Translated from the original 5 sencillos pasos para traducir tu web, by Ashley Piekarski
Did you know that 56.2% of consumers give more importance to being able to read information in their own language than to the price of a product or service, and that 75%, in fact, do not make a purchase decision if the information isn’t available in their language? (Common Sense Advisory).
If you’re thinking of expanding your horizons and want to start attracting clients from other countries you’ve already realized that, first of all, you need to communicate with them somehow.
And that means translating your website.
I am not going to talk to you about the technical aspects involved in creating a multilingual website because I am not an expert on the topic, and apart from that I think it would be enough subject matter for 2 or 3 articles more. I do, however, want to talk to you about how to adapt to your content to better connect with your foreign audience.
Translating your website will not only help you gain more visibility in the foreign market you seek, but also increase likeliness of purchase since, according to the study I mentioned earlier, a majority of customers prefer purchasing on sites they can read in their own language because they trust them more.
Surely, many questions spring to mind about how to do it or where to start. Because of this, I’d like to make it very easy for you by laying out these 5 steps below:
- 1 1. CHOOSE THE LANGUAGES
- 2 2. DECIDE WHAT WEB PAGES YOU WANT TO SHOW YOUR NEW AUDIENCE
- 3 3. DEFINE HOW TO ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR POTENTIAL FOREIGN CUSTOMERS
- 4 4. TRANSLATING AND LOCALIZING CONTENT FOR YOUR WEBSITE
- 5 5. BE CAREFUL WITH IMAGES AND GRAPHIC ELEMENTS ON YOUR WEBSITE
- 6 FINALLY, LAUNCH YOUR WEBSITE!
1. CHOOSE THE LANGUAGES
But choose wisely, don’t let pure inertia launch you straight to one language or another.
Decide which countries you want to enter the market, and depending on the languages spoken in those countries, you will know what is most suitable for your new multilingual website.
To further define, keep the geographical variant of the language you’ve chosen in mind, i.e. If you want to attract customers from Spain for example, European variants of Spanish should take precedence over American ones.
There are significant differences between one and the other, something you will have seen with your native language. Another example, the difference between how those from the United States, the UK, and Australia differ when expressing themselves. English speakers, it’s not the same, right?
Choose the most suitable variant for your new target audience, and make sure to maintain consistency in all of your content.
Say you don’t care much where your new customers come from (Spain, Mexico, the Dominican Republic or anywhere else) because you simply want to have the website in Spanish, try to use a neutral style.
But remember, always maintain consistency, use the style you use.
2. DECIDE WHAT WEB PAGES YOU WANT TO SHOW YOUR NEW AUDIENCE
You don’t need to have each and every one of your current web pages translated.
At least not at the beginning, because it will depend on the objectives you set for your new multilingual website (gain more visibility and traffic?, get leads?, or generate more sales?) and the visibility level you have already.
If you’re world famous, you should have no problem selling starting the first day your new website is up.
But as I doubt it is your case, and given you’re just getting your feet wet in an overseas market, it’s most likely that your odds of receiving immediate sales are very low because no one (or almost no one) purchases on their first visit or first contact with a company.
Your objective, then, is to gain visibility, which is why it’s not worth “going through it with a fine tooth comb” at the very beginning. Translating is an investment that should end up being profitable, and jumping off by translating all of the products in your catalog or all of your blog articles at once can be like killing a mosquito by cannon balls, especially if in the end the market doesn’t respond as expected.
Try little by little.
You can start with the most basic and essential pages, in other words, your home page, about page, services page, and contact page. As if it were an initial “tasting” for your potential customers, or your cover letter.
Don’t worry if you have concerns about which pages to choose. You can always make changes later, add pages, modify or remove others, etc.
Remember the first time you launched your website, it also wasn’t the final version.
In fact, it’s normal to later need to make tweaks and changes to optimize based on tracking and results.
Web pages can (and should) constantly be evolving to ensure they are always well aligned with the proposed objectives for your company, as well as a good user experience. The translated version of your website is no exception to this rule.
