Considerations for website & app translation

Increasingly, our projects include translating text that will be used online or in mobile apps. These translation projects, while quite interesting, can pose unique challenges.

Many translation projects, such as letters, personal documents and lightly formatted brochures, are pretty straightforward. When documents are highly formatted with special fonts and embedded text within graphics, they require a certain level of pre- and post-translation project preparation. Website and app translation projects may also require their own type of project prep. Just as a design document may need special attention to graphics (especially those containing text), websites and apps may also have graphics in the form of icons, buttons and screen shots which also have text that needs translation. Similarly, design, web and app files oftentimes need to be converted into formats that are compatible with translation tools and upon completion exported back into the native file format.

As with any translation project, there are cultural differences that must be taken into account when publishing websites and apps for global audiences. For example, the colors used and the shapes of icons may not be the best option for the countries in which a company plans to launch sites or distribute apps. Other areas to be reviewed include spacing rules, text direction, date and currency formats, etc. Even the size of the font should be considered. Imagine how difficult it would be to read intricate Asian language characters in the equivalent of 6 or 8 point font. For more information on internationalization and multilingual web standards, see the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

When considering language service providers for these types of projects, it is important to choose one that is knowledgeable enough to provide an accurate cost/time analysis, is experienced in handling a variety of file formats and works with linguists who are highly-skilled in translating text that may contain code, tags and hyperlinks.