Website redesigns have become a fairly common occurrence for most companies, but few consider the opportunity to localize their websites alongside a redesign project.
Combining a website translation project with a redesign project makes business sense and delivers major value for growing companies. Further, website translation services now exist that can seamlessly support a translated website before, during and after a redesign project.
Long-Term Value of Website Translation
With the right solution, website translation projects can be deployed in about 45 days or less. The best website translation services leverage technologies and smart optimizations to dramatically reduce translation costs, too.
This means the spend for website translation is small compared to the budget required for a redesign and can be easily implemented before—or during—your redesign begins.
Website translation services exist that can ensure that your IT team is barely impacted by the translation project. These solutions often operate independently of your website’s design or CMS, which means your site’s structure and supporting technologies can always be updated at any time, and your multilingual site will seamlessly operate throughout the process.
These solutions are future-proofed for redesigns, for years to come.
Controlling Translation Costs During Website Redesigns
The design-related decisions you make in preparation for your redesign can positively—or negatively—affect your customers’ localized user experience. These best practices can help you deliver the ideal UX for your multilingual redesign project:
Determining the Scope of Work
Ideally, offering translated websites generates the best possible UX for your customers. But like most business decisions, the scope of your translated website will probably be defined by budget—which means you may not be able to fully localize your redesigned website.
That’s okay. Launching a fully translated website isn’t always necessary.
Advanced website translation services can clearly define what on-site content should be translated—down to the individual page level, or even specific sections of those pages. Selecting only the most important and relevant website sections or pages to translate can reduce your spend while still successfully pursuing its international business goals.
What to Keep, What to Cut
Once you’ve determined your business goals and budget, it’s time to determine what content on your redesigned site should be localized, and what won’t be. High-profile and strategically important pages should always remain in scope. This “must have” content usually includes:
- Your site’s homepage and landing pages
- Site navigation
- “About” pages
- Promotional sections
- Highly trafficked content
- Conversion paths
And on the other hand, the following content may be less relevant to your multilingual customers and can be excluded from the project’s scope:
- Blog posts, especially those older than 6 months
- Archived news
- Career pages that don’t apply to secondary and tertiary markets
- Pages for products or services not supported in secondary and tertiary markets
CMS Replatform Projects and Website Translation
Migrating your content from one content-management platform to another can be a daunting task. Factoring in translation-related tasks often requires some careful planning. However, if you follow these tips during your replatform project, you can dramatically reduce translation costs and avoid dips in hard-earned SEO placements. Some things to be mindful of:
- Maintain your site’s current URL structure to preserve SEO and any bookmarks, social media, or documents linking to your site
- Preserve markup structure, including metadata, for SEO and translation pickup
- Remember your users and data associated with users
- Don’t forget complex or highly customized data structures such as user data, custom post types, categories, taxonomies, tags and custom field types
It’s also important to share news about the replatforming project with your translation vendor as early as possible. This ensures all parties are well informed about, and can support, your new replatforming project.
Development & Template Conversion
Most replatforming projects don’t involve a complete website redesign, and certainly not a full website rewrite. That’s good news from a translation perspective. This means that nearly all (if not all) of the translatable content has already been translated and exists within translation memory. Those existing translations can simply be applied to the alternate-language site. Great vendors do this at no cost.
But there are some considerations that must be addressed to ensure a seamless transition from one CMS to another. Remember that a true replatform project isn’t a redesign project and migrating from one kind of website template (such as the one you’re currently using) to another (such as a prepaid WordPress template) can create unplanned, costly work for you and your translation vendor.
The Risks of Using a Pre-Built Template
If your organization was simply operating a single-language website, using a prebuilt plug-and-play website template is an easy way to get rolling with a replatforming project. After all, after the template swap, the content of the English (source language) website wouldn’t be affected in any visible way.
But things get a bit tricky when you operate multilingual sites. Since the goal is to provide content and capability parity between the origin and translated sites, it’s critical that many disparate elements—from data to text formatting—properly align on the backend between the platforms.
We believe it’s vital to preserve the same structure of your current website as much as possible as you move from one platform to another. Here’s why:
- Remember, your translated content is stored in phrase- or sentence-length chunks called segments
- Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools don’t see these segments the way people do
- Every aspect of a unique segment is examined and catalogged by CAT tools, including punctuation and text formatting
- This means that common text-formatting HTML tags—such as <strong> and <em>—are in fact integral parts of the segment
- If any HTML element is altered or removed by a new website template, the segment is no longer recognized as translated
- Now your website translation service provider will have to “translate” this content again
This is why it’s really important to manually convert your website template rather than using a pre-made template. Your developers must keep the HTML code modification to a minimum and focus on modifying only parts of the template code that is dynamic to pull data from the database.
