This review will discuss the best localization service providers for this year and will provide a brief review about each agency in the list. Most readers by now probably know something about localization, but it won’t hurt to take a minute and get on the same page.
What is localization (vs. translation and globalization)?
Localization includes but is not limited to translation. It extends to ensuring that measurements and currencies are suited to the target audience as well as taking into consideration any cultural or social issues that might affect the content or its representation. Certain words or even colors are offensive or inappropriate in some countries and not others.
A good localization agency will ensure that all these factors are accounted for in their work. The goal, ultimately, is that all the various local versions of the content can be integrated into a globalized product: globalization and localization are two sides of the same coin.
With that in mind, localization for businesses involves much more than translating a web page or document. A localization strategy and workplan is essential before the localizing and translating work begins. Website translation services, localization and contextualization are usually part of the agency’s deliverables. Sometimes, but not always, the provider includes localization of instructional materials as well as documentation. But always make sure to clarify exactly to what the agency is committing to, and a firm timetable, before getting started.
Our Localization Top Ten (in no specific order)
Without further ado, then, here is our list of top translation and localization companies in the world, each providing services for software localization, website localization, game localization, and app localization. As a rule, they will have a stable of translators in various languages and will assign an account manager to you. Each will ask you to sign a contract before the work begins, usually specifying costs and schedules. For the most part, translations are priced per word in the source document, a rate which varies by language and subject matter. Sometimes there are additional costs, such as rush charges. Some agencies, but not all, provide a signoff form for you to sign after the work has been completed to your satisfaction. Some provide a guarantee to fix any mistake found in the work for a given period after the work is submitted.
TransPerfect, founded in 1992, is a powerhouse in localization and translation. With its flagship GlobalLink technology suite, the company has been recognized by Inc. as one of the 5000 fastest-growing US companies. The TransPerfect Linguist Certification (TLC) program is considered the gold standard in language proficiency and subject-area specialization. After the 2018 buyout by Phil Shawe of his co-founder, the company boasts 5,000 full-time employees plus 5,000-plus certified linguists in its network, 90 offices globally, numbers which make it the largest privately held language services provider in the world. It claims completion of more than 300,000 projects per year.
Lionbridge, astonishingly, claims fluency in 350+ languages by “orchestrating” a network of 500,000 linguists in 5000 cities. In business for 20+ years, the company is known for its strengths in linguistics, AI, and data quality, key factors in localization success. With the slogan “we speak your language” the company claims more than 2100 global customers and over 4000 projects in 250 markets.
Stressing “fast turnaround” translation in a matter of hours, Gengo claims 65,000 customers and a 97.6% satisfaction rate. With a strong focus on automation but an emphasis on human quality, the company boasts 21,000 certified translators and more than 70 language pairs supported. It claims a transparent per-word pricing that is “a fraction of the cost of traditional agencies” and no minimum spend requirements. The company promotes its integrated API and tools to improve workflow and project quality.
Founded in 2007, Tomedes claims to have served 50,000 business customers in 200+ language pairs. The agency boasts thousands of certified linguists in its network, with 24/7 support available and free project quotations. While embracing technology for localization projects, the company emphasizes its commitment to human translation, contending that neural machine translation cannot yet match human quality for most projects. It supports 100+ languages and more than 200 language pairs. It calls attention to its one-year quality guarantee.
Founded in 2007, Day focuses on the value of its diversity and commitment to a better world from improved communication. The company says that its “global team is driven by a passion for languages that transcends every word we translate and every single customer experience we build.” It describes its mission as helping preserve languages and heritage around the globe, improving worldwide communication through accurate localized translation and interpretation services … to uphold the core values of intercultural respect and continued learning, developing opportunities for greater humanity.” The agency lists offices in 30+ US cities and over 40 more in cities worldwide. Its website lists some 30 languages supported.
Morningside claims to be the fastest growing major language service provider in North America as well as one of the largest intellectual property translation companies in the world, with a specialization in patents, life sciences, and legal translations. It claims to support more than 150 languages and provide “end-to-end technology-enabled translation, localization, and multimedia solutions.” Its headquarters are in New York City, with offices in four other cities.
OneSky offers what it calls an “end to end localization solution,” applying a unified translation management platform that works with a claimed 19 file formats and allows clients to order professional translations form its network of 1000+ translators in 50+ languages and communicate directly with translators. Unlike some of the other service providers in our list, the company focuses on software as a service to automate the localization process. The company offers a 100% success guarantee.
Having recently joined forces with Donnelley, SDL claims to the global leader and innovator in language and content management solutions, providing optimization for the content supply chain of no less than 90 of the world’s top 100 brands. For more than 25 years, with 55 offices worldwide SDL has helped companies communicate, combining human expertise with machine learning technology. The firm emphasizes automation providing a broad suite of SDL-branded modules to streamline various aspects of localization and content provision.
Stepes Translation Service
Stepes is another automation-oriented translation and localization service provider which emphasizes on-demand mobile translation with its “next-gen, machine-human translation ecosystem is built on a modern and open cloud platform”. Based in San Francisco and with 14 other offices, the company aims to reduce translation and localization tasks from days down to hours or even minutes. Its marketing focuses on cross-platform support for enterprise customers. Listed languages supported are under a dozen, less than most competitors. Calling itself the Uber of Translation, Stepes – which wants to make sure you pronounce it “steps” –adopts crowdsourcing of certified translators as part of its on-demand solution.
One Hour Translation
OHT claims to be the largest translation agency in the world, supporting 100+ languages and 3200+ language pairs. As its name implies, the company claims to be the fastest translation company in the world, with 24/7 coverage using more than 25,000 professional translators from over 100 different countries. It promises to turn around translation of a 200-word page in less than an hour. Like a microwave, a countdown timer appears when your job begins, telling you when to expect delivery. The company claims to support 80,000 business clients and 60% of Fortune 500 firms. The company seems to rely on a proprietary Artificial Intelligence-driven technology called HALO –short for Hybrid AI Localization platform – to manage the translation process. Based on its website content, localization services appear not to be the central focus of OHT’s activities.