Your customers deserve the same positive, intentional experience when they visit your website, regardless of which language they speak. Translating and localizing your website is a great way to not only reach a broader scope of people, but to also connect and engage with these individuals in the same way you would with your English-speaking site visitors. Although a fully immersive website experience with each page translated into every language you’re targeting would be ideal, most companies cannot afford to make such an investment, especially in the beginning. Fortunately, this isn’t usually necessary. Here are some tips for translating your website effectively, while still keeping your overall budget in mind.
Ways to stretch your translation budget while still delivering an effective experience
Before requesting any translations, it’s important to have a plan. Planning for the audiences and pages you want to prioritize will help keep you aligned with your overall financial goals.
Choose the language(s) you’d like to prioritize. If you plan to localize your content for multiple domestic or international audiences, it may be easiest to handle a select few first. Decide which languages and markets will be most beneficial for your company to reach, and which will provide the biggest ROI. In most cases, you do not have to handle every language you may ultimately wish to target at once.
Often, it’s better to translate to just a few languages at first so that you can learn from these. If there’s anything you’d like to change about the process (on either your end or your translation provider’s end), you’ll know for the next set of languages which will make the process easier for you! It will also allow you to spread out the costs of localization over time, which may be more desirable for your company’s budget.
Reduce the scope of the project if needed. In the same way you prioritize which languages to tackle first, you should also decide which of your web pages are most important. While it’s nice to have a fully translated website in every language, not everything may be relevant for your target market. Choose the pages that will help you reap the most benefits from your investment, and either save the rest for later, or leave them in English, depending on your long-term goals.
Make sure the text you are sending for translation is current and up-to-date. No one wants to pay for the same service twice! If you’re unsure when pages may be scheduled for an update, it may be worth asking the various departments who oversee their portion of your company website if they plan to make updates to their respective pages. If they’ll be updating content in the coming weeks, and if you have a timeline that allows you to wait for any potential updates to be applied, it would be worthwhile to delay the start of the translation project to make sure everything is in its final version.
How to decide what to translate now (and what to save for later)
Localizing your website’s content can be done in stages. You’ll want to decide which pages are relevant for and important to your domestic or international audience and which can remain in English at the beginning.
What should you prioritize for translation? Ultimately, what you decide to prioritize will depend on your company’s mission and vision for your domestic or international reach. But we would recommend prioritizing:
Your home and landing pages
Your mission statement and/or “About Us” page(s)
Any sections or pages that may be considered part of your sales funnel
High-traffic pages that are relevant for your target markets
Since you want site users to have a seamless and positive experience, any pages that allow them to get to know and trust your company, as well as those that help turn them into paying customers, should be first on the list when deciding what to translate.
What can usually wait for later (or just be left in English)? There may be parts of your website that are not quite as relevant for your non-English-speaking audience. These are the types of pages that can either be left for later when you’ve got the budget for additional content, or can just be left entirely in English, depending on your specific goals. Some examples of these types of sections may be:
Product landing pages for products that will not be sold in areas where the target language is spoken
A careers page for local job opportunities
Upcoming local event notices if the market you’re targeting is not local to your area
Things to plan for and consider once your translation is complete
Having your website content translated is a huge step forward when it comes to getting your multilingual website up and running. Here are a few other things you may want to keep in mind when planning your budget:
If your site is updated often, you’ll want to account for frequent ongoing maintenance costs. Your website experience should be the same for all users, no matter which language they speak. This means that if your English content is updated, your translations should be updated to reflect these changes as well.
Make sure your site is set up to accept the sales you’re aiming to funnel in. An exceptional translation won’t do much good if your customers cannot complete their sale. If you are launching products in Italy, for instance, not only should your website be translated into Italian, but you should also make sure your site is set up to accept foreign payments and communications. The shipping and billing section should not request a US zip code during checkout, for example. Moreover, product descriptions must use the metric system instead of the imperial system, and the cost of your products or services should be reflected in Euros instead of USD.
Decide if you’ll offer customer support in the languages of your target customers. If customers browse your site in German, you should expect to receive phone calls and emails from customers who expect to communicate in that language. Determine whether or not you’d like to implement customer support options in these languages, or if telephonic interpreting might be a better and more budget-friendly option.
Offering a positive multilingual website experience is a wonderful way to strike a balance between customer needs and your business goals. Not only will you be able to reach new audiences just by having information available to customers in their native language, you’ll be on your way to gaining their respect and trust, while seeing a return on the investment and staying aligned with your budget.