Everything you need to know for a successful website translation

Which foreign markets should you be communicating with?


GearTranslations Internationalization Content marketing Translation SMBs


The world is a small place, and what better way to prove this theory than by creating a multilingual website.Thanks to the web, most of the barriers to reaching new markets have evaporated, minus one: the dreaded language barrier. A successful website is one that communicates with international consumers of each of the market destinations you want to do business with. Languages with the most online presence in order of importance are: English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, German and Arabic. So, what do we have to take into account to ensure effective communication with these different cultures?

There are many points to consider before sending text to translate, which will avoid future inconveniences. One of the most important thing that you should understand is that when we translate websites, we are working on a text with programming code, images, flash files, etc. The website programmer will really appreciate being made aware from the beginning that what you want to do is generate a multilingual website in the future. This is because the programming varies if each text that is visible on the website is going to be unique or, for example, if it is going to have three versions.

In addition, it’s also important that the website’s text spaces are dynamic and automatically adjustable to text extension. For example, a text in Spanish is 20% more extensive than an English text. Or a text in Arabic is read from right to left, meaning that the text alignment will vary. The encoding of the website also has to be compatible with the different characters of the different languages. We’ve all seen those hieroglyphs filled with squares and “&%” signs when a website can’t read an accent. It’s even worse if it’s a Chinese character! And finally, the less text that is in image format, the better. In this way, design costs are saved in the translation because if the text is editable, it is simply overwritten and it’s not necessary to redesign the image.

As for hiring a language translation service provider, it’s important to check if they work with translation memories that facilitate website updates and that the translation process relies not only on the translators but also on the advice of creative writers, who generate friendly and attractive texts to fit the style of different cultures. The translation service has to have had experience with website translation. Check that the team of translators understand what a source code is and that they can translate the embedded text without modifying the code. The ideal case here would be to hire recognised translation agencies, as they have interdisciplinary resources that will treat the whole process in an integral way.

Finally, to ensure quality, once the translation process is complete and website texts have been adapted to other cultures, the translation agency has to review the online text translations prior to the launch. This way you can modify text translations in the code format that are not completely clear or if you don’t really understand how they are going to be shown. The site must be published on a server that allows the translation agency to work on translations without it even being exposed to online consumers.

Even after reading everything that has to be taken into account when undergoing internationalisation, some companies choose to invest in automatic online translators that are ‘specialised’ in website translation. Take a moment to think of the potential harm of this. A website is your first initial contact with potential clients in markets overseas. Would you hire a robot to talk to a potential client and have them tell international consumers what your product/service is about and how great it is? Somehow, if a robot was trying to sell their product to me, I wouldn’t be convinced. For those who invest only in automatic website translations, bid farewell to expanding your business at a global level! Be smarter than that and hire a translation agency to help you speak to the heart of international consumers and boost international sales.