The reason that most businesses translate their website is to increase international sales. As people are up to 4 times more likely to make a purchase in their native language, that makes perfect sense. A translated site can increase conversion rates of existing overseas traffic as well as generate new leads and clients. In this article, we discuss what issues to bear in mind when looking to have your web site translated.
Important things to consider are:
Which Languages to Translate Your Website Into?
Obviously this decision must be market led for your specific product or service and which markets you can service –maybe you are already receiving some enquiries from Germany and want to provide a better service to clients there and attract new ones.
In addition though, you might consider economic data such as how much business is done in which languages of the world – see for example the data on our website showing that, after English, the most important languages for global business are Japanese, followed by German, followed by Spanish then Chinese.
If this is the first venture into translating a website, does it make sense to only translate a cut-down version initially? Is a micro-site sufficient to test the waters? Or does your brand identity dictate that the full original site should be translated?
Language is a Key Part of Your Brand
This principle applies to everything written that is customer facing, whether a website, brochure or Email communication – the language used is a key element in protecting the credibility of your brand. Confidence in the brand can be created or lost by the first few words. So certain ‘golden rules’ must be observed:
Translations must be performed by a professional qualified native-speaker linguist.
The translator must have sufficient knowledge of the terminology used in your industry.
Current technology should be employed sensibly to aid consistency of terminology and control costs of updates.
It is always advisable to have your site proof-read by a native speak before publication.
The best sites are professionally translated with language that is sensitive and appropriate to the readership, and it is possible to switch seamlessly between languages anywhere on the site. We are for example particularly proud of our work on top Spanish property site www.yourviva.com and the world’s fastest plastic and metal part prototyping service www.protolabs.com.
The Process – Easiest and Most Cost Efficient Method
Translating a web site can be done in different ways. The 3 most commonly used fall into the following categories:
- Work with a content management system (CMS.) Does your system provide language support? Part of the arrangement with your language service provider can be that they ensure that translations are inserted correctly into the CMS.
- Work with a proxy translation tool. This can be the perfect solution for a larger and complex translated site that is a reflection of (having the same content as) the source language site. By working with a technology that automates many of the typical steps involved in web globalisation projects, you can minimise or completely eliminate the time that your developers and engineers must spend on website localisation work. At Alexika, we work with the market-leading tool which can be used in conjunction with our professional translation service.
- A simple method for translating a static site or a few pages is to send Html or Word content to your translation provider, and paste the resultant translation into your new pages. Why overcomplicate if only a few pages are required? At Alexika, we use the latest version of the world-leading translation environment tool SDL Trados Studio so that formatting is retained for example when translating html or xml files.
I've got a new website. When should I think about the translation element?
The answer: think about your translation requirement right at the start of the process. If you are looking at the first option of working with a CMS, this is an opportunity to pick one that works smoothly with different languages.
For the second option of a proxy translation tool — can you make the decision now that content will be the same across languages? That’s a key early decision. Finally, if you are going for the simple third option, then yes, you can think about the languages later – but at least there is a plan in place. You will need to consider Search Engine Optimisation for your international markets too.
Another tip for website translation though – do please allow enough time for the process. As a guideline, a professional translator typically works at a rate of around 1000-2000 words per day, and you need to leave time for proofreading and reviewing.
Your Website Has Been Translated, An Enquiry Comes In – What Next?
Part of your planning when having a website translated must be about what happens next. So your French translated we site has generated an enquiry! How do you handle it? Options include:
- conducting a language audit of your staff. Is anyone capable of holding a professional conversation in the language? Do you need to recruit for language skills or work with a language service provider?
- If you do not have spoken language skills immediately available, could you encourage most of the responses to the written through your web site, maybe through the use of forms? Options then include having a set of template responses professionally translated. You can then respond professionally in writing to a specific enquiry or order.
Having your site translated can feel like a big step, but it is one instant way to increase the size of your market. Good luck! If you’re interested in hearing more about how you can increase your presence in overseas markets, do please contact us for an informal chat.