5 Website Translation Mistakes you COULD HAVE avoided!

Originally posted at www.textunited.com/blog

We finally translated our website to German! How exciting! Now I’ll have to set up translated PPC campaigns, new social media accounts, marketing automation messages, chat invitations… Growing a business internationally couldn’t be easier, right? Well, before we get into that off there’s a few things about translating websites that have to be spoken out loud. Introducing :drum roll: …

5 things you won’t think of when translating your website

1. Word length measured in pixels.

Content on your website can be considered as marketing copy, SEO juice, unique value proposition, but also white space filler. Website text is therefore constrained within a layout-determined margin and most of the time it shouldn’t have a problem with scaling on varying screen sizes. You did in fact follow responsive web design principles, cause you know, mobile first!

As websites evolve over time we all seem to optimize layouts and copy specifically for our native language. Adding words longer or shorter (in pixels) can then destroy the beautiful design we had in mind by overlapping, line-breaking and so on. Just have a look at this beauty…

How to fix the problem? Inform your translators to try and keep as close to the paragraph lengths of source content as possible. We’re building a feature that will automatically measure word lengths and suggest them to translators for better vocabulary selection but for now real-time communications through the CAT tool are essential.

2. Incomplete or partial translations of the website.

This will inevitably happen if you either make a mistake by not translating everything in one batch or when your translation process doesn’t keep up with new content. You should however retain a birds-eye view of the situation and have a tool for that.

We continuously churn out new pages. A rather serious one, the About Us page didn’t get its translation yet. We pushed everything else to production and now our German site has this funny English page down in the footer. It’s actually not that big of a deal since we can hand pick which pages to translate, when to do it, and whether they should be in sync with the English version.

How to fix the problem? Text United is designed specifically to resolve this issue. It binds your website’s language versions to the source language, allows you to auto-translate selected content and forget about it. Doesn’t that just beat the hardcore logistics of content delivery to an agency that’s always late and never tells you how much you’ll pay?

3. No continuous translation strategy.

This is something that’s intuitively understood by companies and frankly it’s what makes them stray from translating their sites, even though they have budgets and international audiences. Continuous translation amounts to automatic version checks of changes in content and translating the differences on a schedule.

It’s a new concept pioneered by Text United, and a lucky few like yourself know about it so far. Thanks to continuous translation a company can continue (get it?) writing new content, optimizing their website, changing headings and CTAs, without the responsibility for translating the new stuff, throwing away the old translations, budgeting etc.

We translated, paid for it, and are rebuilding our Features page now, because we felt it was subprime and our visitors deserve better. Any change will be super expensive from now on, right? Not exactly — especially if you have a proper plan. It won’t be as easy as managing just one language but from a cost and operations standpoint it’s no biggie.

How to fix the problem? Use your website translation tech for a change… :)

You have a Translation Memory. Phrases you used previously will be matched to the ones you’ll use in your new copy iteration. This means that if you’re still the same person creating content, likely to use similar sentences, their translations will be substantially cheaper thanks to the TM. Check this translation budget template to see how much you can save. https://www.textunited.com/blog/how-to-budget-website-and-software-translation-free-template

You have control over website versions. Using Text United you DON’T HAVE TO exact-match the English version with the German version. Simply create a new English page, test it, promote it, but do not sync it with the German translation until you’re sure it’s worth it. This is a huge benefit that users of Proxy Translation technology will never have. Control over multilingual content isn’t something we’d likely give away.

4. Out-of-context translations and terminology all over the place.

A „state” is both a geopolitical region and a dimension like solid or liquid. Computers don’t yet have language intuition and sometimes they’ll serve translators phrases for translation that clearly miss the context. It’s a REALLY big issue. Especially if you’re using words like „table” which mean different things for carpenters and database engineers for international corporations.

Any copy on your website may work now, but it also may require updates in a month’s time. Our translator did the best he could however we had to clean it up a bit, checking phrase by phrase not through the translation editor but rather on the staging version of our site. We’re lucky we have linguists on the team who have full mastery over German, though for other languages we do plan on hiring proofreaders.

How to fix the problem? Before kicking off translation projects make sure you know your content inside out. Log into the CAT tool and comment phrases that require additional explanation. Hire a proofreader to work with your translator. Be sure to review the translation with someone before you use it in production. This will take some time but will help build both a terminology database and include in the Translation Memory quality content that will be reused in the future.

5. Making active use of the translated website.

Following-up to the intro of this entry, this is a bittersweet issue. On the one hand our new business acquisition opportunities have grown exponentially, we’re registering new visits from organic channels, we can expand our social presence and buy cheaper ads. We don’t however have available resources to do so just yet.

How to fix the problem? You know what the funny thing is? I even covered how to do this international website launch right here in this entry. Check it and you’ll see that launching internationally is just the start, however benefits are-a-plenty.

You will dread translating your website with a translation agency

We’re a Translation Management System provider that works for multi-million-dollar companies. We know how to optimize our costs, ensure quality, scale the process, include interested employees into the process, select translators etc. Still, we had to face quite a few issues when translating into A SINGLE language.

I don’t want to scare you there but if you’re a serious company you shouldn’t ever consider outsourcing the „problem” to a translation agency and just hope for the best. At the very least they should have experience with translating their own website. Besides that, our system is just 1 click away, so please go ahead and try it.

Have you tried it yet? Have you really?