So, decide what you want to achieve with the translated version of your website, what is its mission? What steps do you want to give the new user when they arrive to your page? Based on that, choose the pages you want to translate and define a navigation itinerary so that the user meets the objective that you’ve proposed.
3. DEFINE HOW TO ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR POTENTIAL FOREIGN CUSTOMERS
What do want to get from your new user? subscribe to your newsletter?, request a quote?, fill out a form?
How are you going to build a relationship with your new potential customers so that, eventually, they end up buying on your page?
If you want to obtain data from site visits, to later maintain contact, you need to adapt your subscription forms, as well as the sequence of automatic emails that will be received upon subscribing or completing other forms you’ve prepared.
If you also want to offer free content to increase your conversion rate of visits, you will need to translate the content already offered on your original website or create something new for the situation.
To summarize: select elements (forms and free content) that you’ll need to establish a relationship with your new audience, that leads them (over time) to become your customers.
4. TRANSLATING AND LOCALIZING CONTENT FOR YOUR WEBSITE
If you’re sure of the language, pages and elements you need on your multilingual website you can now start to translate your website.
But, beware! Given you are targeting a new culture, you can not limit yourself to translating, you must also localize it.
If you’re not very familiar with the term, we use “localize” to describe the process of adapting and manufacturing a product so it has the look and feel of an article manufactured in a particular country (definition from LISA Localization Industry Standards Association) i.e., in your case, you have to adapt your content so it’s an appropriate fit for the new culture you are speaking to.
Normally the term “localize” is associated more with applications or software products, but in the case of your web content, I mean that you can’t merely translate the words of your text, but also must adapt your message in such a way that doesn’t seem strange to your potential clients. It has to be as natural for them as the original is for its corresponding recipients.
For example, if you express amounts in Dollars, you will need to convert to local currency (Pesos, Euros, etc.) or, if on your contact page you indicate a phone number, you will have to add the international prefix. It’s even a good idea to add a Skype account to make communication easier and more affordable.
Also, don’t forget to adapt local and cultural references or information that only makes sense to the original audience.
For example, if one of your articles is about sports and you refer to local talent, you will need to do something with this reference because it is unlikely that your new readers will understand if they do not know who the player is.
So, if you do not want your readers to turn a deaf ear, in the translated version you have to either explain who the person you are eluding to is, or substitute the mention with another figure in the new culture equivalent both in fame and character.
And the same thing has to happen with all of this type of information you have on your website or in your blog articles.
To ensure that the adaptation is correct, the best thing to do is seek the help of a professional translator and, if possible, their native language should be that which your website is to be translated to.
They will suggest the best options for you, so your translated message is understood as well as the original, and the content is correct and is expressed in a natural way.
5. BE CAREFUL WITH IMAGES AND GRAPHIC ELEMENTS ON YOUR WEBSITE
If you have infographics or images with text, you will need to edit them and also translate their content. Otherwise, users who come to your website won’t understand them, and they won’t serve any purpose.
Another important detail related to the graphic elements on your website is the difference in meaning that a symbol in one culture may have with respect to another. You could really mess up if they are complete opposites to one another, for example, like a thumbs up icon. In the United States and in many European countries it is a good thing, but in some countries of Latin America and the Middle East it is very offensive.
And the OK sign, in some countries indicates approval (in the United States, as you know) in other countries is an insult (in France, Germany and Greece). For me, for example, the times I’ve used it was to indicate that my meal was delicious or that something that someone had said to me seemed perfect.
In short, maybe by using this symbol you are trying to say “Great quality!” and maybe the user understands “dumba*!”
Best not to play around with these things.
Make sure that your icons, images and other graphic elements do not come into conflict with the new culture you want to speak to, and, if so, change them or delete them.
Your translator will also help you a lot with these details and is the best one to advise and inform you on how your website content will be interpreted.
FINALLY, LAUNCH YOUR WEBSITE!
Once you have everything ready and revised, add the translated website to your current website (this now becomes a task for your designers) and let the international client building begin!