We are now part of The Translation People! Visit our new site

Managing expectations – quality vs price vs speed

Quality, price and speed are all important when buying a product or service but prioritising which are most important will ensure that your expectations are always met.

Everyone wants the best quality translation, as quickly as possible and for the lowest price but is this really achievable? This idea is often referred to as the ‘unattainable triangle’. It suggests that a high-quality product delivered quickly and effectively will always come at a premium price, so something has to give. This is why prioritising these points is important.



This can be an easy area for compromise, particularly when there is a flexible timeframe or even no concrete deadline at all. If you do set a deadline, consider how long it took to write the original copy and bear in mind that a translation is effectively a re-write of the original.

It can be tempting to state that you need a translation “ASAP” or “by end of business on Friday”, even if you do not really need it until Monday morning. The peace of mind of having the work in your inbox before you leave the office for the weekend is understandable but it is a luxury and, as with all luxuries, this costs money.


This is the point that plays a large role in a lot of decisions but some people are ashamed to admit it as they don’t want to sound cheap. If money is a factor, simply say so at the beginning. There is no shame in wanting something done cheaply in certain situations but expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

Of course, translations cost you money but they should be viewed as an investment. If a translation is being used to help promote your product or service in a new market, then it is likely to be crucial to the success of the entire campaign. In this context, any translation cost is likely to be repaid very easily anyway.


Quality is the most complex and subjective of the three (which is why we left it until last). It is also the one that people most often say is most important to them but, if you opt not to prioritise, it is the one most likely to suffer.

In truth, delivering a project where the result is low quality is almost never an option in the world of translation – quality is (quite rightly) a universally expected requirement. If you are paying for a product or service you expect it to be of a certain quality. But quality doesn’t always show right away and, unless you speak the language yourself, it can be difficult to assess when it comes to translation.

What people really want

Many people insist that they are looking for all three points but it is our own inclination to link price directly to quality that is a major reason why the ‘unattainable triangle’ may always be out of reach. From our experience, what people usually want is something that they deem value for money (combining quality and price).

Translation companies should also focus on one or two of these three factors and this should be clear on their website. It is those who claim to do all three that you need to be wary of. Some focus on being cheap, some on a quick turnaround and others pay more attention to quality (that is our main focus). This doesn’t mean we are particularly expensive or that you won’t get your piece in good time, it is just the area we emphasise upon (choosing to ensure that all our prices include at least one round of additional proofing to enhance consistency and quality).

By prioritising these three areas along the way and being realistic about your expectations, your brand and overall objectives will be as strong as ever with the help of the translation service you need. At the end of the day, it is your brand and image which are at stake.


If you have any translation requirements, please get in touch. We would be happy to provide a quotation, or even just have a chat about what you need.

Blog Notifications

Sign up here to receive notifications whenever new articles are added to the blog.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Recent Posts


Follow us at @Cicero_TW

Twitter outputted an error:
Sorry, that page does not exist..

Get in touch

Feel free to give us a call or send over an e-mail and one of our team will advise you on whatever it is you need.

Head Office

The Warehouse
Culverden Square
Tunbridge Wells

+44 (0) 1892 676655

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00-17:30

London Office

4th floor,
86-90 Paul Street

+44 (0) 20 7099 5533


Get a quote

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx.
  • We take privacy very seriously and will not share your personal details with any third party, unless necessary to complete your translation project.

    Please see our privacy policy for more details.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our partners

Pet Quip
Sign Design Society
Institute of Export & International Trade