Does your business have international appeal? Are you ready to seek out customers across borders? Website localisation is an important step to building a global business. But it takes more than just the press of a button to translate your site effectively.
Here are 7 guidelines you need to know before you start your website localisation project.
Free Translation Isn’t Free (So Hire a Professional Team)
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Sure, you could “just use Google Translate” or any number of “free translation” plugins. However, even though many of these tools are more accurate than they were a decade ago, they’re still far from perfect. Google’s own guidelines warn against relying on automatic translations– they may be perceived as spam! You don’t want to make Google angry, do you?
Free translation tools can’t preserve the feel or the impact of your original marketing message. They can’t take cultural differences into account. And the inevitable mistakes can damage your brand, along with your standing amongst your international customers.
Choose the Right Target Markets
You want your business to conquer the world. But that doesn’t mean you need to translate your site into every language at once. Start small. Choose one or two target markets where your business has a likelihood of succeeding, and begin there.
Then, dive deep into understanding those target markets. Analyse them to understand customer expectations and habits before you begin. We recommend hiring someone who understands your target market and its culture from the inside out to avoid accidental mishaps.
Design Your Site With Localisation in Mind
At a bare minimum, your website design needs to be able to accommodate the differences in word length and reading direction between different languages.
Text can expand and contract as it’s translated from one language to another. Think of Alice in Wonderland growing and shrinking with each bite of the mushroom and you’ll get an idea of what happens to web content when it’s translated into different languages.
For example, translating from English to German can result in text expansion of up to 35%, on average. On the other hand, translating from English into Korean can result in 10-15% contraction. Choosing a flexible layout that can accommodate text of different lengths will save a lot of trouble later.
Some redesigning may also be necessary when translating into languages like Hebrew or Arabic, which read right-to-left instead of left-to-right.
Beyond these considerations, it’s also important to consider the aesthetic and design preferences of your target culture. Even the predominant colour scheme on your site may need to be adjusted to account for local preferences.
Translation Management Software for Website Localisation
Website localisation is a big job. In theory, you could get by using documents and spreadsheets. But don’t. This is 2020, come back to the future. While we may not have those flying cars we were promised, we do have access to many different technological tools that make complex tasks easier. That means using translation management software to manage translation projects.
Good translation management software:
- Makes the localisation process more efficient.
- Cuts the time to completion.
- Makes it easier to find and correct errors before they go live.
- Enhances communication between stakeholders.
Look for translation management software with the following features:
- An API to automate changes.
- Centralised communication between all members of the translation team.
- Direct website translation/CMS connectors, to push translated content directly to your site.
- Translation memories, which automatically match previously translated words and phrases so you don’t have to pay to translate the same material twice.
Of course, if you work with us, you’ll have the benefit of Tracklingua, our bespoke translation project management software. Request, receive and manage translation requests from our user-friendly dashboard, available in the cloud 24/7 for your convenience.
Around the world, most people find new websites through search engines. If you want your website to get international traffic, you need to rank for relevant keywords.
It’s not enough to simply optimise the English-language version of your site, send it off to be translated and hope for the best. Your site needs to be optimised for the keywords people search for in the markets you’re targeting. Think about the differences even between British and American English and you’ll understand why you need to do keyword research for each market.
The site also needs to be optimised for the search engines your market uses, which may or may not be Google.
For an in-depth look at multilingual SEO, see How to Win at Multilingual SEO in 2019.
Technical Tips for Website Localisation
Make sure your programmers are familiar with the technical aspects of localisation. This can include making allowances for different time zones, currencies, and address formats. It also includes using Unicode for text to properly represent different languages and scripts.
Additionally, as privacy concerns come to the fore, business owners must keep abreast of international regulations on data collection and monitoring user behavior. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines!
The last step before the foreign-language version of your site goes live should be a thorough quality assurance process. Proofreading for errors in grammar, spelling or punctuation is just the beginning of this.
You should also test to insure that images are displaying correctly, that your site is correctly handling multilingual inputs like street addresses, dates and currency, that translated text is displaying correctly. Everything must load quickly and work as it should, or you risk scaring off your visitors.
There are no shortcuts on the road to an effectively localised website. However, you don’t have to go it alone. K International is here to assist at every step. From skilled linguists to talented designers, international SEO specialists and multilingual marketers, our team is ready to help you seamlessly communicate with your international customers.
For more information about our services or to discuss your next website localisation project, contact us today!