“Can’t read, won’t buy.”
The title of a study of over 2,400 consumers sums up the appeal of a multilingual website: people simply prefer to buy from websites if they’re in their native language. Over half of the consumers surveyed for the study only shopped at sites in their own language, and among the ones who browsed sites in other languages, only a quarter felt comfortable making buying decisions. It is easy to see then why business would opt for multilingual websites: offering their services and products in more than one language is a way to expand their market enormously.
But how difficult is it to localize and maintain a multilingual website? Glad you asked: Gobierno.USA.gov and Government Multilingual Websites Community have developed a list of ten best practices for multilingual websites that we’re happy to share and discuss here.
This one should be obvious: users have to be able to read the site in the language of their choice. This doesn’t only include all content but also navigation buttons, features and functions of the site. Machine translation is “strongly discouraged”, even if a disclaimer is added, and every translation has to be reviewed by a qualified translation professional before it is posted.
Beyond the concerns of the language, it is important for multilingual websites to also address cultural considerations in order to connect with their audience. The key to a successful multilingual website is translation and localization by an expert who understands the target culture and can avoid potential localization problems and pitfalls.
The best multilingual website is useless if users can’t find pages their language. Toggle buttons that allow users to easily switch languages have to be visible and easily accessible on every page, usually on the top right.
4. URL Strategy
A solid URL strategy is essential for marketing and search engine optimization. The Gobierno guidelines state that a “stand-alone, dedicated” URL should be used — but they don’t go into detail whether it should be a country code top level domain (yoursite.fr), a subdomain (fr.yoursite.com) or a subdirectory (yoursite.com/fr/). For more details on the advantages and disadvantages of each method, take a look at this Guide to Multilingual and Multiregional SEO.
5. Comparability and Maintenance
This is another big one: make sure the user experience on the different language subsites on your website is comparable — and that you have plans in place how to keep it that way. Updates and maintenance on a multilingual website have to happen continually across all languages. Otherwise, users in certain languages will have a different (and out of date!) experience that will reflect poorly on your business.
6. Users’ Expectations
Make sure you warn users with a notice before you send them to a section of your site that hasn’t been translated yet, to an external link in a different language or if a file needs special software that may not be available in their language. An icon or short text letting them know about the target’s language may be enough to avoid confusion or disappointment.
This goes hand in hand with #3: users should be able to toggle between different languages without having to return to the homepage. A toggle switch on each multilingual page goes a long way in providing a smooth user experience.
8. Online Features and Functionality
You’ll want to make sure that not only content has been translated but that interactive features are available in multiple languages as well. For instance, users should be able to share, email, print and subscribe to your site in their native language.
9. Integrated Operations and Marketing
Your multilingual website should be supported by offline infrastructure and customer contacts, which means that phone numbers, email support, and marketing materials should all be available in multiple languages as well and tie into your overall strategy.
10. Online Marketing
We mentioned SEO concerns briefly when we talked about your site’s URL architecture in #4. But successful multilingual online marketing and SEO also require a multilingual online marketing and social media strategy. This includes multilingual blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as the tracking of results of your multilingual marketing efforts.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, a truly effective multilingual web presence requires more than hastily translating some of your content. Your site’s overall strategy and architecture, supporting features, offline infrastructure, social media presence and marketing strategies all need to be translated as well as localized and adapted to the target language and culture, and then continuously updated and maintained.
If this sounds like a lot, you may want to consider the alternative: a shoddily put together web presence in another language — poorly thought out and implemented, perhaps translated by machine and inappropriate for its target audience — may do more harm than good. The same high professional standards should apply across all languages to ensure that a foreign-language user will have an equally satisfying experience when they visit your site.
And consider the benefits: whatever your product or service, you’ve worked hard on establishing your business and finding your market. With a well-conceived multilingual website, you can multiply your reach and increase your potential customer base many times over. Isn’t that worth the extra effort it takes to hire a professional translation agency that specializes in this kind of work and gets the job done right?
