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Website translation: 7 best practice lessons

By Josian Phillips, 

Find out how to plan, execute and manage your successful website translation project. These seven simple steps will make the world of difference when it comes to making your website work wonders for your international market penetration and business growth.

1. Plan, plan, plan

Preparation is key for your website translation project. Fail to plan, and your project can quickly run away from you.

We covered the key points on planning in our September blog, Top tips on how to prepare for website translation, when we looked at business, technology and website localisation strategies, as well as people and stakeholder management. 

A robust website translation plan will make sure that your website is ready to go global from both a technical and functional perspective. After all, what’s the point in arranging fantastic website translation and localisation if your website’s architecture can’t handle multiple languages and conventions or it’s so SEO poor that nobody can find it?

In the last 10 years, according to research from Byte Level, leading global brands have doubled the number of languages they support on their websites – today they support an average of 30 languages. The vast majority of corporate websites, however, still support fewer than 10 languages.

If you haven’t already created a glossary and language style guide, you should, and don’t hesitate to  ask your translation services partner with help doing this. Glossary and language style guides are invaluable sources of information to help translators conform with your brand guidelines throughout the localisation process.

When it comes to planning your global website template, make sure you consider both the cultural and practical aspects surrounding imagery, colour, graphics and file formatting/source files. For example, some designs may offend some cultures. 

For SEO optimisation, keep your URL planning simple so they identify:

  • The main website where the content lives
  • The site’s language
  • The content’s purpose/site location
  • The content’s target audience

2. Set goals and identify technical requirements

Once your planning is underway, you’ll need to choose a translation services partner that suits your business goals. Be clear about what you want and when you want it. Find out if your prospective partner has any specialisms that you require, whether that’s for technical translation services, a specific language or key technical support.

You’ll then want to set up a discovery session in order to define your project objectives and so that your translation services partner can understand your requirements. Expect the agency to come back with some questions, such as:

  • Do you have a website localisation strategy?
  • Do you plan to add more languages in the future?
  • Do you have a multilingual SEO strategy?
  • Is your content management system (CMS) global ready?

They’ll also want to know about your resources, technologies, workflows, linguist assets and, of course, the content.

3. Pinpoint content for translation

Conduct a content audit so you can work out which content requires translating. Prioritise that content for localisation, then work out how best to transfer the files to your translation services agency. This could be through CMS integration, translation proxy or traditional file transfer. We recommend you discuss this with your translation partner to see what works best for you both.

4. Project kick-off

Once your project is agreed by key stakeholders and signed off, you can get started. Make sure you have the right people in the right places. Set up a team kick-off meeting so you can share your plans and clearly explain objectives, ownership and timelines. Outline key processes, such as how the project will work with in-country reviewers when they have queries. Cover brand and style guides.

5. Website translation and localisation

Make sure your translation agency has everything they need for successful website translation. They’ll want all the relevant files, assets, reference materials and detailed instructions on what’s required.

Since you’ve read this far, you’ll already know that a successful website translation goes beyond simple translation. It also requires localisation. And for the best localisations, translators are using sophisticated translation memory systems (TMS) to support the human part of the process.

6. Quality check

To make sure you get a great quality translation, you’ll need to set up a review process for sign-off. While it should be thorough, make sure this process is as simple as possible, so you avoid risking your project schedule and market commitments. You should establish this process at the planning stage and share at your kick-off meeting.

7. Go-live and follow-up

Once the translations have been published and the website has gone live, you should still expect your translation service partner to tidy up. This means updating and archiving files and assets so it’s easy for them – or for you – to update site content and prepare for your next localisation project.

For a chat or free advice on your website translation project, call us on 01225 580 770 or complete this online form. We’re here to help.


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