Website Localization for Dummies: 3 Basic Things You Should Know About

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In the age of the Internet it would be insane for any business not to have a website. Moreover, it is globalization that dictates the pace, and if you want to be a part of the global economy you should get not only an up-to-date website but a website translated into several languages.

For a person unfamiliar with the world of translation and localization it can be a real challenge to figure out what to start with. Some insight into the topic would be a use for those thinking about going beyond national borders.

Let’s start with a few important things you shall know before ordering a translation.

  1. Why do you need your website translated?

Although English is now a universal language almost all over the world, still we shouldn’t forget that people love when they are talked to in their mother tongue. Localization of your website into other languages demonstrates your serious attitude and intention to attract a specific audience. Today people search most information online and check out a website in order to decide if they trust your product/service or not. A few seconds is enough to choose whether to leave your website or proceed with you. That is why it is so important to make a website not only visually attractive, easy-to-use, and stuffed with necessary information, but also linguistically friendly.

  1. Why is quality so important for a website translation?

Machine translation is now accessible to everyone and doesn’t cost anything, and some business owners used to think that it is enough for their website: “My customers will be able to catch the main idea. What else do they need?” This strategy has shown itself as absolutely wrong. It can probably make some sense for big platforms selling billions of goods and adding new items every day. Indeed they do not need top-quality translation of each item description, although even for these websites it would be better to localize main page, menu and other elements which are either fixed or rarely changed.

Nevertheless, even in case with selling platforms a customer would prefer a more expensive good/service to a cheaper option if the first one is offered by a trendy website with neatly translated descriptions. This is all about your business image, and even the higher price would look as a guarantee of a better quality. This is where we can talk about the added value of a top-quality translation.

4 main quality criteria you should know about:

  • Accuracy of translation (no important information is omitted or misrepresented),
  • Literacy of translation (no mistakes and typos),
  • Fluency of translation (good style and readability), and
  • Not just translation, but localization (text is adapted for the target audience).

You may be surprised to learn how many potential customers are being missed every day due to poorly written texts. No matter how diligent you are in describing all benefits of buying your product or service, all your efforts will be devaluated by errors striking the eye of your potential clients. Your reputation might be put into question, and most people aren’t ready to spend time on checking whether this impression is right or not. In contrast, solid approach to your website design and localization is something like an implicit message: ‘We are so good and reliable in everything we do.’

  1. Agency or freelancer – what is better?

If you know nothing about translation business, you will definitely run into this dilemma. So let’s make a small comparative analysis of these 2 options:

Agency

Freelancer
Pluses

Pluses

Enough capacity for huge multilingual projects. Individual approach and greater motivation due to higher income.
Selection of translators and editors is its complete responsibility. You may also order DTP and other related services at one place. No intermediaries: you know a person you work with and can address all questions and issues directly, so that they are solved quickly and more effectively.

Minuses

Minuses

Agent’s fee is high, and very often translators are underpaid by agencies what demotivates them. Generally works with one or two language pairs only.
You never know who works under your translation: sometimes tests are completed by best translators while the project itself may be subcontracted to more affordable linguists. You may need to hire an independent editor. (Today many freelancers cooperate with colleagues so this problem may not occur. For example my husband and I offer complex service – translation + editing).
It’s a general practice for agencies to distribute large volumes among several translators what inevitably affects quality. Please always try to give reasonable deadlines and ask your agency to hire only 1 translator for your project. DTP and other related services are rarely offered by freelance translators. You might need to find a DTP specialist.

As you may see, there are enough pros and cons for each option, and your choice will always depend on specific requirements of your business. Anyway, always be careful and diligent while selecting your translation and localization partners: you may meet nonprofessionals anywhere whether it is a huge agency or a freelance translator.

A small linguistic trick: if your original website does not have an English version, start your localization epic with a high-quality translation into this language of international communication. It is much easier to find experienced translators working with English as their main source language.

Conclusion

Is it time for your business to push the boundaries? Are you ready to start talking to your foreign audience in their mother tongue? Be smart: take your time and start with learning simple basic things about terra incognita named translation and localization. Next step is a selection process itself – an important topic worth looking at in details. I hope my future post will help you not to fall a victim to nonprofessionals.

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