Given that 75 percent of internet users do not use English as their primary language, web translation can open up huge new markets for businesses. Indeed, web translation often results in a 50-75 percent ROI – and this is only in the first year or so. Since you will see ongoing profits the longer your alternate language site is up, it just makes good sense to add more languages to your internet empire.
Below, we’ve gathered tips to make your website translation as successful and effective as possible.
1. Hire a professional business translator.
Don’t assume your multilingual employee can do a bang-up job of translating your site. Unless they are specifically trained in translation, even native speakers cannot produce high-quality translations. A business translator has years of experience and training in how to produce a site that accurately expresses the meaning of text, including between-the-lines cultural meaning. To ensure your website translation results in web content that will actually entice and win over foreign customers, hire a professional business translation service.
2. Improve the structure of your main site before launching it in a new tongue.
For every new language, your file storage needs will double. Therefore, it makes good sense to winnow out extraneous files prior to translating them into a new language. You’ll want to make sure the files on the server are necessary, relevant and well organized. It’s also wise to review your file naming strategy to ensure files and sub-sites are logically named and descriptive.
3. Scour your site for localization issues.
Here’s where a business translator specializing in website translations comes in handy. You’ll need to consider what colors and graphics communicate to the people of your target language and culture. Additionally, it is recommended that any graphics with text be redesigned – this is a good practice from a programming perspective, and it will make future translations much easier. Finally, you’ll need to consider how the target language could alter the volume of text on each page. For instance, translation from English to Spanish usually results in about 30 percent more characters – Spanish simply uses more letters to convey the same meaning. Therefore, you’ll need to check that each of your web pages can accommodate additional characters without distracting the user with overlapping elements.
4. Question and improve your database setup.
Dynamic portions of websites are typically populated via a database. The user puts in his or her information, and the website draws from a database to provide personalized content. When you add a language, you will most likely need to create a duplicate database just for the new tongue. Like overall website layouts, database results are often limited by character count, so make sure your new language will fit.
5. Consider adding cell phone-friendly versions of your site.
As every business translator is well aware, internet use across the globe is increasing daily. The mobile market is seeing especially rapid growth, since in many parts of the world cell phones are the only affordable way that the average person can access the World Wide Web. Global mobile searches more than doubled in 2010 alone. As you arrange for your website translation, consider adding mobile versions of your multi-language sites so cell phone users also have a positive experience when accessing your content.
To conclude, every experienced business translator would recommend that you create a translation plan and stick to it. Otherwise, the complexity of duplicating your website in another language can easily spiral out of your control – and beyond your budget.