Businesses looking to expand globally can benefit enormously from translating a website into the language used in a new market. Providing your target audience with culturally appropriate and meaningful content will not only add value, but also allow you to communicate confidently internationally and drive more targeted traffic to your site.
However, a poorly executed website translation can have an extremely negative impact on your brand’s reputation in a new country. So, when researching how to translate your website, be aware that today’s media-rich landscape involves far more than simply a word-for-word translation of text.
Here we look at the key factors to consider, no matter what language you are planning to introduce.
A successful website should always provide accurate linguistic and cultural content that resonates with your target audience. Therefore, it is essential to research any cultural sensitivities or censorship to avoid alienating or offending the people you want to reach.
This research should also include an audit of your existing content to help identify any potential cultural faux pas or colloquialisms that don’t resonate, then determine the resources and expertise you need to achieve your goals. A professional translation service can guide you through the process and advise on translation costs depending on your requirements.
The number and combination of languages you intend to translate can have implications for your website design or user experience (UX), so always allow for text expansion or reduction. Take for example Arabic which reads from right to left, and bear in mind that one or two characters in Chinese can translate as a whole line in English.
Subject matter complexity will determine the time a translation takes to complete. Typically, more complex subjects like those found in technical industries, such as engineering will take longer, and require translators who are linguistic experts and subject specialists.
Keyword search and SEO research in the target language is another key consideration to help you identify what your new audience is searching for and the key words and phrases they use. Investing time in this will then allow you to enhance your website for search and achieve high rankings.
Localisation and transcreation specialists will ensure that linguistic and cultural subtleties are maintained throughout the translation process to preserve your brand voice and enhance your connection with the target audience.
This may involve converting measurement units, currencies and date formats, and adapting regional references depending on the location. Also remember to translate or adapt any text within images, alt text descriptions, video scripts, and subtitles to guarantee your content remains culturally relevant.
It is important to include images and icons of people and places that represent your target audience, while being respectful of specific cultural norms and religions. Video content is only a powerful communication tool if your audience can understand and relate to it, so you may need to edit or re-shoot in more familiar regional locations.
Be aware that colours can symbolise different things for different cultures, so you may need to adapt your site’s design to avoid alienation. The colour red, for example, is generally seen as a symbol of good luck, celebration, and prosperity in Asia, but can relate to death and aggression in Africa or warnings and alerts elsewhere in Europe.
Links to sites and platforms we take for granted in the UK might be censored in certain countries. So, if your site links to social media accounts, check whether your new market can access these or what they use instead. For instance, people in China use domestic messaging apps such as WeChat, QQ, and Momo – not Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or LinkedIn.
To avoid limiting your reach, identify the preferred search engines used by your target market. While Google is very popular in many countries, access can be tightly controlled elsewhere – it is worth noting that Baidu is China’s answer to Google and controls 75% of the search engine market.
Ecommerce is usually driven by the cultural norms and available technology in a country or region, so it pays to be informed about preferred payment methods. Product descriptions should also be translated and checked to ensure they are culturally appropriate.
Investing in a multilingual website is well worth the effort for businesses moving into international markets. Awareness of the wide range of considerations covered here will allow your business to extend its reach, build brand awareness, and increase sales.
Bubbles is a professional full-service accredited translation agency helping our clients reach new markets overseas. Our network of 3,800 trusted translators are experienced linguistic experts and subject-matter and/or marketing specialists, serving 1,300+ customers with translations into 280+ languages.
Contact Bubbles today to discuss your website translation project and get a quote.