Pros, Cons & Tips When Translating a Website on HTML


Larger companies with enough resources within their IT and Graphic Design departments often embark on the design/redesign and localization of their corporate websites on their own.  Quite often as well, they decide to outsource the translation and have the translations done in HTML instead of Word documents thinking it would be easier and faster.  But is it? Let´s examine this critically important question:

Advantages of Translating directly on HTML:

  1. It saves time: Your IT resources can simply upload the translated HTML pages in the staging site before moving into production.
  2. It allows for a more accurate translation: Translators are able to open the file in any browser i.e. Internet Explorer and “see” how the page will look like, for example, where buttons and links go to, etc.  This way, the content can be seen “in-context” and within its intended lay-out. This is critical to achieve a more accurate translation.
  3. It minimizes room for outrageous errors: Since Word docs are not involved, IT resources won’t be copying, pasting and quite often chopping critical information in a language they often don’t read or understand.

Disadvantages of Translating directly on HTML:

  1. Longer translation process:  HTML is not a friendly environment for translators. It definitely takes longer to translate while paying close attention to avoid deleting codes, even if they are color-coded.
  2. Longer and more tedious review process: The translation review process takes longer as CAT (computer-assisted translations), which are used for consistency purposes, do not only always work well with HTML pages.  Additionally, there is no spell check available.
  3. Forgetting about dynamic content: The text for translation is not always clear in HTML.  For instance, sometimes there are error messages that are not visible when opening the browser. Unless translators are specifically told to look for those, they will miss translating key dynamic content such as error messages.

Below are five (5) tips to make your translation project go smoothly and achieve high quality translations should you decide to have your company´s website translated directly in HTML:

  1. After chopping up all HTML pages one by one for translation, make sure to group them by their particular tab/section.  This way, translators will start translation in the correct flow and order. This is key to understand the topic as a whole and achieve high quality translations.
  2. Get together with the translation project manager or lead translator and develop a Style Guide for translation (i.e. use of upper and lower case, etc.). Provide them with a monolingual or bilingual glossary, if available.
  3. Provide your preferred translation agency or translator with a file containing all dynamic content for translation, i.e. error messages.
  4. Provide your preferred translation agency or translator with a copy of the sitemap or give them access to the actual original site. If it is not live yet, give them access to a pre-production site for translation so they have context on how the site will flow.
  5. Make sure to give the translation agency access to the translated staging site for a final review and testing before you send the translated site to production.  This final step of QA is critical, but it is often overlooked.

Translating a website in HTML has pros and cons from a technical and translation standpoint, both of which ultimately will have an effect on the timeframe of your project and the quality of the final translation. However, with your involvement, specific directions for translators, and strong and experienced project management, there is no reason why your website localization or translation will not be a total success.

Language Concepts Consulting is a boutique provider of multilingual translation service. 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 go-live day. Let us handle your localization project from beginning to end so that you can focus on your business.

For more information, please contact us or give us a call at 480.626.2926!

Kathy Paredes



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