Common Obstacles when Translating a Website

How do you handle confusing situations when translating a website, and how can you avoid them in the future? When a translator is asked to translate websites, it’s easy to make simple mistakes that can affect the development of their project.

Obtaining the raw content

In order to understand the characteristics of the project when translating a website, you will first need to know how the client will provide you with the content to be translated. Will you receive a file containing the source text of the site? Will you have to translate directly from the site? Then, you should take into consideration the possible hidden text and repetitions within the web content. This information is highly important; it can affect the amount of time it will take to complete a project and, subsequently, the budget.

Quoting the project

How you gain access to the content that must be translated is a key factor on how to quote the project and run it.

  • If the client provides you with a URL and you have to budget the translation project directly from the site, the best solution is to offer an hourly basis and an estimate the amount of hours it will take to complete the project. This way you anticipate coverage for any unexpected content that couldn’t be seen when quoting directly from the site, such as error or pop-up messages.
  • If the client provides you with a URL and you are required to offer a fixed budget, take into consideration any possible hidden content in your word count, which in many cases is linked to forms and action buttons. Then, give yourself a budget and time margin to cover it. If your margin was wider than needed, you can always modify it later on. It will be better to deliver the file early and with a lower budget than exceeding your deadline.
  • If you receive a file containing the content to translate it’s simple to offer a quote, you just need to perform a word count by using a CAT tool and base your quote on that fixed word count. In this case, the provider will have gathered all hidden content, and you won’t have to worry about it. In my opinion, this is a great option as you will be able to match repetitions with a CAT tool and, therefore, offer a more accurate quote.

Translating a website from created files

As mentioned above, the clearest common way of performing websites translations might be receiving a file with the content gathered by the provider. However, in this case, you will have to be very cautious, as you may lack the context. The context is truly important in website translations, as the translation of a button won’t be equivalent to the one of a drop-down menu, even if you are translating the same word or sentence.

For instance, Sign in as a title is translated as Inicia sesión, but as a button the correct translation is Iniciar sesión.


Tools and tips for translating directly from a published website

On the other hand, translating directly from a website might be the hardest of all possible situations and some challenging troubles may arise. For instance, you will have to create the file to translate and it may be very difficult to clearly determine where each word or section goes. Using tabs is an easy option, and if there is any section that cannot be organized within the tab (or it’s confusing to do so) you can use a tool like Skitch.

Comments Source – English Target – Spanish
Section Menu
Drop-down menuDrop-down menuDrop-down menuDrop-down menu HomeAbout UsServicesContact Us Inicio¿Quiénes somos?ServiciosContacto
Section Footer
ButtonButton Get Started!Contact Us ¡Comienza ahora!Contáctenos

All these situations surrounding website translation projects can be cumbersome, and it may lead to misunderstandings and affect the quality of the translation, requiring a deep editing service. The very best alternative would be to use Smartling’s platform, which offers the easiest and simplest solutions to all of the obstacles mentioned above.

About Victoria Sfriso

I’m a native Spanish writer and translator living in Spain, with cultural knowledge and life experience in Latin America, France, Italy. I translate into Spanish and Catalan from Italian, French, and English. I find it fulfilling to learn new languages and new cultures. I specialize primarily in tourism, medical, and literary translations. I enjoy being a freelance translator.