Why should you consider website translation?
Unlike the early and mid-90’s when English-only publishers and websites dominated the World Wide Web, the new millennium has truly turned the web worldwide!
According to Nielsen/NetRatings, there are currently 10 languages used by roughly 81% of the 1.05 billion worldwide internet users. These languages, in descending order, are English (30%); Chinese (13.8%); Japanese (8.3%); Spanish (7.5%); German (5.6%); French (4.4%); Korean (3.2%); Portuguese (3.1%); Italian (2.8%); and Russian (2.3%).
While doing business on the web in English is still safely the lead choice, given the above numbers, the potential for international opportunities are very appealing. This is why many companies are proactively performing website translation into multiple languages.
If your company has tasked you to investigate, before you plunge into the process, consider the below.
What languages to translate into?
Each company should study the location and habits of its own web visitors and evaluate its strategic geographical plans for growth. Once you know what geographies to target, you can easily determine the languages that you need. This could be French and German for Europe, for example, or Spanish for the USA.
How much to budget?
Having determined the needed languages, try to identify the budget within which you need to operate. If the budget drives the requirements, there are different cost reduction techniques that you can follow to maximize the value of your efforts.
- Eliminate obsolete and rarely used pages, such as unused files left on the web server, old press releases, and old articles.
- Follow the Pareto rule: Identify the 20% of your website that is viewed 80% by your users. You’ll then be better able to gauge your priorities and meet the budget.
- Identify locale-sensitive pages (such as job postings, local events, and local programs) and exclude them from the localization requirements. There is no need to translate your job openings in the USA into Japanese, French, or German.
- Identify the pages that are best re-authored to meet the specific needs of each local market. These are pages related to local events, habits, and customs. Then, coordinate with your in-country staff and engage the proper resources to recreate rather than localize.
- Minimize the use of graphics and image-based navigation buttons with text embedded in them. Convert as much as you can to text. This will minimize the costs of graphic editing. Also, eliminate or simplify text in Flash files.
- Minimize the localization of PDFs (datasheets, brochures, white papers), as they can be costly. Identify which pieces are most important, and which you can eliminate or leave in their source language. Also, verify that source files are available (Quark, Images, Fonts, …) so that they can be efficiently converted into the required languages.
It may not be possible to estimate the cost of localizing a website by simply browsing it. Since websites can be dynamic (ASP/PHP/SQL-based) and not just static (HTML-based), an effort to collect the physical assets — databases, images, Flash, Java scripts, HTM, ASP, PHP, PDFs and all other source files requiring localization — is essential before an accurate estimate can be generated. Once the files are collected, go through them to identify the best strategy for each:
- Leave in the source language
- Localize into the needed languages
- Re-author in the needed languages
Once you have all the files requiring localization identified, use this simple formula to come up with an estimated localization budget: First, count the words that need translation. Next, multiply the word count by the number of languages needed, then divide by three. (If you cannot count the words, your technical translation services vendor will do it for you, usually at no cost.)
To give you an idea, an average website has about 100 pages and can cost roughly $5,000 per language to localize. This usually includes the following:
- Reviewing by a second translator,
- Localizing basic images,
- Performing Quality Assurance (QA) tasks to ensure proper display in one or two web browsers
- Storing the translation in translation databases for future reuse
(Note: Companies seriously considering web page translations often host larger-than-average websites).
How often to synchronize languages?
Since websites are very organic in nature and are constantly changing, you should decide how frequently you should update the translated pages, and how closely they should be synchronized with the source.
With the advent of content management solutions and translation memory databases, technology permits anywhere from infrequent updates (monthly, quarterly or yearly) to as frequent as daily updates. It is only a matter of how much time and money you are willing to invest in the processes and the technology.
Luckily, translation memory tools enabling easy translation reuse are abundant and not costly. Any localization professional that you decide to work with should be able to provide you with at least the ability to store the translations in a database for easy updates and retrieval. This makes monthly updates feasible with minimal overhead to the overall localization costs.
Content management solution integration with concurrent localization will add a significant amount of costs to acquire, implement, integrate, customize and operate. This option should be considered only when weekly or daily website updates in more than one language are required, and when a six-figure budget for tools and setup (excluding localization costs) is not a constraint.
Not as easy as it sounds?
Addressing worldwide web users’ needs with an international website is not an easy undertaking. This is why you need to think seriously about involving professional language translation services early in the process.
Check out our Window to the World website localization package.