Tips for a quality website translation

Translating your website is an excellent way to reach new markets. As the Harvard Business Review reports: “72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language”.

To engage with new audiences abroad, website translations should be highly accurate, a true representation of your brand (even in another language) and fit for purpose. After all, a past analysis of website figures shows a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half. There have been many companies who have fallen at this hurdle. Although not substantiated but also never denied by Pepsi, when translated for the Chinese market, their 1970s slogan ‘Come alive!’ promised ‘Pepsi brings back your ancestors’. Although very amusing, it is reported that this created a dip in sales, meaning on top of being very embarrassing it was also costly!

It may seem like a big project to embark on but with the help of a Language Service Provider (LSP), website translation doesn’t need to be stressful or complex. We’ve put together a few tips, below, to help you start off on the right track to ensure your website translation fulfils its intended purpose.

  1. Steer clear of machine translation

Machine translation may seem appealing due to the low cost, easy access and quick turnaround time but it has the potential to leave you regretting your decision (as Facebook found out). These services do provide translations that at times are accurate but they definitely will not produce a polished end result that you can present to prospects and clients. Please keep in mind it may be cheap but it could end up costing you in brand damage and lost sales.

  1. Start small

Carefully select your markets and research the appropriate languages for your chosen audience. It’s important that you have the time to dedicate to any new market you are entering, so consider starting with one language and build up from there, not forgetting to follow up on any new languages with suitable keywords and other SEO tools. It’s also worth remembering that some countries have a range of languages and that just because a language is an official one doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you.

  1. It’s not just the machines that can get it wrong

We’re all human and humans sometimes make mistakes. So if you choose a translator or translation agency to complete the work, it would be best practise to confirm they’re properly qualified before using their services. There are some key criteria that need to be considered when selecting a translator to make sure they have they necessary experience to translate your website.

  1. Work out your budget

When managing translations and the associated costs, you should also consider the changes and updates required for your website. E-commerce sites with an ever-changing offering of products for example may require additional translations on an on-going basis. This is generally going to mean your translation costs won’t stop even when the site is launched. Understanding what your future website changes may be and working with your translators to determine a budget for any on-going translation requirements will ensure you don’t have to cut corners and risk quality.

  1. Develop relevant content

What appeals to people in one country won’t necessarily appeal to those in another. While you always start with content for your website in your local market, when translating it you should consider the “new” local market you are targeting. You may have the best content for your current market, but if it isn’t localised to suit your new customers, they may not see the appeal of your product or service. Taking this additional step and using a qualified mother-tongue translator will ensure your translation efforts are worth your time and money.

If done correctly, website translation offers many more opportunities in new markets. We hope these tips will help you when setting out on your website translation journey. To discuss how our expert Project Managers and translators can manage your website translation project, and help streamline the process with our 25+ years of experience, give us a call on +44 1727 862722.


"As always, lightning quick on everything. Even faster than promised, in fact. Company policy forces me to seek out internal quotes, but I always end up choosing The Language Factory."

Associate Director Market Research Agency

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