Risks you should consider when buying a user manual translation

In today’s world, as many companies are pushing to globalize their products and services to new markets, a perfect translation is more important than ever.  A user manual translation is a major component to consider when planning to sell a product in a new locale.  Some companies have taken the approach of completely globalizing most of their manuals – think IKEA assembly instructions.  It’s important to notice, though, that they still have parts of the manual translated: usually specifics on the safe use of a product.  Since there can be serious implications and unintended consequences to misuse of a product, there are some risks that you should be aware of if you’re looking to buy a user manual translation.  Here are a few things to consider:

User Understanding

Manuals exist for the primary purpose of conveying information to a consumer, usually about the proper use of a product. In some areas, such a manual may be required by law – and even when it isn’t, confusion over how to use the product may result in an atmosphere of consumers who don’t think positively of the product, brand, or company involved. Errors in translation can have a significantly negative impact on overall user understanding, even to the point of instructing the consumer to use the product in an explicitly incorrect fashion. In the worst-case scenario, this may lead to injury and/or death. In lesser cases, lack of user understanding could cause financial damage to a company or otherwise impair their ability to operate effectively.

Legal Defenses

Manuals also serve as a way for companies to protect themselves from legal charges. When a product has the instructions for use included, and these instructions clearly indicate how the product should be used (with the standard disclaimer about how the company is not liable for anything that happens as a result of failing to follow said instructions), the company has a powerful defense against charges of wrongdoing. Incorrect user manual translations can result in a situation where legal teams can make a strong case that the production company failed to adequately explain the use of the item and ensure that the users would be able to use it safely. This could result in enormous penalty fees as a result of legal action and, depending on how bad the situation is, even force the shutdown of the entire business.

Difficulty Spotting Errors

During a product testing phase, the creators usually have the ability to thoroughly examine it for problems. These can range from physical defects in toys to programming code that may be updated at some point in order to improve the product. User manuals are frequently created after consulting with the design and manufacturing teams in order to ensure that all information is as correct as possible, but it can be difficult to spot errors if no one can actually understand what’s been written. This can be particularly problematic when user manual translations cover many different languages, since the meaning of the text should be exactly the same no matter what language it is being read in.

Allowing Someone Else to Do the Job

In a way, this can be the biggest risk of all for a company. User manual translations ultimately come down to the issue of trust because at some point, the company with the manual being translated has to accept at face-value the assurance that their text has been faithfully translated. Even following the basic technique of “Trust, but Verify” by asking another translator to check the material, user manual translations are effectively a risk for the company where the smallest mistake could mean millions of dollars in losses.

Why Does this Matter to You?

These are just some of the possible problems and complications that can be associated with a user manual translation.  Your translation may have none of these issues, but you should bear these risks in mind and ask your translation provider about them before you buy anything.

Interested in getting a free quote for your user manual translation? Get your FREE quote now.

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