Website translation – why is it different?

You’re just back at your desk from a meeting, motivated, full of energy, and inspired by this new assignment you’ve been given. As part of its efforts to enter new markets, your company is planning to set up a German version of its existing English-language website. Great responsibility, high visibility… but you lack experience. As a client, you’re familiar with the general process of having documents translated by a contracted agency, but this is the first time you need to deal with a website. All you have is a URL address and no clue about how to kick off this project.

No Word file, no worries

First, you need a quote for the work, a timeline, and then someone to help you set up an action plan.
The first question of any professional language service provider will be the volume. Who can tell how many words there are on the umpteen subpages of a website? In your mind’s eye you already see yourself copy-pasting the contents of the website into a Word document. The good news is that you can spare yourself the trouble. Contact your IT people or website developers instead and ask for the XML files of those pages you need translated into German. There are several other file formats translation agencies can work with, so if XML is not available, all is not lost.
XML files allow your translation partner to generate an analysis of the translatable volume with a click of a button.

One small step in the right direction

Once you know how many words need to be translated, it’s easier to estimate how much time the linguistic work will take, including preparation, translation, proofreading, and an in-house quality check. When creating a timeline, however, it’s recommended to allow for a few extra days and to have an additional step in the process. Instead of completing the entire translation phase in one go, you might want to check a smaller batch – let’s say a few pages – first to make sure the quality, style and wording of the translation meets your expectations. If you’re happy with the taster, you can move on to the full menu. Remember: a company website can include as many as 50,000 words!

The proof of the pudding

XML files contain translatable text along with other types of non-translatable content. Translation tools help the linguist separate the two, and while the English text is replaced by German during the work, all the other content remains unchanged. You can be safe in the knowledge that you receive the translation in the same file format from the agency. This makes developers’ life a lot easier – posting the new language version is as simple as a file import –it saves you time and, most importantly, money.
Before publishing the new pages, don’t forget testing! Functional testing doesn’t require language skills, but it’s something you shouldn’t skip. During linguistic testing the proofreader checks the pages for typos and out-of-context issues and makes necessary amendments such as shortening a caption if it doesn’t fit.

Are we there yet?

When you think “Finally, we’ve got it!”, it’s not yet time to celebrate. Depending on the new audience, you may have to adapt pictures, colours, symbols or even the website layout and site navigation to be culturally appropriate for your new viewers. And what’s the point of having a great website in multiple languages if your customers can’t find you? A successful online presence is unthinkable without SEO translation.

Written by Anita Salát, Communication Manager at Eurideas Language Experts
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