To reach foreign customers in the global marketplace with sustainable product and marketing content delivery, your website will be one of the first items on your localization agenda. Under the weight of national legislation, local preferences, cultural specifics, as well the continuous need for product and security updates, implementing a multilingual website can be quite an endeavor in itself. To ensure the best result possible, this article will walk you through all the steps and tools needed for streamlining the localization of your website.
Where to start with a multilingual website?
Website localization can be implemented with varying degrees of quality. Automatic translation plugins or machine translation applications might seem tempting at first sight with their low cost and maintenance. Nevertheless, they can turn out quite harmful to your business in the long run. That is why this article will focus on the better way of getting your website globally adapted: website localization with a translation management platform.
Before you set off, you need to ask yourself two essential questions. First, you need to be clear about whether or not you want to launch your website in its entirety in the chosen languages. Second, you will want to decide whether these varying language versions should be launched only in your domestic market, or if they should also apply to foreign markets. As soon as you have your strategy in place, you can go ahead with setting up your localization process.
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What kind of multilingual websites are there?
Within national borders, there might be a single official language established. If your website is available only in the official language, it may not necessarily lead to potential customers buying from it. The reasons for this are manifold, but essentially come down in the end to letting your target audience trust you and your product. Not everyone living in your domestic market might be fluent in the official language, but still could be highly interested in what you offer. This situation creates a serious gap in which your sales and revenue plummet just because you have not supplied all the necessary information in the specific locale.
On a global level, this may not be your case. You simply may be interested in serving the global community and selling your product in foreign markets as well. To get the ball rolling, you would first localize your website in the locales spoken in your target markets. At a later stage, you may decide on creating a subsidiary or regional office, which, in turn, would require a different approach to updating your website with the regional versions needed. For now, we’ll keep it straight and talk about how to prepare your content for website localization.
How to make content ready for multilingual websites?
The first step to ensuring a successful localization effort is the internationalization of your website content. This technical process is best implemented at the outset of your overall product and content development cycle to guarantee smooth sailing later on. When done properly, internationalization should result in every text chunk being translatable by catering for enough space for varying character and space requirements in different locales; correct numeric, time, and date formatting; left-to-right text orientation, etc. In the end, your content will be adjusted in style, format, tone of voice, and layout to be easily translated and cause no bugs, design breaks, or other mishaps on the specific language version of your website.
When it comes to content itself, you should conduct a keyword analysis for each target country and provide guidelines to local search engine optimization (SEO) and other cultural specifics beforehand. This would extend to preparing a glossary that is brand, product, and industry-specific, containing all the necessary information on preferred terminology choices. You should also list any character limitations, best practice phrases for CTA buttons, and anything else that requires action from your website visitors. Providing all this documentation allows for localized content that is culturally accepted, legally compliant, and SEO friendly. In the end, it should lead to a seamless user experience and higher conversion rates.
How to put together a strong localization team?
In-house or outsourced localization? Many website owners are often indecisive about forming a qualified team for in-house localization or choosing an external localization partner – a language service provider (LSP). If you go for the latter, you should consider different supplier candidates, and closely evaluate their client success stories, case studies, project management experience, as well as the software they use. Compare your findings with localization projects of similar size and consider your time-cost-ratio before making a final decision.
Well-established LSPs have a varied, qualified translator pool, and skilled translation and localization project managers. They usually base their process on human translation and use machine translation only to speed up the overall process (e.g., recognize repetitions) and ensure consistency throughout the translation. If you prefer direct communication with the translators, then you should look into LSPs working with SaaS platforms for localization management, as most of them make use of the latest software in their workflows.
In any case, your website localization project needs a dedicated translation or localization project manager. You can even appoint one of your product managers who would also oversee all localization efforts and work closely with all stakeholders, including decision-makers. She or he would handle all tasks, from doing research and writing briefs, to facilitating cross-team communication and inquiring updates from product management, to creating a budget and monitoring budgetary as well as quality requirements for a successful outcome.
What are the benefits of using a localization management platform?
While you might already have a stable content management system, it might not necessarily make your localization process easier if you intend to run a multilingual website. Localization management is a complex process involving dozens of actors and a great deal of reporting and tracking, which a localization management tool can greatly facilitate. If you are not using any SaaS solution for localization management, now is the time to look into it specifically, and leverage it within your workflow from the very outset.
Modern localization management platforms are based in the cloud and come with numerous features to streamline your translation, proofreading, and revision workflow. One of their biggest advantages is that they let you translate your pages in real time and provide your translators with context by attaching dedicated screenshots. In the long run, this will save you a huge amount of time you would otherwise spend on sending emails back and forth, and cater for increased translation quality and consistency without crippling your budget.
Phrase is a great example of a state-of-the-art localization management platform. Made with the whole team in mind, it makes it easy to collaborate with a large team of translators, developers, designers, and product managers, all on one common interface. As a highly-scalable solution that keeps it simple, Phrase automates time-consuming, manual translations, accelerates regionalization, and thereby makes websites and other types of software available more quickly to more people worldwide.
What other stakeholders are involved in the localization process?
Developers and other company departments (e.g., legal, quality assurance, finance, etc.) play a vital role for a smooth localization process. Each and every one must give their own input when creating guidelines and other documentation for your internal translators or the LSP. Therefore, it is recommended to involve all of them right from the start, providing all the crucial information on which languages and countries you will be targeting specifically with your multilingual website:
- Your engineering team adapts your source text during the internationalization phase. Developers need to prepare text strings for translation, take care of character limitations and remove potential pieces of hard-coded text that needs translation.
- Your legal department needs to provide information on requirements, terms and conditions, or data policies that are relevant for a particular target country.
- Your financial department needs to do an analysis on return on investment for localization and determine a budget as well as an optimal time for your multilingual website’s launch to meet stakeholder or board requirements.
How to maintain the translation quality of a multilingual website?
As soon as you have all your content translated, it is time to do a final translation quality review before your multilingual website goes live. Most language service providers recommend a two-step or three-step content translation process. In other words, they would usually treat translation and proofreading as separate steps, i.e. two different human translators will handle each of these tasks separately. In a three-step process, they would also include independent revision or have their own quality assurance procedures in place.
Reviewers should go through all briefs and project documentation to stay in the know in regards to terminology, preferred style and register, as well as established glossary terms unique to your business. Whenever mistranslations are detected, they should always update the glossary in your localization management platform to make sure that everyone involved knows the right terminology meaning and correct use. This is the greatest guarantee of your glossary and translation memory serving as a quality base for any future translation projects.
Finally, you can also lean on a ISO certified LSP for translation quality. Keep an eye out for ISO 9001, which stands for high-quality management, but specifically for ISO 17100, which has been established for the translation industry. There are more ISO certificates that are relevant for the industry, but these two combined are good indicators for the overall quality you can expect from your language service provider. Once the review process is completed, it is only a matter of a few clicks until your updated multilingual website sees the light.
Guest post by the Phrase Content Team