For consumers and other casual web surfers, an automated webpage translator such as Google Translate can be a decent one-time solution. If it’s a fashionista who wants to know what’s happening on the Paris runway scene, the ability to automatically translate a French-language web page can come in handy if his or her French is rusty (or non-existent).
But if you’re a fashion-related business, seeking to reach out to fashion consumers who speak another language, these tools are not so useful.
Keep Customers Away from Webpage Translators
The most popular web translator tools are far from ideal, although they continue to improve. Anyone who has used this software known as machine translation knows they occasionally don’t recognize a word in the source language—particularly when translating full sentences—and pass it through untranslated. Typically, these untranslated words are less common, specialized, or technical terms; often you can still get by and pick up the gist of a story. Nonetheless, these words are likely to be important ones, providing subtlety and nuance only a casual reader will miss.
And do you really want your potential customers to just “get by” when they visit your website?
Moreover, webpage translator tools can fall short right out of the gate — when your prospective customer tries to translate search terms. Run the phrase “Paris runway scene” through Google Translate, for instance, and you get “Paris scène de la piste.”
Back-translating this to English gives “Paris scene of the track,” suggesting a search that, at first glance, might yield information on French trains, not outfits. In fact, a Google image search for “Paris scène de la piste” mainly produces images of street and road scenes. What it doesn’t bring up is fashion images.
And remember, the world doesn’t just use search tools from Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo! In the largest global market of all, China, the country’s Baidu search engine commands a 70 percent market share. How familiar are you with Baidu’s translation tools?
Yet even the search-term translation game can only begin if your prospective customer goes searching for what, to him or her, are foreign-language websites. For most of you, looking for websites that speak your language is a whole lot simpler and more convenient.
For businesses, this means that to reach global customers you need a website that speaks to them in their language. Don’t depend on your prospective customers, even aided by search engines or other online tools, to do the work for you.
Professional, Human Translation Is Your Best Bet
When it comes to actual translation, there is still no substitute for skilled human translators who understand the nuances of both source and target languages, including relevant specialized usages (fashion, technology, or the like).
This doesn’t mean there is no place for translation support tools, though. The popular consumer-oriented web page translation systems—online and mobile translation apps, and desktop translation software—make up only one part of the spectrum.
Alongside these consumer-oriented resources are tools designed for businesses. These include enterprise translation software that helps firms manage complex, extensive translation projects on the one hand and contribute to translator productivity on the other by providing many tools such as translation memory, style guides, and more.
If you are reaching out to potential customers in the global marketplace, the first thing to keep in mind is there is no global market—only a world filled with local markets speaking a multitude of languages. Chances are you won’t end up translating your web resources into just one other language.
Even if you start with only one, enough success will encourage you to reach out to other potential customers speaking other languages. This means the sooner you adopt a robust translation management system, the readier you’ll be to reach the world before your competitors do.
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