We’ll leave with a webinar on best practices for multilingual websites by DigitalGov.
More businesses than ever before are looking to move away from a strictly English-speaking audience. When companies attempt to move into markets in other countries and continents, it’s essential that they translate their documents into the target languages. Today, we’re taking a closer look at why companies should translate their web content into French.
More than just the language of one specific target market a business wants to reach, French is a what we consider a base language — and a French translation is crucial to your success if you want to reach the widest audience possible.
Even though it is a popular language around the globe, many people don’t quite understand how vital French is to their consumer audience. Let’s take a closer look.
Like most things in life, freelancing as a translator is about more than the joy of being able to wear your pyjamas all day. It’s an opportunity to thrive in your career and life. As a translator, you are providing a foundational part of how business is conducted, ideas are conveyed, and how society is able to connect seamlessly.
In short, your job is important. So are you. If you want to build a business that is able to sustain the ups and downs of the market and the curve balls that life will inevitably throw at you, you are going to need more than a passion for language. You are going to need survival skills!
If you want to thrive in the freelance translation business, here’s 9 survival skills to get you there (Pyjamas optional).
1. Get used to variety
A love of variety is a beautiful thing. Especially when your work requires you to go from one topic to another, day after day.
Nurture your curious mind and embrace each new job as an opportunity to switch gears. You might even learn something new for yourself in the process – such as how to disassemble the entire boiler system of a high-rise in case of emergency. (It’s a great conversation starter!)
2. Enjoy and Embrace a Career that Requires a Great Deal of Solitude
As a professional translator, your work environment looks different from many others. Embrace it and appreciate it for what it is. When you are working, work. But when work is done, get out there and build relationships and connect. Read some tips of a fellow freelance translator to deal with loneliness.
3. She/He Who is a Self-Learner Rules the World of Productivity (of Freelance Translation, at least!)
It’s a changing world out there, kid. Discover it, engage with it and most of all, use it to your advantage. Make it part of your regular routine to keep yourself updated on technology and learning how to use it to your advantage. This serves two purposes: it keeps you sharp and it will help you to continue to be more efficient and informed.
4. Remember That the Title of “Freelancer” is Another Term for “Professional Juggler”
Maybe you’re not wearing neon lycra pants while you are balancing daily life, but make no mistake: you are a professional juggler.
On any given day or hour, you are an accountant, professional researcher, project manager, customer service representative and executive in charge of coffee distribution.
It’s messy and awesome all at the same time. Get over it.
5. Embrace the Power of Self-Discipline
The buck stops here. Being disciplined means different things to different personality mixes. It comes easier to some of us than others. But the bottom line is that the only way the work gets done is if, well, you actually do it.
You’re the boss, so act like one.
6. Blessed are the Flexible Freelancers, For They Shall Surely Flex
Your business success depends largely on customers being happy with what you provide. However, how they define that depends on differing factors each time. The time has to be accounted for and the product has to be delivered. Weekends happen, but so do deadlines.
Sometimes late nights or working when the world is sleeping is the only way you can get it done. However, remember that a big dose of Point #3 will help keep you focused and to work with time instead of against it.
7. Money Management Skills
Huge projects are great. So are smaller ones when they are all that you have in that moment. Life requires fixed costs, but the nature of any business is that incomes will vary. This is just as much a matter of money management as it is of headspace management.
Prepare yourself for the future by doing your due diligence in the present. A great accounting program such as Wave or Freshbooks helps you create peace of mind while you continue to build your business. On this page, you fill find other skills needed to become a freelance translator in the USA.
8. Find Ways to be You, Outside of What you do
Tight deadlines, long working hours, and a healthy dose of the caffeine shakes can catch up with you after a while. Do yourself a favor:
Invest time in the things that make this lifestyle worth pursuing and building. Time is your traveling companion, but you have the choice of how you want to spend time with time.
