How to Translate your website
We’ve all experimented with using online translation tools – usually through a search engine – to try and decipher a website that’s not in our native language.The result is usually a rather strange translation. Phrases are stilted, and sentence structures often make no sense. While the translation may be correct in a basic sense of swapping one word for another, online translators can be so literal that shades of meaning are lost entirely.
If you’re just after general information, it can be possible to forgive the poor translation and find the information you need from within the swamp of confusing phrases and muddled grammar. When it comes to presenting your own website to the world, though, you need your potential readers to be able to find and read your information easily in their preferred language, without it sounding as though a robot translated it.Using website translation services can make all the difference, ensuring that your website comes across to everyone in an easily understandable style, regardless of which language they are reading it in.
Why Proper Translation Is So Important
In a global economy, you never know from where your next client will come. It could be a popular French food blog looking to appeal to the American market, or someone in Australia trying to take care of a legal situation in China.You want to reassure potential customers that you not only understand their needs but can meet those needs, irrespective of language.
While machine translation can deliver word for word translation, it can’t account for cultural nuances. What might make senseto someone living in Munich could be puzzling to someone in Vienna,and possibly incomprehensible to someone in Brussels, even though German is a shared language in all three cities. That’s why professional translation and localization experts are so important when it comes to delivering your website in other languages. Proper translation is even more crucial when it comes to matters like your website’s terms and conditions page. Misunderstandings of the legal information in such pages are rare but can have serious consequences. Trusting such a specialised area of work to a machine to translate is asking for trouble! If you’re serious about embracing globalization and increasing exposure to your website, a translation agency is key for a successful transition.
Translation Vs. Localization
- Even when using a professional translation service, translation alone sometimes isn’t enough. Undertaking German to English translation, for example, can deliver the content of a site to those who can read English. However, if the site contains references to anything ranging from current politics to classic literature in Germany, the English reader may end up getting lost. This is where localization comes in.
- Localization is a process designed to ensure that the translation is understood by the reader in cultural terms, not just linguistic ones. It also ensures that the content doesn’t cause offence based on religious, political, ethical or any other grounds. Depending on the intended audience, this can sometimes be a detailed process, but it is essential in delivering a final translation that truly speaks to those reading it. Localization is especially important when doing keyword research and optimizing your content for a global audience. Translation companies can help you in these areas, since keywords aren’t universal and will need to be tailored for each language available for your site.
Finding and Choosing a Website Translation Service
Research your candidates online on reputable review sites, and don’t hesitate to ask business contacts for their recommendations as well.When you’re ready to decide on a translation agency, here are some qualities you should make it a point to seek out.
- Native speaker availability. Top translation companies will have access to translators who are native speakers of your desired languages. You can even go so far as to specify the region that you would like. For example, you can advise whether you prefer Mandarin Chinese translation or Cantonese Chinese translation, or whether you would like the end result delivered in US English or Australian English.
- Topic familiarity.When you present your website to a translation company, that company should be able to match you with a translator who is conversant with your website’s subject matter. Many subjects come complete with their ownterms and jargon.Some, like legal translation and medical translation, also require the translator to have an understanding of processes and concepts specific to that sector.Translation companies will provide you with a list of categories in which their translators can work so that they can ensure your website is translated by someone with relevant experience, as well as linguistic ability.
- Available services.As your website audience grows, your translation company should help you grow with it. A reputable agency can provide translations for audio, video (particularly important for social media), legal matters and even mobile applications.It’s well worth thinking about these additional services when initially appointing a translation agency to work on your website, in order to prepare for your future needs.
Once your chosen agency returns its first work to you, it’s always a good idea to have another party check the quality of the translation. Whether it’s a friend who speaks that particular language, a translator on a contractor site such as Fiverr or Upwork, or another translation company, it’s better to discover issues and deal with them before you post the translated content than to possibly risk embarrassing errors.
When it comes to taking your website to the next level and presenting it to international audiences, it’s important not to place all your faith in an automated system.Website translation services are the best choices for making sure that you and your future clients are on the same page. Your future profits could depend on it!
Louise Taylor is head of content at Tomedes, a translation company working with website owners across the world to deliver superior quality translations. She holds qualifications in four languages, in addition to her native English.