Website translation is always a tough area for marketing departments. We are regularly asked what the best process is for web site translation. If you maintain an English site with a large number of pages and content that continually changes – how do we manage the cost of translation?
There are a number of different best practices to address this business challenge.
Use a Content Management System:
If you don’t have a budget constraint the most effective method is to use a Content Management System (CMS). Choose one that can handle multiple languages and can support regular updates. Remember you don’t have to translate all your site now. You can spread your budget over a period of time. This way you can deliver the right content to the correct target market over time.
Translate Only The Key Pages:
You could just translate the most important pages only. It is worth getting your web designer to review what the most popular pages on your website are. Then just translate these. You may find your visitors focus on one particular area on your site. So you can decide the most important pages to translate first. This means you can manage your budget down to the page level and maximise your ROI.
Be careful when looking at the numbers as you may find that your ‘News’ pages are high on the list. However they will change very often, and probably have a lot of content. So this might be a section you do not need to translate.
The result of this method is that you get a site where the key content is translated, is very cost effective and delivers results. The only downside is that from a customers view they will see some English content. You need to decide if this is acceptable to your customers.
Develop a Microsite:
The alternative is to develop a Microsite in the target languages. In this scenario you take the most important pages from your site analysis and produce a new site with ONLY this content. This is a much smaller site and links directly from your main site. So when a user selects a new language they are taken to this microsite in their language.
The key advantage of this method is that the site is completely translated with the most relevant content. You do have a small amount of overhead in managing the microsite, but the main advantage is that it does not have to be updated as much. This delivers probably the biggest bang for the buck as they say in terms of marketing Euros dollars.
Translate One Language At A Time:
An area often overlooked is what languages to translate into. From a marketing point of view it makes sense to translate onlyÂ one language at a time, or possibly groups like French, German and Italian. The reason why is thats it is better to implement a marketing strategy one country at a time – to check the results with the site.
When you roll out a new site you want to make sure that…
1. It works correctly for the target market. Is the website working for foreign characters?
2. That your internal systems can handle the site feedback/client communication. Can you handle your new French and German customers at the same time?
3. That the site is delivering what you expected? Where you looking for calls, emails or direct sales enquiries?
Should we use Flags?
This is always an interesting one. It is generally recommended not to use flags to represent language on a website.
Language: When the site is in different langauges it is best to use text saying “French, German, English etc” so signify language. This way a person choosing English in the US, Ireland or UK only selects English. Flags can be policitally sensensitive, for example having a person in Southern Ireland clicking on a English flag for English text. the text label ‘English’ would be far more appropriate.
Country Site: For country specific sites it is OK to use flags. So if you have an office in the UK or US, then it is perfectly acceptable to have the US flag to signify the US site, and UK flag for the UK site.