Smartling

Smartling is one of the translation industry’s fastest growing and most innovative technology companies. Based in Manhattan’s Chelsea district, Smartling offers a completely turnkey and easy to use translation service for websites. They operate what is known as a translation delivery network (TDN) which dynamically translates webpages as they are served to users. There is no software to change, and the service is activated by making a simple address change in a site’s domain name settings.

Smartling is the brainchild of CEO and founder Jack Welde, who started the company with the goal of making website translation so easy that virtually anyone can do it. Until Smartling’s service came along, translating existing websites was difficult or impossible to do in a timely and affordable manner. Customers would often need to install expensive content management systems or middleware to import and export translations to and from their system or publication. This system integration cost is often prohibitive for small and mid-size businesses.

Their tool functions like an overlay to your existing website. You point a subdomain, such as espanol.yourcompany.com at Smartling, whose service in turn loads pages from http://www.yourcompany.com and inserts translations dynamically. This is very powerful because your existing website or web service doesn’t need to know how Smartling works, or even if it is there. However, you can control when and how translations are done by inserting custom tags into your web pages (for example, to require human translation only for certain pages or blocks of text).

Translators edit translations using a WYSIWG (what you see is what you get) editing tool, and make changes within the context of the original webpage (so they can see associated images, styling and layout, and better understand how the text relates to the material that surrounds it). This makes it easier for people to translate in context, which leads to better translation quality.

Smartling itself is not a professional translation service provider. They focus solely on providing a translation delivery platform and management tools. You can have your own staff translate your pages, hire a translation agency, or some combination of the two to get the best results for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Best Fit

Smartling is a great solution for companies that need to quickly roll out a multilingual website, and either don’t have the time or ability to upgrade their content management system (CMS) or web service environment to support translations (most systems make this difficult to do). Smartling is a compelling option for both small and large companies, from local restaurants and retailers, to major companies. Strongly recommended as a potential option for companies of all sizes and skill levels, especially as an interim solution while you learn about this technology.

Similar Services and Competition

This is a relatively new category of service, and one that is dominated primarily by consumer web startups. Traditional translation companies have focused more on integrating translation into enterprise publishing and content management systems, and don’t offer this type of economical and turnkey solution. Companies that offer or are developing similar services include Dakwak, GTranslate and Motion Point.

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