What Needs to Be Done in Order to Have a Perfectly Translated Website

Zbyněk Zelenka

Zbyněk Zelenka

22. 12. 2011

Each type of translation has its own specific requirements. Here, we will try to explain what is most important when dealing with a website, i.e. its translation and localization.

You can find basic information about the difference between translation and localization on our website http://www.zelenka-translations.com/localization/.

According to their universal definition, translating and localizating a website is about converting texts and graphics of the source website into target languages (language environments) so that its content (i.e. texts and graphics) corresponds to the requirements and ideas of target readers in each of these environments.

It sounds simple, but how do we achieve it?

Which specific steps to take and what to focus on:

In the first phase, your translation agency will need at least one of the following:

- a complete package of source files of the website,

- access to administration of the website (e.g. using the editing system).

If none of the above-stated options are possible, then it is, at least, necessary to provide the address of the website intended for translation, as well as its map, if possible (i.e. a list of individual subpages, ideally a graphical display of their structure).

Using all this basic information and these materials, a basic analysis of the project can be carried out. It is necessary to bear in mind the selection and number of target languages, volume of text, potential graphical modifications, and also the use of technologies and working procedures.

Based on these, a basic price calculation will be prepared, together with a description of the work, proposed prices, and deadlines.

Of course, most clients and contractors already know this.

If the translated (localized) website is to fulfill all its functions perfectly, it is also necessary to:


1. Optimize the website for search engines (SEO)

This is absolutely essential and should be done correctly before inserting the translated texts into the new language version of the website. Optimization has to be very carefully planned and profesionally conducted, otherwise your website will not reach the top positions in search engines and all the work related to the production of the language version of the website may be useless. There are very few companies and institutions for which search engines are not an important source internet traffic.

Among other things, it is also important to:

- use correct key words in all language versions,

- correctly optimize local home pages in particular, as these are visited most frequently,

- use local domain names (e.g. .de, .fr),

- correctly use and translate metatags (basic data about the website which is visible to search engines).


2. Create a glossary (or obtain one that is already finished) of local specific terms and special terms of the client and ensure a consistent use of these terms in all language versions of the website

Each company has its own specific terms so it is not enough to use common discipline dictionaries. Besides, these terms have to perfectly correspond to the environment into which the website is localized. This is not only about the terminology used in the given country and discipline, but also about key words people in the given country use when searching on the Internet. Custom practises of Internet users, i.e. mainly the way they formulate phrases for searching, may differ in various regions in the world.


3. Use suitable graphical elements and localizations of the user interface

If possible, use a flexible design that enables a dynamic display of the website. Words with same meaning can vary in length between languages, so it is not suitable to use fixed frames or buttons.


4. Use Unicode and UTF-8 encoding

Make sure that your website is able to correctly display all languages in common browsers; Unicode and UTF-8 are universal for all languages.


5. Conduct market research where your potential clients could be expected (those attracted by this website)

It is necessary to find out whether there are realistic business options in the given location and whether it is reasonable to expect clients to be interested in the offered services and products. If it cannot be expected, then there is no reason to localize the website into this environment.


6. Get familiar with local culture, ethics, and legislation

Translators have to know, understand correctly and be able to translate, like native speakers, all these local specifics.


7. Ensure support of the content management system of the website

Administration of each professional website should enable simple editing of texts and graphical elements into individual language versions. Prior to commencing work on the translation, it is advisable to consult a translation agency about a suitable working procedure, i.e. whether to use any CMS (content management system) or not (directly edit the programming code of the website).


8. Ensure a user-friendly, simple, and easy-to-understand selection of the language for readers

Readers have to be able to quickly and accurately select the language version of the website they are looking for. It is necessary to consider using a text description, icons with national flags etc. This may work differently in individual countries.


9. Optimize social media for the given location

Our penultimate recommendation concerns optimization of the website with respect to local social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn etc.). Some countries use a specifically modified network or use this media in different ways.


10. Test the finished website in the location it is intended for

The final step, still prior to launching the website, concerns testing in the location it is to be used in. Testing should be conducted both in terms of functions and linguistic correctness. It is necessary to carry out an analysis of the results of the tests and then modify, change or add content accordingly.

Based on all these above-stated factors, it is obvious that there are very specific requirements concerning the translation and localization of websites.

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