How to make sure your website translation is effective and comprehensible?

2. 1. 2019

Are you expanding into foreign markets and anticipate growing interest in your company and your products or services (both online and offline) from abroad? Do you do business with a global entity whose parent company is based in a foreign country? Do you hire candidates who do not speak your language? These are only some of the main reasons why you should consider having your website, and possibly also other channels where your company presents itself, translated into a foreign language.

One-third of people around the world speak English...

...however, that does not mean that your website must exist only in English. (And if it does, should it be in British or American English?)

Think about the specific group(s) of users who will most likely interact with your website. Based on that, choose language versions or local dialects that they will best understand.

Your foreign audience is most likely quite diverse and therefore, the English version of your website is crucial. On the other hand, you should also take into account that some nationalities do not favor English and therefore, it is better to provide them with a translation in their own official language. In Europe, this applies to the French, Spanish, Italians and Hungarians, but it also pays off to have a German version of your website if you are targeting the German market. There are also differences between younger and older generations...

In short, be sure you closely map out and analyze your target audience. This will really pay off, especially if the purpose of your website is not only to provide information (in which case, the translation must be comprehensible), but also to sell (in which case, the translation must reflect the requirements and habits of your customers to best achieve the desired effect).

A word-for-word translation versus localization

The previous recommendation goes hand-in-hand with the specific wording and formulation of the content that you wish to have translated. Review your existing texts and decide whether they are still up to date and whether their word for word translation is suitable for a target audience of a different nationality. You will most likely come to the conclusion that smaller or bigger changes are needed – whether they concern the specific wording of some texts, the omission of certain pages or simply a brand new website.

When assigning your website for translation, you should also think about which graphic elements, interactive buttons and attached forms and PDF files you actually want to have translated and what you wish to leave in the original version.

Translation is just one piece of the puzzle

You have clarified why, how and what you wish to have translated; but what about the actual webhosting platform onto which you publish your texts? Before you spend the money and effort on the translation, check the technical functionalities of your web editor. If you do not have a dedicated webmaster and use your own web content management system, be sure to verify which languages it supports. Some languages (including Czech, but also Polish, Russian, Greek, Arabic and Chinese) use extended font systems or even a different writing direction.

Do you feel a little overwhelmed and need some help? We have a lot of experience with website translations and with all kinds of national and cultural differences that may arise. We can also translate directly from the source code, which means that the content structure will remain unchanged and we will save you some time. Ask for a quote!


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