terms were being translated consistently.
Impact: Our in-depth team discussions allowed us to ensure that the client’s website was translated consistently. This ensures professionalism on the website and helps to create a trusted brand. Consistent translation of technical terminology also means that visitors to the website can easily navigate their way between similar products, in turn leading to more sales and more satisfied customers – a great user experience on our client’s website is also more likely to lead to customers returning!
Challenge 2: German-specific concepts
Despite the technical nature of this project, we still came across some more cultural concepts that posed a challenge when translating for an English-speaking audience. This could be anything from an e-scooter product description that described the relevant German road regulations to the different categories in the German version of the game Trivial Pursuit. And just to confuse things, the UK automotive brand Vauxhall is actually called Opel in Germany!
Solution: As a team of native UK English speakers, we were able to pick up on concepts that would cause confusion for a UK audience. We discussed our processes as a team and also checked with our client how they would like us to approach certain aspects, for example whether to localise Opel. We provided adaptations for an English-speaking audience where necessary; for example if a travel guide was written in German, we specified this in the product description to avoid any confusion.
Impact: Localising product names and descriptions where necessary, and if agreed with the client, meant that we could produce translations that wouldn’t make the target audience feel alienated by concepts that they are unfamiliar with. A UK-based visitor to the website would therefore be more likely to feel an affinity with the client’s brand and could feel sure that they had made an informed decision as to whether a product is right for them, leading to increased sales and greater customer satisfaction.
Challenge 3: Volume
The sheer volume of a project like this can present obstacles. With 700,000 words to translate for numerous products from a variety of brands including Truma and Dometic, it was inevitable that there would be some issues in the source text, especially when the texts had been extracted from the client’s website.
Solution: Attention to detail was crucial for this project. Our team managed to spot any incorrectly spelt brand names and inconsistencies in measurements and made sure that these were researched, queried if necessary and correctly translated. Splitting the project across a team of five experienced translators meant that we could go the extra mile and flag issues to our client where necessary.
Impact: Our client is a long-standing customer who trusts the quality of our work and was therefore more than happy to place the entire project within our own team rather than further splitting the project between other teams to meet the deadline. This meant that we could ensure that the website content was consistently and accurately translated and could also provide an additional service in drawing their attention to any typos or inconsistencies found on the website. This in turn helped improve on the original German text, boosting our client's reputation online for both their German and English-speaking customers.
Challenge 4: Acronyms and abbreviations
Acronyms and abbreviations are often used in technical texts to ensure that readers can quickly access the key information they need. The challenge in this project involved understanding whether acronyms and abbreviations were part of brand names and therefore needed to be kept the same in English or whether they needed translating and if so, what they meant. We also sometimes came across very short product descriptions with little context and no images to assist us with our understanding. Anyone who has worked with translators in the past will know that context is everything!
Solution: We carried out thorough research on our client’s website and in their catalogue and accessed other reliable sources in the caravan industry, including technical product manuals, to help us gain a better understanding of the products in question. When necessary, we queried abbreviations and acronyms that were unclear with our client. We also kept a structured, smooth query process within the team to avoid any duplicated questions.
Impact: Our in-depth research meant that we provided accurate translated content for retailers and customers to make informed decisions on their purchases. Accuracy is essential when translating technical content; an incorrect measurement for a caravan roof cover could lead to serious issues for our client. We made sure that any potential issues were avoided by being thorough in our research and clarifying abbreviations and acronyms with the client if they were unclear.
The busiest start to any year in the history of ecls translations gave us the opportunity to translate the content of an entire website from German into UK English. Our technical translators were able to demonstrate their outstanding attention to detail and deliver accurate, consistent and thoroughly researched translations.
The project was varied, covering everything that could possibly be needed for a camping trip or caravanning holiday. We enjoyed working together to discuss ideas and terminology and thanks to our in-depth research, our client can now present a professional, accurate English version of their website to customers and retailers to highlight their growth and increase sales by tapping into a whole new international market.
We’re looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2023 will bring but for now, we’re going to have a well-deserved Easter break!
If you’re going camping or taking your motorhome out on the road this Easter, we hope you have a brilliant time!