Choosing the right method for website translations

In this post I continue our crash course in website translations! Previously we looked at getting started with website translations and choosing your CMS for website translations, this time I’m going to explore the different translation and localisation methods you can use; and when to use them.

Website translations typically involve several different content types. There will be creative copy that requires marketing translation and transcreation to ensure that it’s engaging and compelling in your target market. There may also be product descriptions or technical information that is written in a simpler and less emotive style that either requires standard or technical translation. Your website might also have legal information such as terms and conditions, which will require specialist legal translation to ensure it holds up in a different country.

Specialist translation services such as transcreation normally takes more time and therefore costs more. That’s why it’s a good idea to identify the different types of content on your website and use the most relevant translation method for each group. This will save time and money, and ensure that you get the right type of translation where you need it.

Below I list the translation methods we use when handling a website and localisation translation project, including the types of website content that best suit each method.

Website translation and localisation methods

Professional human translation

A local website is an important asset for reaching consumers in new markets, it may be the first touch point they have with your brand. Therefore it is important to have professional native-speaking linguists involved in your website localisation project using the right technology and other translation methods to deliver the best results possible.

Specialist translation

For highly specialist subjects, a translator with subject matter expertise is essential. Websites with medical, legal or highly technical information will need a translator who understands the subject in detail and, most importantly, how to preserve the accuracy and relevancy of the information when translated into your target language. Your website may only require this translation method for one webpage or a few documents; or it may be beneficial to use a specialist translator across the entire project if the website is highly technical.

For some website translation projects you need a combination of sector-specific expertise and marketing translation methods. For example the creative copy on a website for a car manufacturer will need some automotive experience as well as marketing skills.


Creative copy on your website – such as straplines, brand messaging, and content designed to engage visitors – should be handled sensitively to ensure it is as effective in the new market as in your domestic market. This requires a translation and localisation method called transcreation (also known as creative translation) that adapts the content – text, images and graphics – so that it retains the brand identity and emotive content, but takes into account cultural preferences. You can learn more about why transcreation is important here.


Sometimes marketing or advertising copy needs more than just transcreation. In some cases creative copywriting, for example a call to action on a landing page or strapline on a header, simply doesn’t translate effectively even with creative translation. Therefore you may need to brief a native-speaking copywriter to rewrite some content and find a more effective way of communicating with consumers in a new market.

Machine translation

Translation technology has come on by leaps and bounds in recent years and so Machine Translation (MT) has its place when handling website content. Although the MT technology we use is much more advanced than free online translation tools, it is not fool proof. Therefore, it is best suited for translating large bodies of text where the cost of human translation might otherwise preclude it from being translated.

Consider using machine translation for knowledge banks, technical documents, or for user-generated content (online forums, chatbots and blog comments) where accurate translation is not as essential.

Machine translation with human editing

If you want to increase accuracy and consistency of large documents or pages of text, combine machine translation with the services of a human translator. This method will speed up translation time by providing a first draft that the human translator will then edit. They will use your glossary of terminology and any language style guides provided for reference to improve the translation, and check for accuracy and consistency.

Choosing the right translation method for each content group will ensure that your website translation project is delivered to the highest standards, but also with an eye on your budget and timescale. To find out more about website translations and discuss your requirements, please get in touch. Call +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

Alternatively you can download our new guide – 6 Steps to Website Translation and Localisation here.


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