Translating websites

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different languages all saying hello

Occasionally, our clients are interested in offering their website in multiple languages. As a result, we  signed up to a  recent talk by Pauline Eloi for Clever Boxer. Here are some of our notes from that talk combined with our own observations on how some of our own clients have managed the situation.

In Pauline’s introduction, she pointed out translation provides exposure for your brand, allowing you to speak directly to a segment of your audience.

She warned that a bad translation can harm the credibility and authority of your brand giving examples where online automated translation services can lead to embarrassing results.

Pauline split the available solutions into agencies, freelance translators, in-house translation and hybrid solutions and created a list of questions to ask yourself in order to determine which service was best for you. Questions included:

  • How many languages?
  • How many words and by when?
  • How often will you need copy translated?
  • How involved do you wish to be with the translation?
  • Is there a degree of specialism?
  • What is your budget?

Agencies are ideal when you need your website translated to multiple languages, Freelancers when specialist knowledge might be required occasionally and in house ideal for quick turn around and consistency.

Pauline introduced us to CAT tools – Computer Aided Translation which human translators may use to help with the process. SDL was the software she demonstrated. She showed how they can help with consistency particularly where content is repetitive

Although she didn’t suggest what a typical translation service might cost, she explained that level of specialism, urgency, number of repetitions can all effect the price. Prices can be set per word or per 1k words.  She pointed out that the daily output of a translator can be 1,500 to 3,500 words a day. Factor in that you should have the translations reviewed as well as a separate additional cost., the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, and Chartered Institute of Linguists are reputable places to start looking for a translator in addition to your contacts on LinkedIn and local translator associations.

Thinking back to our own clients and websites we have worked on, we are more experienced in providing ways for clients to manage translations on their website. For Span Arts we incorporated a special plug into WordPress to manage both the English and Welsh versions of copy for the site that works really well. With Cheek By Jowl, who perform across the globe and sometimes in foreign language such as Russian, they have chosen to create a few welcome translations with selected content in French, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Languages with different alphabets to our own, such as Russian, require a bit of extra coding to display the character set.