Some website translation technology features are indispensable to a robust localization program. However, they may be overlooked in the face of alternative options that are made to sound invaluable thanks to good marketing. To know what you need, you need to understand the unique challenges of website translation.
Websites are dynamic, ever-changing pieces of content. If you’re going to use website translation tools to help manage them, they need to be part of the architecture of your content program. Preview screens, translation memories, terminology management, file engineering, and quality assurance will all simplify your project.
5 of the Best Website Translation Features
All good website translation features are intrinsically tied to the content management architecture. Without the architecture in place, some options may not work as expected. Here are a few solutions to consider:
#1: Preview screens
Preview screens are excellent for many reasons. They help translators understand context, fix errors, and provide a good prediction of live text appearance. However, there are some limitations to this feature. If you’re creating content prior to staging the page, there won’t be anything to preview since the page doesn’t exist yet. You may also have security settings that restrict preview opportunities.
Of course, there are workarounds, but they don’t help in every scenario. That’s why it’s important not to become too dependent on preview screens and make sure you take advantage of other tools.
#2: Terminology management
You’ve likely spent thousands of dollars on your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to help you raise your website’s profile for specific key terms. However, straight word-for-word translation doesn’t take those terms into account. You may translate content into phrases that no one in your new market searches.
Terminology management is the process of mapping all your valuable content. The key phrases are tokenized and preserved across languages. That means you don’t have to recreate your SEO work for every market since it’s already part of the system.
#3: Translation memories
Websites face constant changes; translation memories monitor and save them for future use. They keep track of updates you’ve made to terminology and apply them going forward. These often work in conjunction with machine translation, where the linguist will receive suggestions based on how similar content appeared in the past.
This process keeps you from reinventing the wheel every time there’s a minor update to your site. It helps you stay on top of translation and consistently update results. Ideally, this translation memory will be fully portable to use for other jobs if you change platforms.
#4: File engineering strategies
Any program you use for translation should support file engineering. Translation can wreak havoc on code, as content is often treated as stand-alone strings. Insufficient text boxes may cut off sentences, and punctuation may incorrectly translate as code or vice versa. This can all damage the user experience on the website.
A good editing program will streamline this and ensure code markers remain intact, including checking for accurate use of variables and comments. That information will transition over to the editor, so linguists understand what requires translation and what is an essential part of code. This editor can provide a powerful productivity edge by eliminating errors and ensuring transparency across projects.
#5: Robust QA checks
The quality assurance (QA) process should be part of the localization management platform to allow every pertinent party to review results and understand changes. They can check for missing tags or inconsistent glossary terms and verify their correction. This program also provides feedback to linguists to certify they understand changes and adjust for them in future work.
Often Overrated Features
Many companies seeking website translation technology will face a barrage of advertising around features that sound appealing at first glance but aren’t as valuable as initially implied. Three of the most common include:
- Proxy services: Proxy services aren’t translation; they’re masks that go over content. Businesses rely on them because they’re cost-effective and easy-to-use, but they don’t understand the long-term impact. With proxy services, there’s no translation memory, terminology management, or SEO component. Content is translated word for word and delivered via temporary URLs. This prevents the development of a long-term strategy and can be damaging to SEO results.
- Machine translation: Machine translation is a useful tool unless you choose to rely on it alone. Some of the better programs have accuracy rates that go as high as 90%. However, it’s in that 10% where the problems lie. Machine translation could change text intent, making it nonsensical or even offensive. It should be treated as a supplementary tool, not a stand-alone service for managing website localization.
- Segmented programs: Programs that separate all project needs into different components are often touted as a benefit due to their customizability. You can use a business management tool from one company, a computer-aided translation tool from another, and a project management program from a third. However, this creates a segmentation that makes it hard to support content automation or run reports that give you factual information on program viability. It’s far better to choose a platform that incorporates all those solutions within a single space.
Website translation technology should be the backbone of your localization program and not a quick-fix solution. By choosing options that can be built into your content management system architecture, you can create a resilient program that streamlines entry into new markets.