Website is the main interface for any business, it increases the customers’ trust in the business and gives the company more authority over its competitors. For these reasons and more, it is important for companies to make sure that their website represents their vision and show their products or services in an elegant yet practical way.
In this regard, businesses have to ensure that their website speaks the same language their audiences do. If you live in the Arabian region and want to buy a new TV, you will feel more comfortable buying it from an Arabic website, even if it is not originally Arabic, but written in the Arabic language.
Businesses nowadays seek f0r expand in the global market, and to succeed in that they need to give great attention to their website efficiency according to their different audiences. As a result, they use what is called website translation. So what does it mean? And when do we need to use it?
What makes a multilingual website?
When we first say the term “multilingual website” we directly assume that it is a worldwide business that has a presence in different countries and regions. Yet this is not necessarily true. Multilingual websites can be a website that functions in one country or region yet provides their service or product in more than one language.
On the other hand, an international company doesn’t necessarily provide its service in multiple languages, even if it has a global audience, and in some cases, they use a neutral language that is most likely English.
However, there is a third kind, which is the traditional kind of multilingual website, or let’s say the one that we first think of once we hear the term. You will find international companies providing their products in many languages according to their audiences. Take IKEA for example, if you live in Sweden and enter your country, you will scroll through a website in the Swedish language. Yet it is a different case if you live in Jordan as you can find another Arabic version of the website.
What is website translation?
It is the process of transferring the content of your website from one language to another according to your audience. This process requires a lot of work, accuracy and clarity because you need to make sure that your message is delivered as you exactly want it.
However, website translation is more than just translating the text. There are a lot of elements that should be considered during the process, such as:
- All elements included in the user interface landing pages, buttons, forms and more.
- Blogs on the website.
- Product descriptions.
- Privacy and policy terms.
- Help request text.
- Contact information.
All of these need a great amount of attention to be well translated, that’s why companies need to hire a professional website translator, ensuring that the website will stay as efficient as in the original language.
What are website translation services?
When translating a website, there are many steps to be done, all fall under what we call “website translation services”; a suite of services that are provided depending on the business’s requirements and needs to adapt your website content to your target audience.
Mainly, you get these services from a language service provider (LSP) – a third-party company offering you language-related services. However, you have to be aware of the fact that not every LSP offers the same services. Some are related to subtitling and interpreting, which is far from the website’s needs.
As a result, you need to know exactly what to look for in a language service provider. In this regard here is a list of website translation services:
- Human translation
- Machine translation
- SEO translation
- Post-editing machine translation
- Copy editing
- Linguistic quality assurance
- Linguistic testing
- Functional testing
Now you might ask yourself, “do I need all of these for translating my website?”. There is no one answer, as it depends on your needs, the audience you are approaching and the size of your business.
The challenges of translating websites
Web content is particularly challenging because of the nature of the website pages. Nonetheless, if we want to list some of the biggest challenges in website translation, some of them are:
- The website’s dynamic nature
There are hundreds of pieces of content on different pages of the website, and they all contribute to the overall picture. In a nutshell, LSPs or any web translators need to remember that it is not just about translating words and sentences from one language to another, but rather making the user feel as if the interface is original so that any user can navigate and find what they need.
- Non-text elements
Any website contains a lot of non-text elements; photos, videos, codes, …etc. All of these play a critical role in transferring content from ordinary text to a website. Coding is very sensitive in this matter, so it’s important for developers, designers and translators to meet and lay out the general format for the website.
- Lack of global brand guidelines
It takes a lot of work to develop a consistent brand experience, even in one language. Adding more languages to the mix-each with its unique nuances and conventions-it becomes increasingly challenging. To ensure their websites look, read, and feel the same across all target languages, businesses need to develop a comprehensive set of global brand guidelines.
The website translation process
In order to create a professional website translation there are several steps that should be done:
- Prepare the content
Start by separating code from translatable text and storing content for translation in separate files. It is important to choose what content to prioritize based on its visibility, impact, and cost.
- Choose LSP
Decide your needs and requirements, and based on them do your research to find the best translation vendor. Then assign projects and roles based on the nature of the task.
- Translating, reviewing and proofreading
By using the localization platform’s translation editor, vendors can translate content into target languages. The next step would be embracing the features of the localization platform to improve translators’ work, including translation memories, term bases, character count limits, and comment threads. Finally, an in-house linguist, a third-party reviewer, or a different linguist within the same vendor’s team can review and proofread the content.
In order to assess your website translation efforts, you need to analyze hard website data and collect qualitative data, such as customer feedback. You can monitor performance by the team, by language pair, by project, etc.
Website translation is not the easiest task to do as every detail counts, and it takes a lot of work and accuracy. If you are interested in reaching your global vision, then it is crucial to deliver your message using the language of your audience, which is why you should hire a quality language service provider.