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We'll soon be working on a new site for a small financial services company who offer quite bespoke and specialist services. They are English speaking but are started to get work from places such as Russia and India.

We're unsure on the best strategy for translating the site. They don't want to translate everything for cost/long term maintenance reasons and because they do business and English so don't want potential clients to think they are native speakers.

I don't think the correct approach is to simply translate a couple of pages and mix them in with the rest of the site. This could be jarring when jumping from one language to another. I was either thinking of a single language based landing page or a couple of pages outlining their core philosophy and services, contact details etc. Their current website developers simply added a link to use Google Translate which I don't think is a good solution, even if mixed with a solid set of professionally translated pages.

Does anyone have experience with translating sites or know of some good resources?

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2 Answers 2

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Correct: This partial translation approach advocated is not recommended. You cannot guarantee what pages are accessed, navigated to, and so on. It is a poor user experience, will generate negative feedback, raise bugs as users think the translated pages are missing and so on. They will feel that you don't care enough about their language to spend the time on and money on it.

If the language of business is English, then how about leaving it in English, but using top level entry pages or the ability to access a page fro a global toolbar in different languages explaining that the site is in English but listing local offices etc in the local language.

Alternatively, research helps:

Consider at a minimum try looking at your IA and what the top level business-related and landing pages are and make sure those translated in Russian and an Indian language (Hindi?). When a user leaves such a page to access another page that is in English, then implement a warning about that.

Use Google Analytics Webmaster or similar tools to see what people are searching for on your site and in what languages and what pages they need translated. But consider this an opportunity too - what if there are lots of people who DO want to search for read in their native language. The evidence is that they are stronger buyers:

http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com/Resources/FactsandFigures.aspx

72.4 percent of consumers say they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language

Definitely would not use Google Translate. Fine for gisting, personal, vacation and non-critical translation generally, but for business the lack of domain accuracy can lead to some unfortunate results.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705371107/Google-Translate-has-great-uses-disastrous-misuses.html?pg=all

Pay for professional translation.

In sort, language is part of UX. Make your investment accordingly. One great resource is http://bytelevel.com/reportcard2012/ (lots of the related information is on the global by design - http://www.globalbydesign.com/ and other websites).

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One common approach used in scenarios where the translated part of the websites is for secondary target audiences is to build a partial localized site only. Instead of a full mirror of the original site, there is a smaller in language xyz version of it that has a reduced set of contents. The advantages are:

  • no full translation and maintenance necessairy
  • content tailored specifically to that user segment
  • possibility to refer to the original website's in-depth resources where necessairy

My personaly experience with solutions like this has been positive, given that you make the correct target audience identifications and the localized version really do from a well-rounded experience by themselves. These two last points can't be stressed enough.

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