Translating your website: 8 questions to ask yourself before starting!

When thinking about translating your website, the first questions which usually spring to mind are: Does everything need to be translated? Who is the target audience? Where is the target geographical area?

But these questions, although important, are not the only ones which must be addressed when launching the translation of a website.

Some of the others are listed below.

What type of website are you looking to get translated?

TradOnline categorizes websites into 3 different types:

  • Corporate or presentation websites: the content is rarely very technical, how it’s delivered is just as important as what’s said, and the site’s static content is made to stand the test of time.

By static content we mean the foundations of the website, including menus, categories, FAQs and sometimes even T&Cs and legal information.

Promotional offers, blog posts, links to press articles which mention your product, etc. are not considered to be static content.

For these types of project, we always recommend a translation service offered by a senior translator, with verification by a second translator. Why this double-checking, you ask? Because our translators are human and nobody is immune to human error. This proofreading also allows the wording of certain sentences to be improved, so that your corporate website is equally as impactful in a foreign language as in its native one.

  • E-commerce websites: this category is pretty vast and therefore difficult to generalize. One thing we can say is that an e-commerce site contains a database of products as well as the classic elements that can be found on a corporate website. An important factor when translating an e-commerce website is the  key terminology, which can have a huge impact on the number of visitors who become clients. The translation is therefore of significant importance.

What do we mean by “key terminology”? It refers to all clickable links on the website, including the calls to action, which invite visitors to browse key products on your website.

For example: which is more attractive, a button which tells you to “click here” or another which says “come and have a look at our new products”? In this case, it’s more of a marketing technique to appeal to visitors.

  • Software-as-a-service or cloud websites: in general, these are types of software found online. In this case, we invite our clients to send us the content of this software in a format of their choice (html, xml, json, etc.). We then return the translated documents in the same format, so that they can be directly inputted in the same way as the originals.

4 ways to guarantee the desired quality of translation

1 – No matter the nature of the website you would like us to translate, we absolutely advise that you create a style guide and send it to us at the start of the project.

In terms of creating this style guide, one of the first questions to ask yourself is if you would like to use the formal or informal ‘you’ when addressing your users. Although this notion no longer exists in English, it is found in many other languages. (Although, if thou hast never taken the time, thou wouldst be well advised to read up on “thou”! It’s often used as a facetious mockery of formality nowadays, but you may be surprised to learn that “thou” was actually the informal way to refer to close friends or family – the equivalent of “tu” in French or “du” in German – whereas “you” was more formal – vous or Sie, respectively.)

2 – The question of target country is equally very important, as there can be a number of differences between a language as spoken in two different countries.

3 – Have you thought ahead about the impact of the translation on the design of your multilingual website? It should be noted that, depending on the language, your texts might take up more or less space on your webpage. Therefore, it might be necessary to rethink the page layout in some languages. However, if you would like the page layout to be absolutely identical, we can restrict our translators to a specific character limit.

4  – What about variables? In certain texts we will find this type of phrase: “%d songs”, in which “%d” represents a whole number. It should be noted that plural rules vary according to the language: for most, there is only one singular and one plural form, but certain languages contain many different plurals (such as Russian, with 4). Therefore, it is very important to identify these variables at the beginning of the project in order to avoid dealing with them like ordinary sections.

4 questions that count for our quote

1 – The central issue is the amount of text to be translated, the frequency of updates, the lifespan of the content and, ultimately, the total budget allocated to the translation. These questions are inextricably linked, and your project manager will be able to recommend the best solution using the answers you provide.

2 – Should we translate your newsletter, blog, transactional emails, URL, images, metadata, etc.?

3 – What about /search engine optimisation? Is this something that interests you? Do you have a partner agency? Do you have certain constraints to adhere to? Would you like TradOnline to help you with this?

4 – Furthermore, if we were asked to work on your content management system, the price would not be the same as if we were to translate blocks of text or isolated segments. This is because an isolated segment, by definition, lacks context. And it is this context which helps translators work out how to translate a particular term. So the shorter the segments to translate are, the longer the translator will need to take to translate them, and therefore the more expensive the translation will be.

In general, if you are thinking about internationalizing your website, whatever type it is, we suggest that you consider the process of changing your site internally and nominate someone to be in charge of communication with your translation agency. Good organisation is often the key to an efficient website with up-to-date information.