Conducting Usability Tests on Your Written and Translated Documents

As certified Miami translators and writers, our intention is to produce reports, manuals, presentations and other materials that meet the needs of our clients and benefit the target audience.  But at times, even the most skilled translators and writers can use terminology that can have different meanings to different people.  In the same respect, an inexperienced writer or language translator might produce a manual or report that is difficult for the targeted readers to understand.  In these situations, it might be appropriate to conduct usability testing.

Usability testing can be quite costly and for this reason, it is primarily intended for special documents and presentations.  Usability testing generally involves the use of people who closely mirror the backgrounds of the intended audience for the presentation of document.  When conducted correctly, the people chosen to be included in the study will be analyzed and conclusions will be drawn about how well the intended audience will comprehend the material.

While there are a wide range of written and translated documents that are suitable for usability testing, some of the most common types include technical manuals, instruction guides and even sales proposals that involve complex operations, procedures, operations and services.

The research design of the usability analysis is based upon the type of data you are presenting and the actions and steps that must be performed correctly.  A less expensive alternative to full blown usability analysis involves the use of surveys and focus groups that provide insights the ease at which the material is understood and retained.  However, the best way to determine if the intended audience will understand and follow the information correctly is through observation.

Understanding and Translating Proposals

Despite their variety, most Atlanta Translation workers find that the proposals that they are tasked with translating can be classified in three ways, according to origin, audience, or intention.

Based on its origin, a proposal is either solicited or unsolicited, that is, requested by someone or initiated on your own because you have recognized a need. International business and government proposals are most often solicited and originate from a customer’s request.  Once the request is approved, a purchasing manager invites companies to submit proposals.

Based on its audience, a proposal may be internal or external, that is, written for members of your organization or clients and funding agencies. Based on its intention, a proposal may be a planning, research, or sales proposal. These last categories by no means account for all variations among proposals.  In fact, certain proposals may fall under all three categories, but these are the types you will most likely have to write. Each type will be discussed in upcoming blog entries.