Multilingual websites open businesses to the world, as well as domestic markets that aren’t native speakers or simply prefer to use alternative languages. Website translation is all about maximising your reach through inclusive content, and business potential drastically increases with every additional language.
Of course, quality translation is the key ingredient, but you also need to think about the technical aspects of developing multilingual websites – not to mention a content strategy that is going to cater for every audience.
Translating an existing website
If you already have an existing website and you are looking to translate it into other languages, the first thing you need to think about is the technical process and how to manage it without interrupting your existing site.
Effective website translation relies on quality web development just as much as linguistic expertise.
Essentially, you are going to create additional versions of your website and either host them on separate regional domains (e.g. www.yoursite.com, www.yoursite.es, www.yoursite.de, etc.) or link them together using subdomains.
For the most part, your original website should remain untouched throughout this entire process although some content/design tweaks might be made for consistency across all sites.
With the technical side taken care of, you can turn your attention to translating your content. As your site is already up and running, you have the source content to work with and much of this can simply be translated into your target languages.
However, keep in mind that audience needs and expectations vary around the world and you might not want to use the same message/content for every audience on the key pages of your website. For example, you might want to adapt your homepage message to suit the needs of local markets and localise your content to match their interests.
Don’t assume the same content will get the same results in every market.
Creating a multilingual website from scratch
If you don’t have an existing website and you are starting a new project from scratch, you have the advantage of being able to work with a blank canvas. This means you can design and develop your website with translation and multilingual audiences in mind from the very first stage.
Try to make the most of this opportunity.
As we mentioned in the previous section, the interests of your different target audiences will vary. So start by researching each audience and determine which messages and content are going to be most effective. When you are confident the same message will get the desired result, you can create your source content and translate it for each relevant audience.
When the same message is not going to work, you will want to create unique content in each audience’s language that addresses their needs.
So, while part of your translation process is going to convert the same content into multiple languages, it is crucial that you localise your content strategy and adapt your messages to create original content for each market, too.
Keep this in mind when you are producing multimedia content, as well. For example, when it comes to producing video content, think about how you can make your footage universal by either avoiding local cultural references that don’t apply to certain audiences. Or, better yet, create clips that are localised and adapted for each market, including local settings, people and cultural references that make your brand feel more native to every audience.
For more information, take a look at our ‘How to translate a website in 9 key steps’ article or give our website translation experts a call.