CONVERTING YOUR WEBSITE INTO OTHER LANGUAGES – Don’ts and Do’s
How much revenue will you gain by preparing your website into the languages of your potential customers?
How much will you lose by not doing itâ€¦. or assuming that the whole world speaks English?
[FYI, Only about 27% of world internet users do. Please click for stats.]
Even in fields such as IT or Semiconductors or some aspects of Medicine in which most people worldwide do use English, addressing potential customers in their native languages â€¦ written correctly â€¦ makes them feel that you want and value their business.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Some firms, even multinationals, think that relying on machine translation (MT, also known as translation software such as Babelfish or Google Translate) will suffice. This is often because they are in a hurry and think that having something is better than nothing. But in most cases, nothing is the revenue that the MT version will produce.
MT has its uses. Advertising / Marketing / Promotion is not one of them; the results are often filled with incorrect grammar, misspellings, wrong word usage, garbled sentence structure and comical mistakes.
Your in-house native speakers should normally not write your website either. How will you know whether their spelling, grammar, technical terminology and sentence structure are correct?
Using MT or unqualified in-house native speakers can make your prospective customer feel like you are showing:
- Lack of concern (“If you address me in my language so sloppily, will you treat me, your foreign customer, that way too? Why would I think that you really want my business?”);
- Unprofessionalism (“If XYZ Company can’t even do its website well, how good can they really be?”); and
- Inattention to detail (“XYZ Company’s product demands precision. If they aren’t precise on their website, how can I trust that their product will work as promised?”).
DOING IT RIGHT
Professional website localization (to use the proper term) involves:
- Internationalizing terminology, numbers, dates, currency, images and more;
- Acculturating the words and concepts so they are appropriate for the target country.
- Translation by a subject-specialized, professionally trained translator of each target language;
- Editing/Revising: Review by a second subject-specialized, professionally trained translator of each target language to ensure accuracy;
- Proofreading of the target-language spelling, punctuation, grammar and formatting;
- Translation and layout of the text in graphics, pictures or images;
- Proofing graphics and all other images;
- Engineering: Changing the code, if needed, so that it works with non-Latin writing systems (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) and right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew;
- Testing all the links to make sure they work properly in each language.
- Translating your metatags, the key-word identifiers through which searchers can find you.
Three website localization choices
The hardest part of the language localization process is not the implementation. The biggest barrier is clients’ deciding what parts of their site they want done: All those news articles? Five years of press releases or just six months’ worth? All blog posts? All sublinks to other products or sites? Brochure PDF downloads? All product descriptions or just certain ones?.
The other critical issue is to decide which parts of your site to localize:
- Full website: Your entire site, whether big or small;
- Abridged website: Home page, Contact page, and key product pages;
- Summary website: A one-two page description of your company, probably as a .doc file, translated into many languages and uploaded as target-language docs or PDFs.
But once those decisions are made, both the website localization process — and global revenue — can start flowing more quickly.
Registering your site abroad
After website localization, your metatags and your company name can also be translated and written in foreign scripts. This can be done phonetically, or by translating the component words (such as “Solar Power Products Incorporated”), or by creating a new corporate name and identity for the overseas market. This method is often done for China and Taiwan.
And then, a professional language service can register it abroad with the host countries’ major search engines.
Postponing. Inaction. Indecision. Perceived complications. Those are the four most common reasons why companies do not localize their websites, even with the quick Summary option. And the greater the delay, the less global revenue will flow. It is relatively fast and easy for a translation service to implement the process. But if â€¦
- your budget;
- your committee’s inability to decide what parts (not) to include; or
- your lack of time â€¦
â€¦ prevent you from localizing your entire site now, it is best to start smaller first and do more later. Attracting some overseas business is better than attracting no overseas business. And using a professional language localization service is usually better than damaging your image by using software or amateurs.
NEW! View our latest Website Localization Video