Website translation is extremely important to the success of your business, especially considering the increase in access to the Internet worldwide and the fact that 95 percent of online consumers prefer to purchase from a site written in their native language.
By applying the following simple steps to your existing English website, you are becoming visible to the large global marketplace awaiting your products and services.
Step 1. Define Your Objectives
Does your website need to be localized (made particular to a specific region of the world) or can it be globalized (understood by all people who speak Spanish)?
If the goal of your website is to sell consumer products online, localize by presenting pricing in a local currency and using terminology specific to consumers. If you’re communicating general information about your company and services and inviting potential customers to contact you, globalize. Globalizing your website is less costly due to scale efficiencies.
Step 2. Prepare for Translation
Edit out any slang, colloquialisms, internal jargon, humor or cultural references in order to make clear copy. Separate text out of hard-programmed graphics. Allow for white space - translated copy can expand up to 30 percent. Use standard fonts for easy language transition. Finally, add culturally relevant photos and graphics so your visuals have meaning to international readers.
Step 3. Triple-Check Data
Ensure working contact phone numbers (no 800s) and e-mail addresses are acceptable for international usage. Have in-country personnel or native speakers from target countries review graphics and cultural references for appropriateness. Follow country laws about data collection. Adapt advertising for other cultures – it’s a “hard sell” in the U.S. – and make sure not to be offensive to other cultures.
Step 4. Prepare Copy for Translation
Establish a freeze date for translation so no changes can be made to copy after that date. After the translation is complete, maintain a master Word file of all English copy. Separate copy into clear sections and track any changes so the translation can be easily updated.
Step 5. Translate Copy
Hire a professional language translator or website translation agency. Do not try to save money by using an untrained bi-lingual person. You don’t want to look unprofessional and lose business due to language mistakes.
Step 6. Decide on Navigation Access
Country flags or lists are the best way to display options for localize websites. Translated language lists offer a clear option for globalized sites. Cookies can remember the chosen language for future visits by each customer. Also, place the translated pages at the same level as the English or up or down a level -- any way is fine is long as it is consistent.
Step 7. Perform an Online Review
Even if the Web master speaks the translated language, have another native speaking person review the site for links, sentence breaks and complete copy.
Step 8. Update Copy Regularly
Whenever you update the English, track the changes in your master Word document and send to the translator. Charges are minimal if they are carefully marked and highlighted.
Quality website translation is extremely important. Even though you do not speak the language of potential non-English speaking clients in the U.S. or internationally, by using available resources wisely, you can still increase your revenues.