Translating your website is the single most cost-effective way to reach global consumers and expand your brand overseas. Your approach, however, is extremely important – it can streamline the process or create time-consuming setbacks. Appropriate planning is an integral aspect of your site’s development and roll-out.
After 20+ years in the website translation services industry, we’ve learned a few tips and tricks to help our clients successfully transform potential language barriers into active revenue opportunities. So here are our top seven picks on how to prepare for a successful website translation project:
1. Let your translation company know how your website is (or will be) built
Your website’s platform can accelerate – or inhibit – the speed of translation. The structure of your site will dictate how your translation company manages the content.
Most CMS platforms (e.g. WordPress, Drupal, HubSpot) feature built-in content import/export functions, or can support multilingual plug-ins. For websites built on HTML, your translation company can translate the raw source files. Some websites may use a translation proxy, which means that when the foreign user accesses a page, the proxy replaces the original text with translations stored on a server.
Knowing how your site is or will be coded will help your translation company determine how to manage the project efficiently and cost-effectively from the outset.
2. Establish your update cycle
What kind of update cycle do you anticipate for your website? Will your site need frequent updates (such as in the case of eCommerce)? How often will translated pages need to be updated to match? Who will be tasked with managing the foreign language updates – will you handle it yourself, or offload to your translation company?
If your site will require frequent updates, outline your parameters and expectations early on, then share these with your translation company. Keeping your translation partner in the loop enables them to anticipate scheduled updates and ensure that appropriate resources are available to you.
3. Determine which pages require translation
Not all pages of your website may require translation. You may even choose to omit certain location- or culture-specific pages on foreign-language sites. Conduct a full content review of your site before enlisting a website translation services partner and assess which pages will require translation into other languages.
4. Review the appropriateness of your content for international markets
Certain phrases or references may make little or no sense to international users. For example, “toll-free numbers” or requests for “SSN” do not apply outside the United States and must be translated into their appropriate foreign-language counterparts if applicable to international users.
Determine if you want to replace certain information with new source text for the foreign site or if you should omit that section entirely. Identifying instances like these before beginning translation will enable you to provide new text or issue direction on how to handle these specific pieces of content.
5. Be aware that foreign languages usually occupy more space
In many languages, translated text expands – sometimes significantly. German, French, and Spanish all occupy 30-40% more space on a web page. If you are planning to translate your website’s content, let your web designer and developer know early on, so they can build in enough space for your site’s final translated content.
Using classes and IDs for text styles (not inline styling) makes it easier to adjust formatting. Ask your designer to show you versions of the design with 30-40% more characters to give you a sense of how your fully translated pages will look. Pay special attention to things like call-to-action buttons, which often have limitations on character count and may require you to substitute a different phrase.
6. Share foreign language SEO keywords with your translation company
If search engine optimization (SEO) is important for your international site, let your translation company know you plan to incorporate SEO keywords. Work with an SEO specialist to identify appropriate foreign-language keywords then provide this list to your translation company. Because specific phrasing is so vital to SEO, your website translator may opt to use the SEO keywords in specific places instead of direct translations to provide your site with greater SEO value.
One reason to engage in a long-term partnership with your translation company is that they can input your SEO keywords into a customized, client-specific term base to ensure consistency across your future web page translations.
7. Determine which of your media will require translation
Websites contain so much more than words and pictures. Many websites include downloadable PDFs, videos, charts, and other materials that may or may not require translation and corresponding re-designs. Your translation company can offer suggestions (such as removing printed text from an image) to enable greater flexibility.
Discuss how you will manage this content early in the process, so your website translation company can incorporate your needs into the project’s timeline and scope.