Should You Use Translation App for Website Translation?

There are over a billion websites on the Internet. Less than 40 percent of these sites are in English. According to Internet World Stats, nearly half of Internet users are not native English speakers. Other surveys show that most people will not make an online purchase in a language that is not their own. What does this mean? It means that if you have an international business and you only have an English website, you are overlooking half of your potential customers. Flipping this around, if your language is not in English, there is another half of the world that is missing out on your business. For those with non-English websites, this is an important statistic since much of the world’s wealth is tied up in English-speaking nations, and those whose first language is English are not known for their bilingual fluency.

One of the greatest misunderstandings about website translation is related to localization. Many people mistakenly believe that translating a web page is as simple as installing an app. While there are sites that have two completely different web pages connected by a link, most sites with language links simply use a machine translator similar to Google Translate to reconfigure their site with words translated into the target language.

The problem with the machine translation of a website is the same problem for the machine translation of any document: inaccuracy. If your site is simply informational, perhaps this is not of a great consequence. However, if you are promoting products, financial information, or the website contains information about safety or health, then the accuracy of the translation becomes quite important.

When designing or redesigning a website you know will be translated, there are some things you can do to ease the process and keep expenses down.

  1. The first piece of advice is the same regardless of the medium: write in simple, concise, and clear language. By avoiding the use of jargon, acronyms, and idioms, you significantly ease the translation process. When writing is clear and not vague, your translator does not need to spend the time researching meanings and finding the proper terminology.
  1. The use of clear and accurate language throughout your site can make the use of translation memory quite relevant as well. Because webpages often require updating, translation memory can save significant time with technical words and phrases.
  1. Website design is as important as the content. When a person stops by your site, they often decide in less than two seconds if they are going to spend any amount of time there. If the layout of your site does not look appealing, they will leave without ever reading your content.
  • Clearly defined headers, titles, and navigation bars make the best sites user-friendly. If a visitor needs to search for what they want, quite often they won’t. When designing your site, be sure that your text boxes allow enough space for the target language. Remember, many languages (like German) combine words into single, very long words, and other languages must expand a two-word concept into an entire sentence.
  • Culturally relevant. Each culture has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to websites. Trying to force your preferences on your target audience is a sure way to get them to not spend time on your page. For example, Japanese sites are typically very colorful, covered in cute icons and graphics, and frequently include animation and roll-over GIFs. Using this same website design in Germany would likely not get the same positive response. When using icons, you want to make sure they are relevant and not offensive. Christian symbology is not popular in China or much of the Middle East. An Israeli flag would certainly not go over well in Islamic countries, and an American flag is not viewed with much more favor in many parts of the world.
  • Easily updatable. Complex graphics, hidden codes, fancy text styles, and so forth are not going to be easy to update, especially if the language pairs in question have significant contraction or expansion. Your template may also need to incorporate symbols instead of Roman characters if you are translating into Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.
  1. Your translated website will never be read if it cannot be found. In order for sites to be located, they must have effective SEO optimization. This optimization needs to be redone once translated. After all, not every language has the same keyword searches. In addition to adjusting titles, you will want to update links and meta descriptions as well.

In this world of global commerce, having a multilingual website is almost a necessity. When you are ready to take this step, be sure your translation service provider not only understands translation, but the world of e-commerce. An unprofessional or embarrassing website might be more damaging than not having one at all.

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