At this very second, I mean literally right now, you’re online. Yes, I know: Not really a surprise because otherwise you wouldn’t even be able to read these words.
In fact, using a computer, tablet or smartphone, we are online most of the day. The younger generation in particular - the future digital receivers - certainly don’t show much restraint when it comes to being online: Teenagers spend an average of 27 hours a week online and this figure has tripled within a 10-year period. Did you know that 93 % of all purchasing decisions start with an internet search?
Online? Yes, a few seconds ago, right now and again in a short while.
Is your website geared up for it?
We’re online like never before and is your website is really geared up for it? Is it responsive and ready to receive and assist your visitors - regardless of which platform they are using? Has it been built to focus on the target group and the journey they will go through? Do you create opportunities for dialogue with both potential and current customers via chat, contact forms, e-mails and social media? Are your pages SEO-optimised? In all languages?
These are just some of the many elements that you need to consider if you are to achieve success in the digital world. Everything is changing. All the time. So it is time to roll up your sleeves and tune up your engine - otherwise you willl get left behind.
From me to you about website translation...
Perhaps you have noticed? LanguageWire has launched a new website. Starting off in 5 languages - more language versions will follow soon.
The responsibility for the entire content – in all languages - has been on my desk. This means that my role has been ”the orderer and purchaser of the translation". With my twelve years in the industry, as a project manager and consultant, fortunately I have experience planning, briefing and ensuring optimal processes without compromising on the linguistic product, so it has all gone fairly painlessly.
I’m sure that as a purchaser of translation, you would like your experience to run smoothly. So I thought, why not share my experiences, tips and tricks?
So, I’m giving you some good tips, at a level that is not too nerdy. If you have a specific web project in the pipeline and would benefit from some more detailed help, just contact us and we would be pleased to give you further advice.
Planning, planning planning …
It is a bit like preparing for a successful self-drive holiday. It is important to know your destination in advance, plan the trip anticipating any possible bumps on the road and ensure that the engine is well-oiled and tuned before you set off. Then your trip will be fun and fast rather than troublesome and slow.
Process and time schedule
Create an overview and get everyone involved to commit to the project - both in relation to the overall goal as well as the individual sub-elements. Here are some key steps:
- Give the web project a title and set a realistic date for the launch.
- Specify and list all the projects’ sub-elements and sub-deliveries.
- Specify and list resources – both internal and external.
- Outline a schedule for when the various sub-deliveries need to be finished and which resources are responsible for the sub-delivery.
- Involve all your resources - both external and internal, and get approval for sub-elements, deadlines, division of responsibility, prices and budget.
Remember: No matter who you are and how much experience you have with web projects, unforeseen challenges will always pop up along the way. However, you can avoid the biggest blunders by thorough preparatory work and choosing the right skills and resources, who will deliver the necessary sub-elements, and just as importantly, will advise you right from the start.
Is your CMS under control? Or do you need to go out and find one? Either because you would like a new one or because you don’t have one yet.
If you know that your site is going to be localised and maintained in multiple languages, your choice of CMS will have a serious impact on how easily you will be able to work with your future translations. The easier you make it - the faster and cheaper it will be for you in the long run.
How many texts do you need translated - 1, 5 or 100? And do they need to go on your website? Right now, often or maybe even every day? Then a turbo engine is exactly what you need.
Well, it might not be the turbo engine you associate with the car’s engine compartment, but it does the same job - gets everything going at top speed.
The turbo engine in short …
In our world, the turbo engine is the connector. It acts as a direct link between your CMS and your translation partner’s platform. When the direct link has been established, you can send texts directly for translation from your own CMS with just one simple click. And when the translations are ready, they'll be sent back – yes, again to your CMS, where they’ll be implemented directly onto your website as soon as you’ve approved them. This means you operate entirely in your own CMS from start to finish and avoid extra exporting, importing, or even worse, copy-pasting work.
I’ve saved 6,400 minutes.
I kid you not! I reckon that I have saved approximately 20 minutes, per page, per language. Let's work out how much time that makes for the whole project: Let’s say there are about 80 pages of source material, which are translated, approved and launched in four languages. This gives a total saving of 6,400 minutes. 6,400 minutes equals 106 hours,that would have been spent on boring, repetitive copy-paste work.
So, if you, like me, have a sizeable amount of web content to be translated into a number of languages - and with even more languages in the pipeline, there’s no doubt that a connector isn’t just worth considering, it is definitely worth putting into action.
Content: Design, text and images
It is crucial that already under ”process and time schedule” you have allocated the necessary resources for the production of the content and that these resources have created an overview and a plan of what exactly the content needs to be produced for.
Many people are very surprised at just how much content has to be produced for a new website.
You can also use your overview to help create an idea of how much text you will end up with per language – as it is obviously going to make a difference if there are twenty or two-hundred pages of content when you are planning the translations into the process.
