What’s The Best Way to Translate a Website?

While the majority of companies have staked out their claim on the internet, not everyone is taking advantage of all of the global possibilities that it brings.

Going global is the best way to grow, and you need to have strong translators ready to help foreign clients learn about you. If you don’t know the best way to translate a website, you could waste a lot of time and energy doing it the wrong way.

Here are five things you need to know when translating your website for a new audience.

1. Figure Out Your Audience

Before you go ahead with the work of translating a website, you need to define your audience. Unless you know what language combination works for your audience, you could go through all the work of translating and still miss the mark.

Instead of thinking about a specific language, think about localization. When you’re going from English to Spanish, are you going from American English to Mexican or Puerto Rican Spanish? How about Latin America versus Spain?

Are you speaking to readers of a specific age range or a specific educational background? Or, are you targeting a general audience?

If you’re speaking to experts and elites in your industry, you need to have a very different way of writing compared to when you’re speaking to average consumers.

A concept of who your message is for will help you to focus your content on your target audience. The same goes when considering your subject matter because different audiences will have different concerns and interests, even within the same field.

A serious or more formal tone in some languages will require the use of different pronouns. You might end up needing to use your passive voice in a more formal setting. Your active voice is appropriate for a natural and straightforward conversational tone.

Think carefully about the audience before you make any translation decisions.

2. Think About Publishing

In the end, your translated website will be distributed through several different channels.

Some sites have cloned versions of themselves for different countries while others will live on a single content management site. When users visit, they’ll select the language they’re looking for from some type of menu.

When you’re seeking out a design company to work with, ask about whether or not their solutions vibe with the way that you work. If you like to have everything in one place or if you need your site hosted in the country you’re targeting, they need to be able to assist with that.

The benefit of hosting in your target country is that you’ll end up with a higher SEO ranking in that country.

Set your requirements before you get started on your translation project. Budgets can be tight, and if you don’t know how or where you want your site to be hosted, you could end up duplicating work or paying extra to cover the changes.

If you’re running ads in other countries using ad space targeting other local audiences, you should definitely have your site hosted outside of your home country.

3. Proofreading is Essential

It cannot be stressed enough how important proofreading is. Not only should your text be checked for grammatical or syntax errors, but your images and videos need to be checked out as well. Everything on your translated site needs to be culturally relevant to the localized audience that you’re targeting.

Have proofreading contacts who are familiar with cultural norms or who are local to the region you’re targeting. You need to have eyes that know what to look for. If absolutely necessary, find contacts through well-known freelancing sites.

Your layout and consistency should make sense as well. If you’re using any bold or italicized words, double-check that their placement makes sense. Your links could be emphasizing the wrong text if you don’t fully understand the language that you’ve translated into.

Having another, local set of eyes on things is the way to be sure you don’t make any mistakes that could hurt engagement with your content.

4. Create a Glossary

A glossary and style guide are your best tools for ensuring that you’re always using the terminology that’s appropriate for the subject matter. You also need to be ensuring that the tone you use is consistent throughout all of your translation projects.

A terminology glossary can help new hires and even interested clients understand what specific terms mean, especially in a localized context.

Create a terminology glossary that has an adequate number of definitions, uses of terms in context, and explanation of terms that help readers. If you have particular brand names and slogans you find yourself using over and over, be sure they’re well defined for everyone.

When it comes to using industry-specific jargon, you need to ensure that everyone is on the same page with them and their abbreviations.

5. Make Deadlines Clear

The turnaround for your translation requires that your translators and editors are available when you need them.

Some language combinations are harder than others, so you may need to allow time to find the right candidates. If the text you’re translating is long and complicated, that can make things significantly more difficult.

Overall, if you have a deadline that you need to hit, you need to start calling translation providers far in advance to ensure you get confirmation from the people you’re looking to work with.

Leave time to review content and padding for a feedback cycle, as it’s rare that everything looks perfect the first time around.

The Best Way To Translate a Website Might Be Hard

The best way to do anything is rarely the easiest way to do it. If you’re not trying to find the best way to translate a website, you’re not giving your foreign clients the attention and care that they deserve.

If you’re doing work in foreign countries, check out our guide to help your HR professionals do the work they need to do to prepare.

Also, take advantage of technology like our CMS Connect plugin that streamlines and automates the entire process of website and digital content translation.

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