Most newcomers to website translation believe that managing a translated site is a straightforward process. But building and operating translated websites is a complex multi-step endeavor that demands the involvement of linguists, graphic designers, technologists, quality assurance professionals and much more.
The impact of effective (or ineffective) website management is also complicated and extend across your organization. For instance, a well-managed translated site supports sales efforts in new markets by building awareness of your brand, products and services. But a poorly translated or outdated site leads to customer confusion … or lack of awareness entirely.
This section covers these complexities and illuminates the unseen technical challenges most companies face as they consider translating their websites for multilingual and international markets. We’ll cover key topics such as:
The Unseen Workflows Associated with Website Translation: Even at a high level, the process of collecting and assigning for translation—and then receiving and publishing that translated content—is complicated. And when it’s done inefficiently or incorrectly, the costs can quickly add up.
The Unseen Management Workload: There are dozens (or, depending on the complexity of your website, perhaps hundreds) of persnickety translation tasks, upkeep of people and processes, and ongoing technical effort that go into managing a translated website. It’s usually too much for a company, and even most website translation vendors, to keep up with.
Understanding Your Translation and Technical Needs: It requires a fair amount of brain power and planning to determine the scope of your translation project. For instance: Should you translate more than just your website, such as digital assets and social media posts? Will your website’s backend technologies be incompatible with translation solutions? Can the solution accommodate enterprise-wide translation needs? We’ll cover the basics.
Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Software: There’s plenty of need-to-know when it comes to the capabilities of the software used to translate your content, and we’ll provide it. You’ll learn about the cost-saving capabilities of translation memory, the critical role that change-detection technologies play in identifying online content for translation, and more.
Technologies That Power Translated Websites: You’ll get a crash course in the technologies most commonly used to manage the intake and output of translated content, which is then presented to multilingual end-users. We’ll cover language translation APIs, CMS translation connectors and proxy translation based approaches, all described below.
APIs: These technologies facilitate connections between companies and their translation vendors, enabling both organizations to send content for translation and transmit back the translated text. They also provide a pipeline between a company’s CIM/PIM and the vendor’s translation database.
CMS Translation Connectors: Connectors are created by translation vendors for numerous content management systems. They provide connections between a vendor’s translation databases and a customer’s CMS, delivering streamlined localization management across the website.
Proxy-Based Solutions: Proxy technology leverages the code and content of your website, enabling the translation and continuous operation of translated versions. They perfectly preserve the website’s functionality, and automatically update and serve its translated content on a continual basis. While most proxy translation solutions require customer-side effort, effortless approaches exist.
Hybrid Approach: Combining a proxy technology with an API or connector solution is the preferred approach for companies that need robust, nimble translations for content across all channels: website, documents, apps and more.
Business-Boosting Website Optimizations: We’ll also share some mission-critical services and technological capabilities to look for in a translation vendor, including localized on-site search, localized SEO keyword research, user language-preference detection, and much more.
The Basics of Multilingual Website Management
Website localization often requires many unseen tasks. For instance, to translate content from your origin site, it must be processed through a translation workflow, which often includes these steps:
- Identify new or updated content for translation
- Extract the content from the origin site and separate it from its code
- Send the content to translators
- Receive translated content and review for accuracy
- Incorporate the translation into the website design
- Make sure new content displays properly and all functionality works
- Repeat as needed to keep the site current
Beyond translation, other aspects also require management:
- Vendors such as translation services and web hosting providers
- Technologies such as CMS Translation connectors and APIs
- SEO keyword libraries and other optimization tools
- Analysis and reporting of site performance
Leveraging a great automatic website translation solution that makes the most of technology and human expertise can deliver a multilingual site that meets the highest expectations of your local customers—and accelerates your success in new markets.
How to Find the Right Website Translation Solution
Here’s how to research the latest technology-based translation services for websites … especially if you have lean resources, limited knowledge and heavy demands on your time and organization.
Define Your Technical Needs
Countless technical complexities can make it tricky to localize your origin website’s content for multilingual or international markets. As you research website translation services, consider these questions:
- How will different solutions affect my site’s back-end systems?
- What happens if I need to make CMS or platform changes?
- Will the solution translate social media, payment platforms, third-party apps and other multichannel content streams?
- Who manages the workflows to funnel new content to and from translators?
- What happens when translated content is too long or short for existing web templates?
Advanced automatic website translation solutions can manage your project in ways that dramatically ease technical and workflow burdens within your organization—and help ensure a great customer experience for multilingual users.
Define Your Translation Needs
You’ll also want to consider your translation needs. This information is critical, since different solutions handle these needs with different degrees of success.
