In our post today, we decided to discuss some pitfalls to avoid during website translation. You may wonder why being aware of the challenges with website localization is so important. Even if you’re just at the start of your website development, foreseeing that pitfalls kind is essential for the long term success. Why? It’s likely to save you tons of time and resources (read: money) as well as overall localization may help you to acquire tons of traffic and client from all over the world.
Here’s the most important part: it makes a lot of sense to have a test drive with an MVP – a website e.g. only in English. Later on, if all is fine and runs more or less smoothly, you get early fans of your product or service. Green light – now you can plan for website translation in any other languages or a few necessary for your product or service to shine.
To begin with, think of a word-by-word website localization. It’s when you take an actual sentence and revert it into another language without really thinking of a style or grammar in detail. A good example could be Aliexpress: although this ecommerce giant is a successful business with stellar revenue figures, the wholesale portal lacks proper website localization. Some of the listings are funny to read in any other language other than English. Often times, they even don’t make sense – so different they are from the original description.
Beyond that, if you know at the start that your project will be multilingual, it’s good to give a heads-up to your UI / UX team. Even if you think you won’t need your website in many languages, it’s better to leave some room for it: you might change your mind in the long run.
During the website localization, the look and feel of markup and the whole front end can creep and look wacky. If you’re targeting customers from the Middle East, bear in mind the fact that Farsi, Arabic or Hebrew, for instance, are written from right to left and they use neither Cyrillic nor Latin alphabet – another bullet point to take into consideration.
Or even better: imagine you have multiple pages to localize, especially those containing how-to manuals and technical guides. You might be having some of the documentation translated into many languages, while the rest of it is just in English, for instance. Here, do not forget to enable on-site search as another website localization trick. Believe us: the users would surely appreciate having at least some answer to their query they cannot find in their mother tongue.
Let’s get a bit technical here. Every field you use in your project is a variable you should store in a certain system. It’s necessary so that you can easily maintain your website localization issues or any other language-specific queries that arise. Therefore, globalizing your product or service is just the first step to take; after, you’d require effective maintenance tools for your website, do you agree?
When it comes to website translation in general, you can only add a set of languages and change the textual part of it. However, if you have a software project, you’d require not only account for different languages but also measurement systems e.g. length, weight, and time as well. So what’s the problem? Someone might measure the distance in miles, others go by meters etc. The right way to go about these cultural differences is to use Unicode and plan for it in advance. For internal use, it’s necessary to single out just one basic measuring system or time zone.
One more tricky part in website localization is gender. Furthermore, we’re used to equality in the English language where “you” is not just you all the time. However, in such languages as French or German, for instance, you have formal (vous, Sie) and informal (tu, du) forms of “you”. And, in German Sie, written from a capital letter, stands for you formal, while it means “they” if you use small case. It gets even more complicated when you think of seven cases in Russian grammar and four in German: this is where English seems like a no-brainer in comparison to some other languages.
The bottom line is this: we’ve delivered numerous projects and created websites speaking to their audience in different languages. So we’d highly recommend thinking of your website localization beforehand, but not rushing into making it in all the languages at once though.