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Six top tips for translating your website

Six top tips for translating your website

By Jurga Zilinskiene, CEO of Today Translations.

More and more businesses, large and small, are starting to realise the value of translating their websites into the languages of their key target markets. No wonder. In a globalised world, increasingly dominated by a globalised medium – the Internet – it makes business sense to reach out to customers in their own language.

This is especially true when in two situations:  

a) When your competitors have already translated their websites but you haven’t, giving them a vital edge.

b) When competitors have yet to translate their websites, allowing you a vital edge over them by doing so.

It’s about intelligibility but it’s also about respect – by talking to your prospective customers in their own language, you have got to be improving your chances of winning their business.

What’s more, translating your website does not need to be expensive, or difficult – provided you know what you are doing and how to avoid some common mistakes.

Here are six basic pointers to get you started. 

1. Maintain Control Of Your Brand

Your firm has probably spent a lot of money on its brand. You therefore don’t want to risk harming it when you are expanding into foreign markets.

So, what, for example, should your product or service be called in Arabic or Russian? Indeed, should you translate it at all – or, should you just keep it in English? These are critical issues to consider if you want to make sure that visitors to your site experience exactly what you want them to experience.

We have run brand-name audits for firms looking to expand internationally, to make sure that they’re not in for any nasty surprises, such as discovering that their brand-name means something unfortunate in the language of their latest target market. After all, it’s been known to happen – and not just with small businesses, with many translation blunders passing into business folklore.

Working this out ahead of time will help your translation projects go smoothly and will ensure that you maintain control of your brand across all languages.

2. Decide How Much Of Your Website You Need To Translate

Yes, translating the entire website is desirable but it’s not essential – at least initially.
Depending on your budget, it might be enough to make a start by translating just the home-page and a few other key pages. You can always go back and translate more at a later date.

3. Consider The Size, Length And Style Of Text In Different Languages

You feel that you have perfected your English website and love the way it looks. But are you aware that, upon translation, German text on average uses a third more characters per word than English? Or that Arabic is read from right to left?

It is vital to maximise the impact of your website in all languages. To achieve this, you must be prepared to collaborate with your translation provider to make your website as appealing as possible.

4. Give Your Translator A Glossary Of Key Terms Relevant To Your Business

Your translation provider may employ experts in your company’s industry, but they must also be expert in your company’s style and image. To help familiarise them with these details, it is vital to provide them with as much preparatory material as possible.

Any glossary of key terms or other relevant material that you can provide to translators will be a big help. Once the translator has got to know your company’s approach to business, he or she should be able to provide more accurate translation.

5. Structure Your Translation Deal Properly From The Start

If your website is going to be updated regularly with content for international visitors, it stands to reason that you will also need regular translations.

In this case, it will be worthwhile spending some time to consider the overall volume of the project. You may be eligible for some discounts from your translation provider, with whom you should seek to work out a properly structured relationship from the start.

6. Pick The Right Translation Service Provider

Last but arguably most important, make sure that you pick a translation supplier with experience and reputation. A good agency will be able to advise you on how your message will be received by its foreign target audience.

There may be a myriad of cultural, social or political meanings contained in any translation, which a non-native will never grasp or even notice. But if you make sure you’re working with a reliable agency, they will ensure that you don’t end up looking foolish.

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