Building a Multilingual Web Presence: Tips for Website Localization Services

multilingual translation services

Over 5 billion people use the internet daily, perusing web pages and making transitions. If your website is in one language, you might only reach about a quarter of those people, leaving people in your target markets out. But creating a generally translated version of your site in a target language may not have the impact you want. To truly resonate with your audience, you need to create website localization for international markets. Let’s go deeper in website translation and localization.

What is Website Localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to meet the needs of people from a particular region, area, or market. Website localization is the process of adaptation for your website to provide a cohesive experience for local audiences in every target market. Website localization touches on your website’s visuals, design, language, and code.

Localization is different than website translation. While website translation services deal with changing the written word on a website from the source to the target language, localization goes a step further and also considers how the design and code may need to change to adapt to specific locales to overcome language barriers and cultural gaps for audiences in multiple countries.

Website localization considers cultural differences or general preferences of each area or region, modifying the colors, images, text, videos, graphics, dates, units of measurement, numbers, and even emojis to resonate.

Why Do You Need Multilingual Websites?

The main goal of localizing your website is to make each audience or market feel like it was created specifically for them. One of the best ways of doing this is to speak the local language. When people feel seen or made special, they form a bond with someone or something, like a brand. People are slow to warm up to brands but quick to turn away, and a website may be one of their first points of contact with a brand. No matter how many languages someone speaks, customers still prefer to use a website in their native language. That’s why website translation services are so crucial for global business and international customers.

9 Best Practices to Maximize Localization Efforts

1. Internationalize your website

To internationalize a website, you prepare it for the application of localization. If you’re planning for website localization from the start of your website project, internationalization from the start will save you time down the road. If you’re creating localized versions of your website after the build, work with your professional translator on identifying the internal parts of your website that will need to be internationalized to maximize the impact of your website localization project.

2. Know your audience

If you don’t know your target market audience, you won’t know who to localize for. Localize for your current audiences, and where you have the most potential to grow to maximize the reach and impact of website translation services.

3. Design with multiple languages in mind

In translation projects, text expansion is expected – an English-to-French translation expand by as much as 20%. Design with multiple languages in mind to structure text fields to accommodate larger text sizes or fields during the localization process.

Translated content in other languages like Chinese may not be longer, but the text will be structured differently and displayed at a larger font size. Planning for varying text sizes for multilingual websites in the design means you don’t have to return to the drawing board during website localization.

4. Know your code

Some websites have hard-coded strings and translatable text written into your website code. Hard-coded strings take much longer to localize because each string must be manually exported, re-written for each version, and imported again. On other websites, developers use tokens to code, which use an external resource for the strings, making the entire translation service process more manageable from the start. These tokens can also be used for the date, time, currency, and unit of measurement for each site.

5. Keep text and images separate

Don’t create images with text overlaid, as these are challenging for your translator to work with. If the text and images are kept separately, your translators can move through the files quicker, and your designs don’t need to create a new version of the image for every website.

6. Don’t complicate your images

If you must have text over graphics, such as in a screenshot or a gif, you must include a language-local file for each. If this is the case, make these images uniform across every version – the same resolution, pixels, and content. Make these files readily available so they can be edited as needed.

Similarly, try to pick images that appeal to a global audience from the start so you don’t have to create many language-local files. Consider diversity in the people in your images as well as cultural norms, especially surrounding colors in your website localization strategy.

7. Make switching languages easy and clear

Don’t assume to know what language people need on a multilingual website- give them options. With localization, you can give users the option to choose what language they prefer and what dialect. Customers can select between British English and Australian or European French and Canadian French.

Make the language switcher easy to locate. If your design allows you to place it at the top and bottom of pages, it will be easy to find.
Do not use flags as an indication of languages. Flags determine countries, not languages. Many developers and designers use flags since they add color, but using flags is not a good localization practice. You want to be inclusive and respectful of the countries that speak the language and are not represented by it unless your language is localized for that country. If your Spanish Translation is for Spain is proper to use that flag but if it is for general Spanish or Latin America, that will be the wrong choice.

8. Localize outside of the language

Website localization is about more than just linguistics – it’s a comprehensive process that creates a natural experience with your brand for people everywhere in the world. Multilingual websites need to consider all of the differences between different countries.

Local payment processing methods are nearly as important as the language – customers won’t buy with you if they can’t do it easily. This also includes audio and video elements. If you have a video with a voiceover or a narrator on your website, that will need to be localized.

9. Don’t forget SEO

Search engine rankings in one language do not inherently carry over to a translated or localized version. The top 5 results on Google get nearly 70% of the clicks, so ranking well is essential for driving organic traffic. If your website is multi-lingual, your SEO strategy must also be multilingual. You can even find you rank better in the search engines for other languages than for competitive keywords in English!

10. Do not mix Languages

It is confusing and distracting to users to leave pages with a mix of languages. For example, a video in English within the page’s content in Spanish. Translating all the elements of a page show respect for your clients.

Benefits of Working with a Professional Translation Company

The size and expertise of the translation team at language service providers mean companies can tackle large projects with workable turnaround times.

If you bring in a translation team for localization from the start of your website translation project, you also benefit from continuous localization. Continuous localization allows you to simultaneously prepare localized versions of your website as your build the source one, which allows you to move into multiple markets faster.

Your translation team may also recommend a content management platform that works well for localization. Some features that make a platform more localization friendly include: automated content distribution, status tracking, and quality controls, along with toggling control access for users, multimedia content support, and pivot language support.

When Do You Need Website Translation Services?

  • Entering new markets
  • Improve user experience
  • Improve user satisfaction
  • Build customer loyalty
  • Increase conversions
  • Gain an edge over competitors
  • Better online visibility
  • Reach new markets and increase your revenue

How to Make a Website Translation Project Run Smoothly

Plan for Translation while designing the website. The ideal website translation projects are the ones planned when the website is designed. That is not always known at that point, but if there is a chance that your website will be multilingual, website designing is the moment to follow best practices to facilitate website translation services. From selecting the CMS to the website URL and structure of the site, including white space and the nomenclature to follow for the languages.

Have a glossary of terms. A glossary is a document that includes all the specialized terms, phrases, and words used in your business. These could be standard abbreviations, specialized terminology – anything that falls outside of ordinary jargon regarding your business. Once created, your translation team will create a translated version. This document will serve as the basis of the website translation, cutting down on back-and-forth questions.

Send over the final version. Whether you’re building a website from the ground up or localizing an existing one, make sure your translator has the final version of all the necessary files, getting approval from the necessary stakeholders on your team before sending it over. This saves time as your translator doesn’t need to work in multiple file versions, which saves you money.

Designate a point person. While website localization doesn’t have to be a long process, it also doesn’t happen overnight. By designating a point person on your team to oversee the project and communicate with the language service provider, you can streamline the communication process, which saves you time (and money.)

Localizing your website doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Working with a translation services company makes the process run smoothly without adding extra work for your team. At JR Language, we go the extra mile to exceed your expectations at affordable prices with workable turnaround times, keeping you informed every step of the way. Contact us for a quote today— we’d love to hear from you.

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