Desktop publishing is a phrase that arose in the early days of PCs and Macs and has never really died. Even as laptops and notebooks replaced desktop computers for many, the phrase DTP – aka ePublishing – has lingered as digital publishing has become a do it yourself possibility. Content Management software like Word and Wix have brought publishing to the masses. One barrier to the global reach of digital publishing remains multilingual content management. We’ll tackle that topic here.
The Current State of Desktop publishing: Do It Yourself or Let a Service Do It?
Desktop publishing services have come a long way since the introduction of drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get). In 2019 DTP/ePublishing was estimated at nearly $24B. The industry is pegged to grow at 8.5% CAGR to some $46 billion by 2027.
Desktop publishing hardware and software today have become so sophisticated that any person even without prior training would be able to use them. However, for the many who did not necessarily grow up with these solutions, it’s still not easy enough. In addition, creating high-quality layouts from these desktop publishing requires deeper knowledge. “This is why there’s still a need for third-party desktop publishing to provide professional-level output for businesses,” said Tomedes CEO Ofer Tirosh. In this article, we’ll weigh in on the pros and cons of outsourcing to an agency rather than doing it yourself.
The main con is the cost. There are abundant “free” content creation tools out there. Why pay for something you can get for nothing? The problem is that, with DTP as with other things in life, there is no free lunch. “Free” software usually is underpowered and missing essentials, encouraging you to upgrade to the pro or premium version. The freemium business model is designed to push the free users, sooner rather than later, to become a paying customer. This applies to SaaS platforms like Wix or Squarespace or DTP ecospheres like WordPress with its constellations of themes and plugins.
Time is Money: What’s the Main Barrier to Mastering Multilingual DTP?
But a more daunting deterrent to Do It Yourself solutions is the time it takes to choose and then master all this software. Time is money and the curve for learning new software can be steep. Not only that, it will take time to reach a professional quality level. That creates an additional expense of courses and webinars to accelerate learning and competence. The technical and content costs increase further if you contemplate creating a website or campaign in more than one language. All these costs add up to justify a marketplace for desktop publishing services and language professionals to offer a higher professional level of quality at a competitive cost.
DTP Localization is the process of adapting content and services to make them seem local. This is especially needed when going from one language to another, but it is also relevant when adapting content in one language to the same language in another country or region, say between the USA and Great Britain and Australia. Locals can distinguish the subtle differences, not to mention the different currencies and measurements. The same applies to differences between the French spoken in Marseilles and Montreal. To ignore these is to risk offending readers and driving away potential customers.
The current language services industry has been growing at an impressive clip. According to Nimdzi, an industry thinktank, the market measured $53.6 billion worldwide in 2019 and is expected to reach $70 billion by 2027. The market includes a vast array of language products and services, from online language courses to technical localization software. At the heart of the markets are thousands of translation and interpretation agencies, many of which offer DTP services as part of their core offerings.
Multilingual DTP: Should you localize with an agency or a freelance translator?
Hundreds of thousands of freelance translators market language services. Many bundle translation with desktop publishing design, content, and production services. The main advantage of working with a freelancer is low cost. The supply exceeds the demand, so a client seeking multilingual DTP services is in the driver’s seat for negotiating a favorable rate. Easing the process has been freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer.com, which simplify the process of finding and dealing with a provider.
The main downside of working with freelancers is the time it takes to manage them plus the risks of working with an unaccountable individual versus a known agency with a reputation and professional protocols in place. When working with a multilingual DTP agency, you have the security and professionalism of an account manager to manage the linguistic and publishing teams across different languages. Otherwise, you’ll need to work with translators piecemeal, one by one. Not easy!
To assess the costs of working with an agency, query a handful of top-tier multilingual DTP service providers. Ask for a price-proposal and timetable. It’s free and you’ll get a response within a day. Then compare prices and the chemistry you feel with each agency. Ask for how long they guarantee their work after delivery. Ask if they have specialists for graphic design, programming, copywriting, editing, and translating per language pair. If you can get a comprehensive package at a competitive rate, you reduce the chances of your readers, and customers will get lost in translation.