Companies: Why and How to Localize Your Website Properly
Lately, I’ve been browsing various websites to identify potential new clients. Many were either only in English, or badly localized (e.g., machine- or partially translated). And I’m not necessarily talking about small companies that have no budget for translation, but ones that are operating in multiple countries.
Why is this an issue?
Because not everybody speaks English. I love English, I can’t imagine my life without it, but some people don’t have the possibility of learning it, don’t want to, or don’t like being addressed in this language by default. That’s their complete right.
What struck me too is the fact that some companies, headquartered in a country where English is not an official language at all, only offered content in this language. A few times, I ended up on the website of companies based in Zurich, expecting it to be at the very least translated in German (and, in a perfect world, French and Italian), but where the only available locale was… English.
What should be done?
Ideally, you should translate your content in the language(s) spoken by the market and prospects you are targeting (a great way to show you care about them, by the way).
HOWEVER, please refrain from asking any random employee to translate your copy (e.g., the accountant who studied the language in question at school and is convinced they write it like a native). Translation should be handled by professionals.
Also, your employees may not like taking care of such a task, as they feel they are not qualified for it. Ask me tomorrow to teach English, only because I know the language, and my answer will be NO. “Chacun son métier et les vaches seront bien gardées” as we say in French*.
“But translation is expensive!”
If you trust giant translation agencies with the localization of your website, be indeed prepared to be charged quite a lot, since you will pay more than what you would for “just” translation. You would also indirectly contribute to an exploitative model, where linguists are sometimes offered a shocking €0.04 when said agency makes four times more.
If you go with a freelance translator, you will get a fair price. I am not saying that you will be able to pay them peanuts either (⚠️a translator deserves to be paid fairly). The difference is that you won’t be charged extras like translation memory management, project management or, worse, inhouse revision that is in reality never conducted by certain unscrupulous agencies.
Last but not least: you will be able to easily interact with the person translating your content. No intermediary, no delays. If you have a question, you can just send an e-mail to the linguist. This linguist will respond quickly, without having to fill out long sheets, or to log in to a platform to post queries that will be ignored half of the time (true story).
So, what are you waiting for?
* Literally translates as "To each their own job and the cows will be well looked after."