Be aware that there are differences in languages.
In terms of design, images and photos, you need to be aware of the text associated with these elements. Finnish and German end up with longer texts than e.g. English, and this might affect whether it works in the layout. Another example is Arabic, which is read from the right and therefore requires a reverse design.
SEO, SEO, SEO… Don’t forget SEO!
If you want to achieve success on Google – not just today, but tomorrow, you need to ensure that your websites are SEO optimised and this should be incorporated into the preparation of the source material.
Review the various content elements, and before you send your text for translation spend a few minutes writing a brief. This is time well spent. The more your Project Manager and your translators know about your text and your goals, the better a linguistic product will be returned to you. I can polish my halo here because I spent time writing a constructive briefing for my translators. I spent the time because I know that it really did have a positive effect on the linguistic product I ended up with and saved me time in the end.
An example of how important a small note in a briefing might be:
On most of the pages on our new website, there is an element containing specific statistics - shown as facts. It has a fixed layout, where the figure is always at the top, and the text always comes afterwards.
If the translators were not properly briefed on this in advance, they might rewrite the sentences and place the numbers inside the sentence. As you can see in the illustration above, this would not work at all in my layout. Before starting the translation process, among other things, I made a note about this element in my translation briefing. This has undoubtedly saved me a lot of hassle.
What can you brief about?
Text, recipient and purpose
- What is the text about?
- What is the purpose of the text? What do you want to achieve? Do you want to sell, inform or call to action?
- In which media is the text to be used? This article is actually about website translation, but if you do have a text that is not web-related, something like text for a brochure or a manual, it is always a good idea to mention this in your briefing.
- Who is the target group and in which markets will the communication be used? Will it be communicated to skilled workers? Or to the man in the street?
Words, terms, style and tone
- Style and tone? Informal, conservative, easy to understand, focus on the technical side etc.
- Industry and company-specific words and terms? Are there specific words and terms that should always be translated in a certain way? Or perhaps not translated at all?
- How free can the translator be in his or her translation? For example: The translator has lots of freedom in the new language version; translator must stay 100% faithful to the source material; translator must stay faithful to the source material, but may use a little freedom to adapt the text to fit both the language and the market.
- Reference material? If you have any relevant material that might help the translator in choosing specific words and terms to define the style and tone, then it is always a good idea to send it as part of your brief.
Process and format
- What happens with the text when you receive it from translation? For example: You publish the text straight away; You implement the text in the layout; You start your internal proofreading process or something else?
- Are there specific elements that need to be taken into consideration? This might be a restriction of the text length or pages with locked text that also needs to be translated.
A video consists mostly of both sound and images, so when you are planning the localisation of a video to your website, it is important that you keep both these elements in mind:
- Should the sound i.e. speech be translated and implemented again as speech in the local language? Or should the present version be kept, but have local subtitles?
- And what about any texts on pictures and graphics? Should these elements also be localised?
The approval process for different language versions can vary greatly. Are you launching a brand new, entire website? Or do you have short texts that regularly need to be supplied for a web shop? They require different amounts and levels of flexibility of internal resources. The number of languages and the size of the company also plays a key role in whether there are any internal language resources already in existence for the task, or if that part also needs to be carried out by the translation agency. Time is of course also an important factor.
Whatever your situation it is an advantage to incorporate the review and approval processes at an early stage in your planning especially if it requires the involvement of others. At the same time, it is a good idea to make sure your expectations are consistent and you clarify what it is that you specifically want the review to focus on e.g. the text in a button. What you do not want them to have opinions on e.g. the button's colour and at what stage in the process you would like to get them started.
Generally, there are two ways of conducting a review of language versions:
- Review and approval as a direct continuation of the translation. Before the language versions are returned to your CMS. If you want to utilise this procedure, the person(s) who is/are predefined need to be part of the approval process before the final texts are delivered to you in the system. In this way you avoid using unnecessary time on coordination, dialogue and implementation. You only receive ready and approved texts into your CMS.
- Review and approval after implementation of the language versions on the actual website. The site is reviewed manually in the actual website layout. The advantage of this is that all the text will automatically be seen in the right context on the site. The disadvantage is that it is a time consuming process - both for the person who has to review it and note any changes, and for the person who has to implement the corrections in the CMS.
My advice is that under ”process and time schedule”you decide what your requirements are in your approval procedure, and at that point you decide exactly how it should be handled. This will allow you to allocate the necessary resources and time.
With shaky hands, over-caffeinated blood and tired red eyes, you can finally press Publish. Breathe a sigh of relief and sit back in your chair. Because if you have got to this point, you have made it.
You can always amend and adjust the tiny issues that will undoubtedly crop up tomorrow, when you will be starting to plan the next step anyway. Ensuring that the site is kept up-to-date in the future.
For now, it is time to pop those corks and celebrate!