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Translating and Localizing your Website on a Budget: Where to Begin

Expanding to a global market can be an exciting time for your business. Millions of Internet users speak a language other than English, and localizing your website to some of these specific target audiences allows your company the opportunity to reach a broader scope of people. Even in countries where English use is fairly widespread, consumers still prefer to seek out information in their native language, so having access to your content in that language will give your company an edge in a competitive market. Localization, which includes translation, also entails adapting your website’s content for other markets.

Ideally, all aspects of your company’s website would be fully translated and localized for all target audiences you have decided to reach. However, it is not always within a company’s budget to localize the entire website at once. Knowing where to begin can be helpful in terms of adhering to your budget while still making your website more accommodating for your domestic or international market. We’ve prepared some ideas to help get you started.

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Choosing your initial target audience(s)

If you plan to localize your content for multiple domestic or international audiences, it may be easiest to handle a select few first. Decide which languages and markets will be most beneficial for your company to reach. Not only will you have learned from the process of localizing the content for a few select audiences first, it will also allow you to spread out the costs of localization over time, which may be more desirable for your company budget.

Deciding which pages to localize

Localizing your website’s content can also come in stages. It is important to decide which pages are critical for your business, and which have messages that are important for your domestic or international audience. If you have a local events page or careers page, for example, these would not be of high importance to translate or localize, since they would only be necessary for your original English-speaking audience.

On the other hand, pages that are specific to your company’s brand, such as your mission statement or an About Us page, would be of higher priority so that your new customers feel connected with you from the beginning. Some other pages that may be important for your company to consider up front would be forms you need the customer to fill out like requests for information or pages with news about company updates.

Ultimately, what you decide to prioritize will depend on your company’s mission and vision for your domestic or international reach. We are always happy to assist you in deciding the best path to take when it comes to expanding to new audiences. Please feel free to contact us today for more information!

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Filed under Customer Service, Localization, Marketing, Translation Services

What If I Just Use the Google Translate Button on My Website?

 

It’s not uncommon to hear someone ask about using Google Translate (or another free machine translation tool) for their translation needs. Those in the language industry probably hear this question fairly often, especially since there is a Google Translate button on many websites, both personal and professional, prompting users to translate a website into the language of their choice with just the click of a button.

Although those in the language industry will have immediate reservations about using free, automated machine translation professionally, it is not difficult to understand why many would feel this is a good option. After all, Google provides some amazing services, many of which are free. If you have grown to trust Google for these other services, it might stand to reason that you feel comfortable trusting Google for a free translation, as well. Trust us, we completely understand! However, your organization’s brand and your website’s accuracy may be at stake if you are relying on this method to translate content for your visitors.

The ability to correctly maintain both the meaning and the intended impression of your website’s subject is something, at least at this point in time, that can only be accomplished with professional human translators. These translators are able to dissect the content of the page, understand the intention of its message, and then convey that same message and intention in another language.

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Automated machine translation such as Google Translate is unable to identify all of the nuances of a language, and often makes errors involving both the grammar and vocabulary of the target language. If you have ever used the Google Translate button to translate a non-English website into English, it was likely very obvious that the translation was automated and not done professionally by a native speaker. This type of translation does not capture the true original message, even if we can make out what the proper words should have been, some of the time.

If your organization values its branding and professionalism, it is important to have your website translated professionally. A professional translation agency will ensure that a native speaker of the target language who specializes in the subject matter translates your content. The translation will also be reviewed by a proofreader or editor to ensure the quality of the final product. This helps to maintain the professionalism your company conveys through its branding, and it can also keep your company out of legal trouble in certain cases, should your information be translated incorrectly. If you are a food vendor, for example, and your website mistranslates allergy warnings, this could have major legal ramifications for you if one of your customers falls ill.

Even if there are no legal implications, native speakers of a target language will know when a website has been translated through an automated system and may look to your competition for a company that will better communicate with them. After all, good communication is a form of good service.

The process of taking your message, breaking down its intended meaning in all places, understanding the nuances of your ideas and messages, and putting it all back together in another language is complex. Although we completely understand the appeal, we urge you not to rely on a seemingly free service to do this. Just as other aspects of your business are handled by their respective professionals, we recommend doing the same for your translations to help prevent potential mistranslations and bumps down the road.

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Filed under Customer Service, Legal translation/interpreting, Marketing, Medical translation/interpreting