9. Explaining What you do
The world may not understand the value of what you are providing, so get clear on what you offer, why it’s important and how they can make use of those services. For an example of how to do that, check out how we offer French translations at BeTranslated.
Now, get out there and get back to work!
Most people who spend time online have come across Evernote with its green elephant logo at this point — it’s a hugely popular service that routinely appears in the top downloads of every app store on the web. But just as often, I hear from people who tell me that “they really ought to figure out Evernote” or wish they understood it better. Which is a real shame because Evernote gets more useful the more time you spend with it — and as a freelance translator, I couldn’t imagine my life without this essential tool.
Here, then, are ten tips on how to make Evernote work better for any translator. Try them and see what I mean when I say that it’s changed my workflow and completely and increased my productivity immensely.
1. Collect and Store Your Translation Research
Translators deal with vast amounts of research, and the beauty of Evernote is that it can handle just about any type of information you can throw at it. Whether it’s text, Office documents, image files, PDFs, audio or webpages, you can store it in Evernote and easily retrieve it with a powerful search function. There are many ways to import documents: by hand, from your mobile device, with an automated watch folder, by email, and of course there’s the web clipper to easily store articles and web pages.
2. Keep Notes Organized with Tags and Notebooks
Stackable notebooks and a great tagging system make it easy to keep your projects organized. Personally, I’ve learned that it’s most efficient to keep it simple by using a combination of tags and notebooks and rely on the search for the rest. Depending on the size of your average translation project, you could create a notebook per project or client, or simply use one catch-all notebook for your research and use tags for individual topics.
3. Track Clients, Invoices, and Hours
With Evernote, it’s easy to create tables and checklists within notes, so one master note can keep track of invoices sent and payments received — or you can import your invoices individually and tag them “paid” when your money comes in. Create a saved search for untagged invoices to find out who isn’t paying on time.
4. Go Paperless
Life for information workers, including translators, is increasingly moving into the cloud. Evernote is a great way to the completely paperless office by keeping all your important documents online and available at all times. You can set up your scanner to import directly into Evernote — but you can even use your cell phone camera to transfer important paper documents and keep them at your fingertips. No filing cabinet required.
5. Use reminders to stop on top of deadlines
Evernote’s reminder feature lets you create notes that will trigger a notification at a specified time — a great way to warn you of looming deadlines.
6. Keep a notebook for fun stuff
In my own translation work, I often come across interesting tidbits that I want to follow up on later, when I’m not on the clock. Whether it’s a movie, book or website I’m interested in, I simply drop it into the “fun” notebook. Later, when I’m done with the deadline and the project is squared away, I look through my “fun” notes and check out things I would surely have forgotten about without Evernote — like this archive of 98 free Korean movies.
7. Use Evernote in different languages
Not everyone likes to work in an English environment. Evernote is already available in languages as diverse as Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Korean, Spanish, Thai and Turkish. If you feel inspired, you can even volunteer to make it available on more platforms in even more languages.
8. Go Global, Go Mobile
Translators are often also travelers, living between countries and cultures. With excellent mobile apps for all platforms, Evernote is perfectly suited to this lifestyle. Notes are always tagged by location, and by using the Atlas, you can easily search according to where a note was created or updated.
9. Collaborate seamlessly with others on your team
Shared notebooks and the new work chat feature allow you to collaborate with others on individual notes or entire notebooks. It’s an easy way to stay synched and share research, finished files, and cat pictures with your co-workers.
10. Go Premium
Basic Evernote functionality is available for free, but the premium plan (starting at $5/month) offers more upload space, PDF full text searches, offline notebooks, presentation mode and other great value-added features.
How do you use Evernote for your translation work? Which features and tricks did we overlook? Which tools for translators would you like us to discuss next? Tell us in the comments!
