Preparing your content for website translations

In my previous post on website translations I discussed how different translation methods can be used for different types of content on your website to save time and money, and to ensure that important brand messages and creative copy is just as engaging as the source content.

This time I’m going to share my tips for preparing the content for translation; again with the aim of reducing translation costs, increasing accuracy and consistency, and making sure your local website has the right impact in your new market.

Is your website content ‘global-ready’?

Translation costs can escalate when content has not been created with globalisation in mind. If your website copy, images, graphics etc. have been developed in a very UK-centric way, you could find that your website translation and localisation project is very complex.

Little things such as embedding text in graphics (for example, a button or symbol with a text command) will require more work than if the text ‘floats’ over the button, where only the text needs to be localised.

Language idiosyncrasies and cultural references also involve more work, as these cannot be effectively translated without finding alternative solutions. If your source text uses lots of idioms, puns or humour, it may require rewriting to find an effective way of communicating your message in a different language. Similarly if your website content includes cultural references, whether in the text or in the imagery, these elements will need to be replaced to make it relevant to international consumers.

Making sure your website content is global-ready before handing the project over to a translation partner will help keep project costs down. Therefore we suggest a content audit to review all the website content that requires translation and localisation, and identify what may benefit from reworking before translation.

In-market reviewers – perhaps your colleagues, suppliers or business associates in your target market – can help identify the content that is global-ready and the content that needs work. If you don’t have people on the ground who can review the website content, ask your translation partner!

The following points will help:

Use terminology and common phrases consistently across the website, this will speed up translation and also ensure the translated text is consistent and clear. Your translation partner will use Translation Memory (TM) software across the website project; this picks up repeated phrases and terms to ensure they are translated in a consistent ways throughout. Industry or company specific terms only need to be translated once when using TM, saving time and money.

Avoid cultural references where possible. Text that refers to locations, customs, traditions and religion, or celebrities and public figures, needs a global outlook. Be too regionally specific and your translation team will have to find alternatives that resonate in the local market. Images or graphics should also be reviewed; look out for £ signs, Union Jacks and other visual elements that shout ‘UK’! However, sometimes these are relevant as they may be synonymous with the brand, such as for a luxury goods company where ‘Made in Britain’ is a key selling point in overseas markets.

KISS (keep it simple, stupid) is good practice. Both with the website design and sentence structures. A clear, concise sentence using Standard English is easier to understand and translate. Also keep symbols and buttons generic, and don’t embed text – ask your graphic designers to create separate text layers in the source file.

White space. When designing a website that will be translated into different languages it is important to consider text expansion and how that will affect the design of pages, templates, and graphics. Allow enough white space to accommodate any increases.

Website translation – plan for the future

For many companies, the first time a website is translated into another language involves a steep learning curve. Copy and design features that were never created with globalisation in mind will need careful handling to ensure a success translation project.

However, in future there are opportunities to streamline the process and ensure new content, updates and new local websites are translated and localised smoothly. By putting into practice the points above when creating new assets – blog posts, downloads, new webpages, etc. – future and on-going website translation projects will be that much easier.

For more advice on website translation and localisation download our new guide – 6 Steps to Website Translation and Localisation.

If you any questions about the subjects covered in this post, please give me a call or send me an email. Call +44 (0) 1926 335 681 or


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