- Do you need to only translate your company’s website?
- Do you need to only translate offline content, social media content, and other non-website content?
- Or do you need to translate both website and omnichannel content?
Now let’s take a closer look at which automatic website translation solutions work best for these needs, and how they can work with your company’s existing IT solutions, software and hardware.
Technologies that Manage Translation & Localization Processes
Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Software
Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools are translation programs that combine multilingual text editing with other features, such as terminology databases, quality assurance and post-production tools. They also often use dashboards that provide up-to-date information on translation updates and changes.
Most professional translators use these complex tools to optimize their productivity, collaborate efficiently, ensure consistent translation quality and preserve brand integrity.
Common CAT capabilities include:
- The use of a translation memory database to store and re-use translated text
- The parsing of content into easy-to-translate segments for translators to edit
- Grammar and spell-check technologies
- An interface to revise translated text
- Integrated linguistic resources to ensure consistency of translations
- Editorial workflows to vet translation quality
CAT software is usually optimized to translate one of two categories of content:
- Digital content (often for websites and other online channels)
- Offline content (often documents, or analog brochures, signage, etc.)
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important CAT capabilities you should look for as you review translation solutions for your business.
Localized Style Guide and Glossary
Every website translation project should have a unique set of translation guidelines. Localized style guides and glossaries are linguistic resources that reflect your industry’s preferred terms and brand’s unique voice. Linguists continually reference them to ensure consistent and accurate word choices as they provide website translation services on an ongoing basis.
Often, the creation of a localized glossary and style guide is the first task performed for a translation project. Vendors should provide a documented and thorough editorial process in which you can review and provide feedback on these important translated terms.
Once approved, the glossary and style guide are uploaded to the CAT tool, ensuring linguists are always using the latest version of the glossary.
You should always be empowered to request a translation update for a specific term or be able to update that term yourself.
Co-creating these resources with your vendor ensures you have an ongoing “north star” for guiding your website translation—and a clear, mutual understanding with your translation partner about the language and terminology that’s most relevant to your audience.
Great CAT tools use proven, efficient workflows to swiftly (and accurately) localize and deploy content. When used by professional linguists and editors, these processes eliminate the need for you to hire and manage in-house proofreaders, editors and quality control editors.
Great translation services for websites include editorial oversight, special linguistic localizations, and even translation of multimedia assets. Here’s an example of an efficient editorial process, aided by automation:
- New content is identified for translation
- Content is parsed into translatable segments and transmitted to linguists for immediate translation
- Content is translated by a linguist
- Translated content is assigned to an editor to review and modify content as needed
- Content is activated/published
Translate by Content Type
Great CAT tools should enable linguists and other users to select and assign different content types for translation. For instance, entire webpages—or sections of pages—can be assigned for automatic website translation. Functionality for assigning other media types, such as videos or images, should be supported, too.
This capability enables users to upload localized images created by their preferred linguists and graphic designers.
You should always have the ability to provide translation and linguistic feedback directly to your website translation vendor. The same applies to offering feedback on the solution’s technical capabilities.
Important Customer-Facing CAT Capabilities
Some translation vendors use CAT systems that enable their customers to exercise full control over how their brands are represented across languages and markets. Two compelling features to look for include:
These features empower customers to easily provide feedback about the vendors’ translations, modify them, or create their own translations for specific markets. Great toolsets also enable customers to review their localized glossary and style guide resources.
Look for toolsets that provide a “live view” of translations in relation to how they appear alongside on-page images, menus and other design elements. This provides time- and cost-saving benefits, including:
- Helps prevent text misalignments or other UX flaws that may occur when linguists or other users make content changes
- Reduces translation costs by using in-house resources for simple edits and reviews, rather than relying on the vendor’s translation team
- Speedy publication of revised translated content
- Direct contact with the vendor’s translation team
- First-hand assurance that brand voice and messaging are accurate and consistent, site-wide
Great vendors also empower their customers—or their teams in global markets—to use CAT software to localize content on their translated websites. This empowers you to replace standardized translated content with impactful customized content that caters to a market’s unique culture and buying preferences.
The best examples of these customer-facing tools can publish localized campaign content, replace translated phrases with more regionally relevant words or lingo, and more:
- Management of localized content is practically effortless for marketing teams
- Delivers total control to marketers to create or manage a personalized experience on localized websites
- Marketing teams can modify content and images to enhance the local website experience
- Marketers can modify or replace assets based on different logic or trigger events, and can be time-based
Read more about website translation in our ultimate guide to website translation.
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