Crowdsourcing seems like a smart path to building a more sustainable, fair and interwoven business. The crowdsourced encyclopedia Wikipedia seems indispensable at this point, and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo have helped launch charitable and not-so-charitable projects ranging from new video games to indestructible hoodies and mobile technology for improved public health in rural Africa.
Pre-internet, traditional methods of crowdsourcing can be documented as far back as the mid 19th century, when the Oxford English Dictionary was compiled using selections submitted by volunteers. 150 years later, Wikipedia launched. Eight years after that, in 2009, Twitter began crowdsourcing translations of its interface. Are crowdsourced translations a smart, sustainable and fair option? A closer look at Twitter’s model and some basic numbers may shed light on this.
In 2011, Twitter bolstered its crowdsourced translations by creating the online “Twitter Translation Center“ , providing volunteer translators with facts, forums and more. A look at the Dutch language forum, for example, has a recent post called “‘Twitteren’ is nicer than ‘Tweeten'”, which proposes that the former has a nicer ring than the latter – in Dutch at least. These are the types of nuances important in any translation job – especially on Twitter, which provides fast, viral international marketing for countless companies.
A post on the English language forum suggests that Twitter should devise a Twitter Translator Certificate – with the caveat that there must be a fair assessment, as it seems there are some less than par volunteers in the community. Other criticisms of the model include one from an Italian translator that Twitter retains the copyrights and then uses it for future product development.
In 2013, Twitter finally began investing in the translation of its tweets, albeit not by humans but through Bing’s machine translator. However, less than a year later, Twitter suddenly removed this option and has still not commented or offered a replacement service.
Today, Twitter “employs” 350,000 volunteers as translators. Unpaid, but monitored and assessed on their performances through crowdjudging and moderators, the volunteers translate Twitter products into 48 different languages.
A review of the Twitter Translation Center shows a system that is complex and sluggish and most likely inegalitarian and inaccurate. With so much hassle to accept, assess and monitor its 350,000 volunteers – who work on „only“ 48 languages out of the world’s 7,000 – one wonders why Twitter does not invest in hired human translation for its products.
And even if Twitter restores its basic automated translation option, any company or individual would be smart to hire human translation services for its Tweets, which are essentially each in and of themselves global press releases.
Imagine sitting down to enjoy a foreign film, only to discover that just the first half is subtitled. Disappointed, you head off to the supermarket for a bar of chocolate, befuddled to find the assortments labeled only in Mandarin or Cantonese Chinese. You go home empty-handed and hop on your iPad to download a new game, but when it installs, the directions don’t match the game.
As a customer, you are left far from satisfied, and as any of these products’ business owners, you’re financially doomed. In a successful business model (and perfect world), the entire customer experience needs to be seamless, satisfactory and above all, accessible in your own language.
Online gaming is catching on to this as of late. In September, Casino Tropez wowed the online gaming scene with its decision to translate its entertainment into Arabic. To ensure a full satisfactory customer experience, it is also offering support services in Arabic. Many other online gaming sites fall short of this, leaving players frustrated and looking elsewhere.
Now imagine wheeling and dealing in an online casino. You’re getting good customer service in your language, you gamble with confidence, you get lucky and win a boatload of money – only to realize that you’re unable to claim it because of language barriers in the payment systems. This is what is happening in East Asia, where some of the online gaming market’s biggest potential clientele is living.
As strongly argued in a post on the Gambling Online blog, if businesses want to break into the enormous East Asian market, the entire customer experience needs to be seamless. And a seamless experience is only possible with quality translation.
The blogger specifically laments the lack of easy online or direct ATM pay-out options that protect the identity of the players. Companies specializing in these options such as EcoCard, ecoPayz, Pay Spark and Pay 2 would be wise to get a bigger piece of the online gaming industry by offering their services in Korean and Chinese, for example.
And considering the annual profits from online gaming, any business serving this industry and looking to make a small fortune better ensure top quality translations of their products, advertisements and services. Hint: the forecasted revenues for the online casino industry is set to exceed $150 billion by 2015.