Bad Website Translations — Why Even Bother?

Yappn
Yappn
Nov 22, 2016 · 5 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Wudjoo say?

“We don’t care.” That’s what North America’s bad website translations mean when you click on the language widget and it offers a semi-literate result. The message your website sends when half the page isn’t translated and the other half sounds like it was written by Latka Gravas (Remember him? The pidgin-English-speaking foreign character of unknown ethnic origin on the old TV show Taxi?) is that it’s ‘good enough’.

“Hey, I know, let’s throw a couple of other languages on the website and see if we get any new business. Don’t put any marketing money into it; just install a plug-in.”

Image for post
Image for post

Widgets and other bad translators famously don’t catch everything. In fact, almost no translation solution apart from humans, which is your most expensive option, produces a perfect solution, especially if you want to translate into multiple languages. That’s what seems so great about plug-in widgets except all you’re doing is insulting people in many different languages.

That’s assuming they ever find your site, since people everywhere prefer to shop in their primary language. So if you sell women’s clothing in a region with a high number of Spanish immigrants, they’re not going to look for pleated skirts, they’re going to look for faldas plisadas.

So, even if you offer faldas plisadas, are they going to find your website if the SEO hasn’t been optimized for Spanish keywords?

Image for post
Image for post
¿Ves tu web aquí?

What you may not know about your visitors (or non-visitors):

  • 65% of online users natively speak a language other than English

Source: Common Sense Advisory

So what does it look like when your website translation misses items in the menu bar, the graphics, and on occasion, most of the website?

Image for post
Image for post
That’s Cumbre de Canadá, por favor

Bad website translations that look sloppy demonstrate how little the company values its non-English-speaking potential clientele. It tells them that even if they can muddle their way through adding their desired purchases to the shopping cart, they’ll probably encounter straight English during check-out and if they need to return an item or require any other help, they’ll probably have to deal with an English-only customer support specialist.

You don’t have to invest in a United Nations of multilingual resources, translation, support people and logistics suppliers to attract, retain and grow your foreign language-speaking potential customers but you do need to put a little more thought into it than just customary bad website translations.

Image for post
Image for post
C’est Français? Vraiment?

Yappn uses Enhanced Machine Translation, also called Hybrid Machine Translation, for greater accuracy by utilizing several different translators and then applying our own rules and customer-designed lexicons so that when you find an English word on a foreign language website, you meant for it to remain untranslated (i.e., Dr. Pepper does not become Dr. Poivre or Dr. Pimienta.) We also provide real-time multilingual live chat translation so that your customers can get help if your product has caused them intergalactic distress.

Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post

As always, nothing beats a good post-editing by a human who actually speaks the language, but with enhanced machine translation that takes less time and effort than running your entire website through a translation widget.

With a little planning for budget and strategy, you can provide a much richer, more respectful multilingual experience for your prospective non-English-speaking customers and without a long implementation time either.

You don’t have to settle for bad website translations or even worse, translations that fail to execute at all, leaving the visitor to wonder why they’ve chosen Latvian but are still seeing English. The quick solution, of course, is to start over again and find a website that actually cares about your experience and demonstrates some real respect.

Remember that the foreign visitors aren’t always in other countries. Many of them are right here, visiting your competitors’ websites if they offer more than bad website translations and non-existent customer care.

This post originally appeared on the Yappn blog Yappn About.

Yappn Corp offers translations in 67 different languages and when you choose Latvian, you get Latvian. For more information please contact sales@yappn.com or call us at +1.905.763.3510 x246.

Never miss out on another Yappn blog post! We love language, translation, and the cool machine translation technology driving it. Not to mention eCommerce, Asian growth, and how we’re all learning to communicate better with each other. Sign up for our new post email notifications today!

Written by Nicole Chardenet, Sales Development Rep at Yappn.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store