Website Translation Best Practices

Following website translation best practices is a critical factor in the success of bringing your products and services to new markets across the globe and improving your market penetration. Your website is the face of your brand and, for most companies, your most important marketing asset. When you decide to embark on a website translation project, you face a number of decisions that will determine the ultimate outcome as well as the pace and cost of the project.

Smartling has helped many companies deliver billions of website page views in more than 100 languages across the globe. Doing so has given us enormous insight into what goes into a successful website translation effort. Here are a few of the best practices used by some of the world’s fastest-moving brands.

Select Website Translation Resources Carefully

Everything rests on the quality of the translation resources that you select for your project. You have a number of options:

  • Professional human translation: In our experience, professional human translation is the right choice for most website translation projects because the quality of the results cannot consistently be achieved with any other method. It does cost more than other methods, but often saves money in the long run by eliminating multiple passes, errors, and delays.
  • “Bulk” human translation: This is translation done by people who are bilingual, but not professional translators. It’s usually selected when speed and price are more important than quality.
  • Translation by bilingual employees: It’s tempting to use bilingual employees for translation, but in most cases we do not recommend it. While bilingual employees can be enormously helpful in the review and management processes, they are not trained, professional translators.
  • Computer-generated translation: While it may seem like a great way to get your website translated quickly and cheaply, we strongly advise against it. The results are simply not suitable for customer-facing content. Hiring someone to review and improve it can cost as much as using professional human translators in the first place, with less than satisfying results.

Pick the Right Website Translation Technology

Your website translation project includes more than just the act of translating each word. You must also consider content collection, the translation interface, review workflow, and the delivery of translated content back to the source system. Smartling translation software is designed to support and automate this process. Whether you choose Smartling or something else, be sure that the platform includes:

  • Automated content collection: Collecting the content that needs to be translated and delivering it to the translation resource can be a major undertaking if done manually. Automating the process by connecting to your source content repository via an API helps speed things up and eliminate the opportunity for error. It also helps you evaluate the scope and needed budget for your project.
  • In-context translation interface: In order to deliver the right content the first time, translators need to be able to see the words they are working on in the form in which they will ultimately appear. This is critical because space constraints and other design elements often have an impact on word choice.
  • Translation memory: One of the main ways translation technology makes the process more efficient is by the use of translation memory. Phrases and paragraphs are often repeated within a website. With translation memory, they only need to be translated once, not every time they appear, greatly reducing the cost and duration of your project.
  • Review and approval workflow: Once content is translated it will need to be reviewed and approved. Choose a translation solution that automates this workflow and provides alerts and notifications to project participants. This will ensure a seamless process.

Don’t Ignore Localization

Although website translation starts with text, it should not end there. Crafting a website that reflects the norms of your audience is called website localization. It requires detailed attention to the following:

  • Formats: Date, time, currency, phone number, and address formats all vary from place to place. Units of measure are also place-specific, along with power standards and paper sizes.
  • Culture: Personal title conventions and forms of address are different across the globe. Some cultures ascribe deep meaning to color and many also give significance to particular numbers.

Project owners who follow these website translation best practices put themselves in the best position to deliver high-quality results on budget and on time. We’d love to talk about your plans and help you determine if Smartling is the right website translation technology partner for you.

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