So, you want to use your web site to market your products outside of the United States. Is it as easy as getting your web site translated into the languages for your target countries? Not quite, and we’ll help you see why.

Read this article touching on some of the costs behind a web site localization project to learn about some pitfalls you can expect, and more importantly, the ones you can avoid!

HTML – There are great tools on the market now so that anyone can build a web site without knowing HTML. You can translate web files without knowing HTML also. We have a tool called Trados, which is a Computer-Assisted Translation tool. It has a filter called TagEditor specially designed for tagged file formats such as HTML, SGML and even RTF. In a nutshell, it protects the tags in your marked-up files so the translator cannot alter them in any way. Using Trados, the integrity of your files stays intact.It isn’t just as simple as that, though. Your translation service should know how to manage HTML and other web design techniques in order to be able to anticipate and fix the idiosyncrasies of web files. Example: a recent web site project that included a translated glossary of terms. Easy enough, right? Well, once you translate those terms, you need to re-alphabetize them. Without knowing HTML coding, it might not have been possible.

Our Project Managers are HTML certified and have taken a whole spectrum of Web site classes to ensure quality assurance in dealing with their clients’ web files.

Graphics – Depending on how your graphics are created, the translation of text within web graphics can be a time-consuming and costly part of any web site localization project. If your menu buttons are graphical, have you left enough room for the translated text? Translated text can expand almost 25-30% in some languages. Do you have complicated graphics with text layered, masked or hidden among pictures or photos? Have you kept in touch with the graphic designer who created these graphics? Do you have the original formats or only the GIF? Some complicated GIF files with text may not be translatable. Have you thought about alternatives? Is leaving a graphic in English going to cause problems?Some web designers recommend that you not use icons to represent ideas. Poll different people in your own company about the meaning of an icon or graphic and you may get a variety of responses. It gets even more complicated in other cultures. A common icon used in the U.S. for email is a little white mailbox with a red flag. Germans think it’s a loaf of bread! Consider changing your icons to simple text links. And don’t worry – we won’t let you get away with anything that will get you in trouble.

Forms – Do you have forms on your web site for visitors to fill in? Can visitors send you an email for support or more information? Have you thought about what you will do with this information if you get an email in Spanish? Sure, we can translate it for you, but that might get expensive. If you are selling your products in Mexico, do you already have Spanish-speaking Customer Service Reps hired and trained to be able to take these orders or answer questions? If your forms take information such as contact info and email addresses for a newsletter, does your server-side database which stores this information accept accented characters? Does the database have fields for other address information that the U.S. might not have (i.e. Provinces or 6-digit alphanumeric postal codes in Canada)?

Links – Do you offer a links page to supply your visitors with more information about a given subject? Have you researched links in the target language? There’s no sense in sending them to a page full of English links if your site is written in Spanish. Of course, your Spanish visitors might also read English just fine. But, if you include a links page, make sure to include links in each language you offer on your site.

End-user review – Do you have a customer or client located in your target country who can review the translation of your new multilingual web site? This is a very important step and should be a requirement of any translation project – web site, manual or brochure. We are happy to work with your in-country reviewers, and in some cases, we can even send a translator to their location to sit down with them in person.

Access to your webmaster or graphic designer – Each web site is different, as is every manual or brochure. The designer leaves a unique fingerprint on everything (s)he does. Sometimes, speaking to the webmaster or graphic designer can make a complicated task much easier. If we can communicate with these people in your company, it may save a lot of time and money in the long run. They can usually unveil the mysteries behind the way they did things.
So, do you still want to translate your web site into the language of your target country? Let us provide you with a free translation quote.