10 Things You Should Know About Multilingual Website Translation


Today, it is clear that having a multilingual website will help companies to better serve their audiences and attract new customers and sales not only in the USA but abroad as well. Larger organizations often have a multicultural or Latino marketing department which would join forces with IT to launch multilingual sites. However, not all organizations do. If you do not, do you know all that is involved? We have compiled the ten things you should know that are key to a smooth launch of a bilingual or multilingual site that is culturally sensitive and relevant.

1. Strategy: Make sure you have a strategy in place for reaching out to multicultural markets in the USA or an international audience.  Does your website trigger touch points such as marketing e-mails, brochures, postcards and fliers? Will you translate those as well?

2. Language: How many languages will you be translating into?  What about the tone? Will it be formal or informal? For instance, if you are translating into Spanish, you will need to determine if you are translating into more formal voice (usted) or informal and friendlier voice (tú). Also, you need to determine if you will have different Spanish versions (i.e. for USA, Latin America, or Spain).

3. Layout Design and Space. Will your site support a bilingual or multilingual layout? If you are redesigning the original English layout now, make sure to leave enough white space for expansion. Whenever possible, let the translator know in advance of any space constraints. By doing so, you won’t need to get back to them and ask them to edit and shorten the text.  This is particular true when it comes to buttons and calls to action.  Note that Romance languages usually expand about 20% when translated from English.  Asian languages require larger fonts which take up space as well.

4. Content: Make sure to provide translators with final and approved text, otherwise edits will cause delays and higher expense as another full round of translation, editing and QA might be necessary. If you are still writing the copy, try to avoid plays on words. They often lose their original power in translation. Advise your translator of any non-translatable text such as acronyms, product names, department names, etc.

5. Brand/Tagline: Will your brand work globally? Will it make sense to translate your tagline or do you need to create a new one for new markets? Some companies decide to leave the tagline in English. If you decide to translate it, allow enough time for it. Note that translating this type of copy requires strong copywriting skills and creativity to reproduce its powerful effect into the target language.

6. User Experience: Make sure that the translated site offers the same experience as the original site.

Banners.- If your site has banners, do you plan to translate them? Or will you have a different messaging and promotions specifically for the target markets? Do the banners change on a frequently basis? If so, make sure to budget frequent translation as well in case you don’t have a professional translator in house.

Landing Pages.- There are sites that are very rich in content; however, many businesses decide to translate just portions of their sites first and not all landing pages. This is a valid approach. But make sure to let the user/customer know what to expect.  Creating an interstitial page explaining that the rest of the content would be in English, for example, could be a good idea. Another simple option would be just write “In English” next to the call to action that takes you to additional content.

Imagery and pictures.- Does your current imagery resonate with the target market? This is critical, too. You need to make sure all your images and pictures are culturally relevant.

Videos.-Are there any videos that would be worth translating? May be you can choose the top three that need translation. You can subtitle the videos or do a voice over or dubbing. Subtitling is usually a more affordable and quicker approach.

Telephone Numbers.-Will you have different telephone number for your non-English speaking-clients or those that prefer to speak in their native language? If so, make sure to give this number to the translator in advance so that they can replace the telephone number in every instance.

7. HTML or Word Documents: Whether you have an in-house team of translators or you are planning to outsource the translation, you will have to decide if you want the translations back in word documents or html. See advantages and disadvantage here.

8. Dynamic Content and SEO: In our experience, these two items get often overlooked and can cause delays in the project schedule. Make sure to provide your translator with a list of all error messages for translation. If you are planning to have a multilingual SEO campaign later, plan for the translation or creation of in-language title tags and meta tags.

9. Translation process in timeline: Make sure to include the translation process in the overall timeline.  Consider the actual time it took you to write, proof, and approve the original concept, and imagine a team of translators going through a similar thought process to localize it for the specific target culture and region.

10. Professional Translation Company. Make sure you hire a translation agency that works with native and professional translators and that has a strong quality assurance process.

Reaching out to people in their own language builds rapport, engages them, and makes it easier to sell to them.  Studies show that users prefer to read and buy from web sites in their native language, but if these sites do not read as if they were originally crafted in their native language or are not culturally appealing, they will actually have the opposite effect and might even damage your brand and reputation.

Language Concepts Consulting is a boutique provider of multilingual translation services. Languages we translate from and into include: English, French, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese and many more. We are experts at handling large-scale website translation projects from the planning stages to the production launch. Let us handle your localization project from beginning to end so that you can focus on your business.

For more information, please give us a call at 480.626.2926 or visit us at www.languageconceptsllc.com.

Kathy Paredes


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