Why User Experience is Crucial for Translation Technology

Given that almost three quarters of the respondents in our Translation Technology Insights (TTI) survey told us that they believed they would lose competitive advantage without translation productivity (TP) tools, it made us think harder about the impact that user experience has on productivity.

And when we think about user experience, it is in the widest sense- the interaction with computer assisted translation tools (CAT Tools), including the ease of use, how accessible the features are, how extendable the product is (by adding applications), how well the product integrates with other systems and of course, the satisfaction provided by any personal experience between the user and the product.

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The TTI survey told us that 66% of respondents find translation tools easy to use today and this is a strong improvement from 5 years ago when only 44% said the same. Ease of use is high on SDL’s development agenda, recent releases of SDL Trados Studio have seen a simplification of the user interface and a redesign to map onto the familiar screen layouts of Microsoft Office. But what can you expect in the future?

Well, we are already seeing the inclusion of more hand-holding via wizard assistants that help users with dialogue boxes and step-by-step processes. But with more and more users becoming fully immersed with consumer-led technology such as smartphones and tablets, expectations are running high.

Personalizing your CAT Tool

Perhaps the answer lies in personalization? The ability to customize your experience to meet your own needs seems to be a key component in establishing a good user experience, specific to you. The ability to group functionality to make the most commonly used features easily accessible; the choice of redesigning your user interface to suit your particular job role; or the opportunity to add your favorite applications so that you can have a dashboard of information at your fingertips – these options are all very much available for you to use today.

More than 68% of our respondents want to be able to add functionality through third-party applications. Translation technology providers may work hard to include these applications as core functionality but many times this just over-complicates the base product. It is a much better user experience when people can choose which apps they want from the SDL AppStore and customize the end product for their specific use.

The power of integration

And what about the integration of CAT tools into existing business systems, so that there is a seamless flow of information across all systems? Corporates and LSPs in our study strongly prefer integrated over standalone software (by a ratio of 4:1), but it would be impossible for a technology provider to integrate their platform, out of the box, with every other business system that its customers might use. This is where Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) come in. Open APIs are key to opening up the flow of information across systems. And there are more than 1,000 developers active on the SDL AppStore Developer Hub using these APIs to make improvements for their own organizations.

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But what about the TTI survey statistic that told us that only half of our respondents felt they know how to get the most out of their TP tools? This is disappointing but could this be related to the fact that most market-leading CAT Tools are now so rich in functionality and features that there is a lack of confidence that users are taking advantage of all the capability available? As professional users, shouldn’t we give ourselves a break, do we use all the functionality available in the latest versions of Microsoft Office? However, with SDL Trados Studio, every new release of software adds new features that are designed to make it easier for us to be efficient at becoming more productive.

We’ve taken these insights on board for SDL Trados Studio 2017, take a look for yourselves at the latest developments. We’re confident that this will provide your best user experience yet!