There are many ways to translate your website successfully. One of the popular approaches that developers and translation vendors will push is a website translation proxy. For the uninitiated, a translation proxy is a server that mirrors your English website and contains the various translated versions. When content changes on your English site, the adjustment occurs on the proxy site by either querying the database or triggering a translation task.
Proponents of the Translation Proxy Server (TPS) approach will cite ease of use, less administration, simple workflows, and reduced costs.
I am sure those benefits may exist for a small set of users, but overall, I believe the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits. Here are five reasons to avoid using a website translation proxy.
1) Ease of use
Yes, a translation proxy server may indeed reduce upkeep over time, but that ease of use exists with any good content management system connector. CMS connectors are available for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Sitecore, Kentico, Adobe Experience Manager, Sitefinity, Sharepoint, Typo3, and Episerver among numerous others.
A CMS connector will work like tracked changes in a word processing application. The translation management module will flag any content that is updated or new and out of synch with the translated versions of the site. The user batches those bits of content and submits for translation all via the CMS. Once the translation is complete, the text flows right back to the site. There is no file handling, no manual tracking of changes, and a direct link to your translation source.
2) Loss of control
Most TPS solutions provided by language service providers (LSPs) require that you cede control of your translated content. As a former buyer of translation services, I would never cede control of my content to a third party. That decision requires you only use the single translation provider and reduces competition for your projects. It will also limit your ability to separate from the LSP in the event you need to change to a different provider. If you use a CMS connector, you have complete control of the job assignment, the translation memory database, and all of your translated content.
The TPS will also limit any options you have for language localization. In other words, let’s say you would like to include different subject matter for the Chinese version of your site. A TPS doesn’t work well with differences across languages. The pages must mirror the source.
3) Simplified workflow
In a perfect world, a TPS would reduce the impact on the maintenance of a website. The automatic change detection and instant query for previously translated content certainly simplify the management of updates. However, a suitable CMS connector will do the same thing!
A CMS connector tracks all new content and modifications. It also includes the packaging and distribution of content, project management capabilities for monitoring the status of jobs, the extraction of SEO related material (meta tags, title tags, etc.), the translation of custom fields, and the translation of form fields.
The workflow resulting from this type of connector gives you the power of control over the website but retains the simplicity of tracking and handling your jobs in one interface.
4) Hosting costs and content delivery networks
A common advantage listed for using a Translation Proxy Server (TPS) is a reduction in hosting costs and the ability to leverage content delivery networks. Those were likely advantages that made sense a decade ago. The cost of hosting websites has been steadily decreasing over time. Even small businesses can afford dedicated servers through AWS or Google.
Content delivery networks (CDN) are an essential part of any website deployment strategy, especially for those companies with traffic originating from all over the globe. A CDN is just a geographically distributed set of servers that work together to provide speedy delivery of internet content to users around the world. A CDN can also be useful in preventing DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. CDN service is widely available to companies of all sizes through providers like Cloudflare.
In short, the cost and availability of robust hosting options and CDN no longer exist as an advantage of TPS over regular CMS.
5) The high cost of TPS solutions
We have competed against language service providers that provide TPS as their primary solution for website translation projects. The issue that comes up repeatedly is that the fixed cost of establishing the translation proxy server seems prohibitive. We have seen fees as high as $12,000 for the initial setup. Moreover, some LSPs will often hide update or termination fees in project agreements, pushing the cost even higher.
In contrast, the WPML connector for a WordPress site costs $79.
There a few specific situations where translation proxy servers make more sense than conventional content management systems, but for most corporate clients, the lack of control and the difficulty associated with changing language service providers are critical disqualifiers for a TPS solution.
Looking for an alternative to TPS? Contact us about utilizing a CMS connector or other cost-effective and secure solutions today.
Peter founded Argo Translation, originally based in Milwaukee, WI, in 1995. Prior to transferring his love of all things international and his savvy business expertise into Chicago’s premier translation agency, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he graduated with a major in finance and human resource management. After graduation he went on to become an Italian translator and project manager for an international medical equipment manufacturer and major airline.