There are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today. The most common? English, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic. If you want to reach more than just one market (or you’re not a native speaker yourself), you’ll need to look into translation services for your website.
There are two approaches you can take for web page translation: Engaging with a localization and translation platform like Smartling (hi!) or using built-in machine translation from web browsers.
Whether you’re looking for translation services for your website or simply browsing the Internet and looking for an easy way to translate web pages, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn how to do both.
How to Translate Your Own Web Page
On average, it takes 52 languages to reach 99% of Internet users. To expand your reach and grow your business, you’ll need to consider members of your target audience that speak a different language than English, like Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, or French.
While your visitors can rely on web browser machine translation to translate your homepage and more (as we cover below), these don’t always offer a positive experience. When given a choice between similar products, 75% of the population will choose whichever one provides them with information in their native language or preferred language.
That’s why translation is so important — and why here at Smartling, we combine the power of human translators who understand local cultural norms and expectations with AI-powered software that makes your life easy. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to translating your own web page, including using a tool like Smartling:
Preparing Your Website for Translation
Before you hire a professional translation service like Smartling, you need to take care of a few elements of your website on a technical level and on a branding level.
- Target languages: Which languages do you want to offer, and are they widely spoken in your target markets? Understanding your global audience is the first step.
- Content layout: Translations can dramatically expand or contract the existing layout on a page. Are your pages equipped to handle those changes? What about right-to-left languages like Arabic?
- Font size: Most languages look fine in 12 pt font, but characters for Japanese, Korean, or Chinese need a few sizes larger, impacting and your web design.
- Imagery and video: Every culture has different expectations with colors and imagery. In addition to changing the words into a new language, you’ll need to figure out how to translate your brand into culturally relevant imagery, colors, and animations. For example, in the United States, the color white represents purity or cleanliness (it’s why brides wear it!) but in China and Korea, white is the color of mourning.
- Pricing, currency, and payment: Are you able to support payment and currency options for new locales?
Finding the Right Translation Tools
You’re probably already using a suite of tools to manage your website. You’ll also need website translation software, also known as translation management systems. When choosing a translation management system (TMS), find one that:
Offers communication and project management tools that eliminate incessant back and forth communication between project managers and translators Provides a full background of context for translators (including a glossary, brand voice, and visual context—right within the platform) Cuts down on errors with automated quality checks
Over 50% of work-related to managing website translation is eliminated when implementing the right translation software for your business. It’s what makes hiring a professional translation service or agency possible—so you can seamlessly incorporate translations into every page of your site.
The Website Translation Process
Once you have a localization strategy and website translation tool, it’s time to implement a process that works for your developers, designers, and marketers.
A typical website translation process can get complicated fast:
- First, all of the content or code goes into a spreadsheet, emailed to your language services provider...
- The agency then emails the spreadsheet to multiple translators for each foreign language...
- The translators complete their work and send it back to the agency, which compiles every single file into one complicated spreadsheet with every single string in a different row...
- Then you have to import each string into your CMS yourself with an add-on or plug-in or engage with developers to manually code the strings into the website or app.
The good news is that website translation doesn’t have to be that complex. Here’s how this process works with Smartling:
- Smartling automatically integrates with your content management system, so anytime there’s new or updated content, it’s sent to a translator without fussing with a spreadsheet.
- Your assigned translators complete the work, tracking their progress and communicating directly with you throughout in case there are any questions.
- When the translations are all set, it automatically goes back into your CMS, and all you have to do is click Publish.
Smartling works with a network of translators around the world who ensure your translations are not only accurate but also align with your messaging and sound like they were written in the original language. Learn more about Smartling’s translation services here.
How to Translate a Page You’re Viewing
But what about a page you don’t own? If you’re browsing the web and need to know how to read a page in your local language, you have a few options (depending on your browser).
How to Translate a Page in Google Chrome
Google owns Google Translate, a machine translation engine that is surprisingly accurate if you need to get information quickly in another language. Using the Google Chrome app or desktop browser sometimes triggers the translation feature automatically. According to Google’s support page, all you need to do to translate a web page is:
- Open Google Chrome and type in the URL of the page you wish to translate.
- At the top, click “Translate.”
- You can change your language settings in your browser (“Advanced” → “Languages”) to always translate pages in that language. If you’re still having trouble, right-click and select “Translate to [Language].”
How to Translate a Page in Firefox
To translate web pages in Firefox, install a plug-in. Mozilla offers a list of Recommended Extensions for translation tools, including a Google Translate extension. Each one is different, but you can easily right-click and see machine translations in other languages or automatically set the plug-in to handle translation when navigating to a site in another language, depending on the app. Popular recommended extensions include To Google Translate, Reverso, and To DeepL.
How to Translate a Page in Safari
Apple offers built-in translation features for iPhone and desktop, though they are currently in beta for macOS Big Sur and iOS 14 and later. According to Apple’s support page, to translate a page on Mac or mobile:
- Open Safari and type in the URL of the page you wish to translate in the address bar.
- At the top, in the Smart Search toolbar, click the Translate button.
- Choose your target language. A machine translation should appear.
Translate Your Web Pages With Smartling
Smartling’s translation services, CAT tool features, and professional translators enable you to refine your customer's journey in any language.
Learn more at https://www.smartling.com/translation-services/.