Keeping translation simple (and fast): A Q&A with One Hour Translation

For those who are new to purchasing translation services, the process can be confusing.

There are new terms to learn, new technologies, and the pricing can vary greatly between vendors.

Which is why I see great opportunities for those translation agencies that can take the pain out of the purchasing process.

Which is why I was intrigued by One Hour Translation. Founded in 2008, the company is a web-based translation services that provides services in 50 languages to companies that include Google, IBM, Pfizer, Toyota, and Zynga. One Hour Translation is not the first company to offer web-based translations, but it is in rare company in its web-only approach to translation workflow.

I was impressed with the company’s home page, shown below:

The translation process is boiled down to three simple steps. It’s probably not an interface that will appeal to a software localization buyer, but I can see plenty of marketing execs appreciating the usability — and the speed. Once clients submit a project they see a countdown timer that ticks down the minutes remaining until their translations are complete.

To learn more, I recently conducted a Q&A with Lior Libman Co-Founder and COO of One Hour Translation.

Here is the interview:

Q: Can you summarize the types of translation services you offer — and your customers?
One Hour Translation provides general professional translation services and expert professional translation services covering all fields including: Legal, Finance, IT, Gaming, mobile applications, patents, medical etc. Most of our customers are businesses that translate business-related materials, from their website and marketing materials to legal contracts.

Q: What volume are you handling right now?
We currently are translating thousands of projects a week

Q: What are the most popular language pairs?
The most common pairs are English to French, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Russian and visa versa.

Q: Clients pay only for translation and not project management, correct?
Correct, the client pays per word with no additional fees (including project management, weekends etc.). The revolution is that this is basically a self-service portal where the web interface plays the project management role including counting the number of words, project allocation (according to multiple parameters), direct communication interface between the client and the translator and translation storage and delivery. We provide 24/7 human support but almost all projects does not require our involvement.

Q: How transparent is the process for clients regarding the translators working on the projects? That is, do they know exactly who the translators are?
Our process is very transparent. The customer knows the translator who is currently working on the project (by name) unlike other agencies where the customer hardly ever knows who is doing the actual work. The customer and the translator can communicate freely using the discussion board.

Since the customer knows exactly who is working on the project, the customer may ask for that translator again. As soon as the translator starts working on the text the customer can use the private discussion board to communicate directly with the translator and not through an agency or an intermediate. You can ask the translator for corrections or clarifications and provide any kind of glossary or other information that might help in the translation process. If you are happy with a specific translator you can click the “work with this translator again” button directly on the project’s page and the specific translator will be prioritized for works coming from you as long as he/she has the required skills.

Q: You have been aggressive in meshing translation workflow into software platforms (Twitter, Drupal, etc.). To what extent does this functionality help you win projects?

We believe in integration of professional human translation with advance technologies in order to reach a more efficient translation process. Obviously, many businesses maintain multilingual websites/blogs for marketing or support purposes.

Until we came up with the CMS translation plug-in and translation API, these businesses had a hard time sending the text for translation by email, receiving the translated text and posting it back to their CMS. With the API and software integration, many businesses can seamlessly integrate the translation process with their existing website updates work flow.

Q: I would imagine quality is one of the major concerns companies have regarding a crowdsourced model. What steps do you take to measure and ensure quality of translation?
We deal with quality on many different levels:

  1. Each and every one of the 8,000 translators we work with, undergoes a long manual screening process that includes many different steps (including background check etc.). Only after passing this process will the translator translate.
  2. In some cases the translator also needs to pass exams relevant to his/her field of expertise.
  3. We have a unique, patented, quality assurance system called CQR — Collective Quality Reviews — where each project is checked in real time by 5-10 reviewers who rate it. We get involved where needed.
  4. Many customers rate the projects and we collect statistics about that as well.

Bottom line, using our process and technology we are able to provide top quality translation at an affordable price.

Q: Do you use machine translation? If not, any plans to support it?
We do not use machine translation and we will not use machine translation for the foreseeable future. The quality of machine translation is very low and unacceptable for professional business use.

Q: Do you support TMs?
Yes, all the translators in our community are professional translators and most of them use translation memory. To improve our support of TM, we are currently working to integrate TM directly on One Hour Translation as part of our web services.

Q: How do you view the translation industry evolving?
The translation industry is one of the last services industries to stay offline. In my opinion, a natural evolution of the translation industry would be to shift to the online while reducing times of delivery and overhead costs. I see great opportunity in atomization of the translation workflow.

One might consider the machine translation as a threat to the industry but MT still have a lot of time until it might generate useable results. Leading LSPs have begun to embrace the shift to online and to the advantages of strong technological translation providers. An example can be found in the cooperation between SDL and One Hour Translation (see the “human translation button” on where SDL refers its online visitors to One Hour Translation.

Link: One Hour Translation

PS: One Hour Translation is one of the agencies included in The Savvy Client’s Guide to Translation Agencies, coming in November.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping translation simple (and fast): A Q&A with One Hour Translation”

  1. Quote: One might consider the machine translation as a threat to the industry but MT still have a lot of time until it might generate useable results.

    Microsoft does not agree. “Microsoft’s Knowledge Base materials have been translated into nine languages by MSR-MT [machine translation]. This approach lowered the cost barrier to obtaining customized, higher-quality MT and Microsoft’s support group is now able to provide usable translations for its entire online KB. It can also keep current with updates and additions on a weekly basis – something that was previously unthinkable both in terms of time and expense.” (

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