When translating a website the temptation is to forge ahead and simply do it. There are, however, many potential pitfalls on the road to a perfect multi-lingual website and here are our top tips.
So, here is our ultimate list of when it’s time to translate your website and what to consider when you are doing it.
1. Do you actually need to do it?
Now this should be an obvious question, but it is something that most companies forget to consider. Let’s say you translated your website into Polish and suddenly an enquiry comes in from Poland wanting to know more details about your products but all the detailed information is only available in English and your prospect’s grasp of English is limited. You wonder whether you should rush a translation through or just send it in English; either way does not feel right to you.
Only translate your website when you are ready to actually sell to this country.
2. Go all the way.
Oh the frustration of finally finding a potential supplier for that specific part you are looking for. You visit their website and your heart leaps since their homepage is available in your language. Then you click on the product page and you are disappointed: none of the products is translated into your language. You have no idea what is what and you leave the website, never to return.
Don’t just translate the homepage, translate all the online content including T&Cs, legal notices etc.
3. Meet your clients where they are
Some companies have a great sense of humour and funny quotes are part of their website. Some like to play with words or use metaphors. Maybe that’s great for the country where you are based, but these kind of things rarely (well, really never) work once translated. Something that is hilarious in one language and totally makes sense may not translate well at all. Make sure that you insist that your language provider adapts your website to the local customs rather than just providing a 1 to 1 translation.
It is important to find the right balance between your brand message and your potential customer’s perception of it.
4. Create a style guide
Your website looks great in the original language: it has lovely use of fonts, headlines and layout. In the other languages it all is a bit muddled. There are suddenly no headlines, odd fonts are used and the layout is all over the place. Deal with these issues beforehand, because to rectify them later will take a lot of time and effort.
The idea of a styleguide may seem costly, but it will save you lots of money in the long run.
Videos on websites have become increasingly popular and rightly so. If you use videos to sell your products and services, make sure that they are available in all the languages you feature on your website. You can achieve this either by sub-titling or by doing voiceover-recordings.
Video is an important sales tool, don’t miss out on selling because you did not want to localise this part of your website.
Are you images suitable for other countries? Avoid text on images as this can only add to translation costs down the line. Don’t use confusing imagery or those that could cause offense or get your website banned in certain countries.
Images are important for websites, but make sure you research your options properly.
7. How to get in touch
Often we find websites that do not bother translating their contact info. What’s the international telephone code for Belize? I don’t know, so if you want me to ring you in Belize, you should really provide it; or addresses that don’t specify which country. “15 via del Santiago, Pocobello, 55310″. No idea where that is? Well, neither will your prospect.
Make sure your prospects can contact you.
Abbreviations are great. They reduce the word count and word count is money. Right? Wrong. Always, and we mean always, explain what the abbreviation stands for. You may know what UKTI is, but will your prospect in China know? If your company is a member of a prestigious organisation such as the IOD and your prospect in Germany does not know what that is, then it is meaningless. So you would say: “Our company uses expert advice provided by UKTI (United Kingdom Trade International – an organisation that provides exporting know-how to businesses). Or another example: Our Managing Director, John Smith, is a member of the IOD (Institute of Directors – an international organisation that supports businesses and professional leaders).
You may know what the abbreviation means, but will your prospects know it too?
Website translation does not have to be tasking, working with the right language service provider can make it even a great experience and will ensure that your brand remains consistent across the language barrier.