The rise of online commerce in recent years has hurt physical businesses, but at the same time, more and more consumers come to the Internet to make their purchases. Companies that run their online businesses need to take into account the international reach of their products and services before ever, and this is where the localization comes in.
Website translation involves a lot more than simply working on the words on a page. This article analyzes the eight key factors that our experience has taught us to take into account to localize websites satisfactorily.
- Content management systems
Although you might think that the infrastructure of your site has nothing to do with translation, the truth is that it has to do. Language service providers are always looking for the most efficient and integrated way to manage web content, and do not need the customer to spend time copying and pasting content between different parts of the site.
Surely the partner you have chosen will ask about the content management system (CMS) in which your website is hosted. There are many ways to automate the export and import of content for translation, but it is important to discuss it with your provider since some CMS are more compatible than others for translation.
- The format of the files
The type of CMS influences the format of files in which the content is provided for translation. Some CMS allows you to export content in XML, HTML, PO, XLIFF, or other web-based formats, while plugins and connectors typically only work with XML.
One aspect that is worth highlighting is that it is possible to block any code so that neither translators nor proofreaders can remove important tags or links.
We recommend that you carry out an initial pseudo-translation test to verify that all translatable content is exported and that it can be processed with the TAO tool before importing it back to the site. To perform this test, you would have to send several test pages to your partner, who will replace the source text with a series of symbols and characters that will detect any possible problem.
- Static content and dynamic content
Our experience has shown that certain website content must be processed differently depending on the CMS used. For example, static content, such as navigation menus and contact forms, are often rigidly encoded in the system and are not easy to export. There are several ways to overcome this problem, including the manual handling of this type of content, which is usually of low volume, or in the case of contact forms, exported as PO files instead of XML.
- Online commerce
If your website allows your customers to make purchases, it will be necessary to localize much more than the words that appear on the page. The factors that influence a customer’s decision to make a purchase from abroad are, among others:
- Payment method
- Delivery options
- HTTPS (secure hypertext transfer protocol)
- ccTLD (geographic top-level domains)
- Local lodging
- Customer Reviews / Ratings
- International Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Images and other media
Images play a very important role on the Internet, and should also be considered part of the localization process.
All images containing text must be translated according to the target audience, so consider the translation when creating banners, advertisements, etc. The easier it is to extract the text from an image, the cheaper and faster the process will be.
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Having your international websites up and running is a great start, but you have to make sure they are visible on local search engines. Internet users may behave differently depending on their country of residence and their language.
If you are not sure about the best approach for your business, talk to your language service provider, or look for a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO that uses only native speakers for this work.
- Quality control online
You have followed the previous six steps, and your website is now ready for launch, but there is still one last step that we strongly recommend before launching the site: online quality control.
Ideally, quality control should be done at a provisional/trial site to ensure rectification of any cosmetic, functional, or linguistic problem before making it accessible to the public.
- Updates and maintenance
As we said before, it is important to consider how you will manage your site or multilingual sites. This is something that should be discussed as part of the initial scope of the project and not as an additive at the end.
Your translation company may suggest the best workflow for managing translation updates, but first, you should ask yourself several things:
- Will all products or services be available in all destination countries?
- How many products do you launch each year?
- Are products or services going to be updated in all regions at the same time?
- Will you launch new products or services in your national market first, gradually followed by foreign markets, or all at once?
- Do you also plan to localize the blog and news sections of your website?
- How often do you plan to publish new content?
Answering all these questions will allow you to work with your partner to create an optimal workflow for your website(s).
It is also important to devise the content reuse strategy that best suits your needs. This is especially important in updating websites, to shorten the deadlines and reduce costs in the long run.