Most businesses that come to us regarding multi language website translation fall into one of three categories:
- Large conglomerates that have already begun conducting business abroad and have a solution that they believe works for them.
- Smaller businesses that never even considered going beyond their local borders until their sales plateaued.
- Ambitious startups who want to hit every single market right out of the gate.
Despite their differences, most have one thing in common—they don’t think of localization as a key part of their businesses. Instead, it’s often treated as an add-on task after a company exhausts its local options.
Internally, that causes leaders to take a piecemeal approach to the entire strategy, which makes it very challenging to launch more than one site at a time. However, with a deeper understanding of the full multi language website translation process, any business can be better prepared to tackle multiple languages in international markets.
Understanding the True Complexity of Multi Language Website Translation
Most companies start their multilingual localization process with a very granular approach. They’ll typically send over a 10-page website, along with a request for a quote, and get back a basic estimate. Then, they’ll jump into the full project basing their initial impression on that quote.
Remaining too focused on the low-cost translation price, however, can cause them to miss a lot of key factors that could create scope creep, like costs associated with hosting, infrastructure, management, maintenance, and more.
This means that as they expand their website, with twice as many pages, keywords, strategies, and customers to support, they could potentially be doubling their costs. This problem occurs when companies focus only on the translation aspect and not the three strategies needed to establish a new market: globalization, internationalization, and localization.
Globalization is the overarching strategy. It’s the broad plan that establishes the right markets to target based on available information. This process requires a lot of research and insight, but is frequently overlooked by companies. A big-picture strategy should be data driven, in that a company uses the information they have to make market decisions rather than just targeting popular languages.
Internationalization is the next step. This requires evaluating the product and seeing what it would take to make it work across borders. When it comes to content, leaders might look at things like their existing code, its variables and regular expressions, and how well that will translate into any given language. Internationalization ensures you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every single market you enter.
Localization breaks down the granular-level details of market entry. It covers things like how you’ll assign linguists, automate workflow, update sites, and ensure the entire content ecosystem is preserved. We’ve seen many companies start at this step without considering globalization and internationalization and suffer the consequences of unsuitable programs and lackluster market launches.
To succeed in multi language website translation, you have to complete these three steps in the appropriate order. First, you globalize to see where your product will fit best. Then, you internationalize by making your content easy for translation. Finally, you execute the plan with a total localization strategy. For obvious reasons, it’s best to not attempt to tackle multiple markets at the same exact time.
Establishing a Scalable Process
Scalability is the key to a proper multi language market approach. First use a globalization strategy to find the best possible language to target, then focus all your efforts on that first option. During this process, you’ll work out several key components of your strategy, including:
- Workflow: How will you establish projects, ensure the right linguists are assigned, and monitor the documents as they’re completed? You should create a streamlined process that leverages exception-based management. With this strategy, your project manager doesn’t need to facilitate every little step; they only need to get involved during key decision-making moments. Creating this workflow will support your sustainable system for all subsequent languages.
- Code audits: Does your code have the appropriate variables, regular expressions, and comments to streamline translation across languages? The best way to test this is by leveraging machine translation. Using this rough draft of your content, you can see where code integrity suffers and find ways to work around issues before you roll out to a complete market launch.
- Prioritization: What content is the most important to your target market? You need to establish priorities for translation. Items that draw in buyers like marketing language or customer support require more attention than things that don’t drive sales, like technical documents. Machine translation can also help here, as you can use rough drafts to gauge demand, see where views come in, and then target that material for more detailed translation. Just be sure to mark every piece of machine translated content as such to avoid misunderstandings.
- Data collection: How will you use the insights you gained to make better business decisions? Your translation program should include a way to compare your expenditures to your returns so you can best see where your efforts pay off and where they are less than satisfactory.
The most important factor in your multi language website translation process is time. Take the time to see the results of the program and uncover issues that will impact other languages. By scaling up your program, you’ll make it much easier to enter more markets and create a sustainable workflow.