This helps address any potential issue that can arise in addressing new content that may need to be translated.
You’ll also want to consider the hosting and platform infrastructure of your new CMS.
Replatforming can be a good opportunity to make changes to your hosting provider. It allows for work on the new platform without interrupting current production. You may want to look for a solution that offers:
- Hosting optimized for your new platform
- Better storage and bandwidth
- Dedicated hosting for more control and stability
- And more
Look for scalable hosting that can easily be expanded as your website grows. Some website translation services offer robust hosting options as part of their solutions.
Ideally, you’ll find something that fits your needs, saves money and scales easily if needed.
How many websites or subdomains are you migrating? Is there an opportunity to consolidate?
If you’re running several sites, take the opportunity to combine them into a multi-site install that shares resources such as users, plugins and hosting, while having the flexibility of different styles, content types and user roles for different sites and subdomains.
3 Considerations for Data Migration and Website Translation
As you move toward migrating your data from one CMS to another, keep these important things in mind:
First, how complex or customized is your content? For instance, do you have different content or post types such as blogs, careers, events, case studies, etc., or do you use custom categories, taxonomies, or tags?
What about custom fields and field types such as grid or repeater rows, image and file uploads, checkboxes, dropdowns, and more? The more customizations you’ve made to your site and how it classifies data, the more control you’ll want to have over the data migration process.
If your site has content or data tied to users on your site, or users associated with the content, consider migrating that content, too. This could be user reviews, posts, favorites, settings, user “likes” and so on.
Often this data is tied to a specific user ID, so be sure that these data IDs are maintained during migration. This way, users don’t lose their saved content … and the content is still associated with appropriate users or authors.
If you wish to maintain the URL structure of your current website (which is important for SEO, bookmarks, etc.), you’ll want control over how content slugs are set up. (Slugs are part of the URL structure that tells from where the platform should load content data and templates.)
Data Migration Processes and Website Translation
Once you’ve sussed out the considerations above and have made a migration plan, it’s time to actually migrate the data. The three common options are:
You can pay a company to migrate the data for you. The upside: it alleviates effort from your team. The potential downside: you have little control and insight into how the data is being structured and organized when migrated. Are IDs being maintained? Are custom sections configured in ways that make sense and can easily flow back into your templates? Will URL structures be maintained?
CMS plugins can migrate your data. Some plugins can import from XML or CSV formats. To support any of your site’s custom content and fields, however, you’ll probably need to pay for premium versions of these plugins.
When using plugins, keep in mind the preservation of user data and how it’s tied to user IDs. For instance, let’s say…
- You have a customized content type for users’ “likes”
- And this activity is tied to a user ID
In this situation, a plugin might not suit your needs. Why? Plugins often auto-assign IDs as content is imported, which destroys the link between user and content. It might not have the ability to preserve the metrics associated with a user’s “likes,” especially out of the box.
To preserve these connections, you’ll want to leverage a solution that grants you more control and visibility.
For the greatest control and precision, you can migrate data on your own—or you can try a “hybrid” approach by using a plugin that’s been customized to preserve the integrity of your bespoke data and IDs.
In either instance, you’ll want to first configure the new platform to your specifications. Set up the custom content types, the custom fields, and the custom categories so the data being migrated has a place to be mapped to.
Next, make sure to populate some dummy data—in other words, make an entry manually that you will not need later, but you need your new platform to have some data to analyze.
If your platform has a built-in export/import functionality, perform an export of this dummy data.
In your current platform, create a template that outputs the data in the same format (typically XML) of the export file from the new platform. Essentially, you’re recreating the export file from the new platform but populated with data—and most importantly IDs—of your current platform.
Back in your new platform, test importing this “export” file. You can test just a few entries at a time and then review and see if your data is being mapped properly. Modify and adjust as needed until your data flows into the new platform as you like. Repeat this for each custom content type.
Website Localization Support for Local Formats & Currencies
Also, make sure your new CMS can display information such as dates, times and units of measure in proper local formats. For transactional sites, you’ll want support for localizing currency units, payment options and contact information, too. This provides a seamless UX and increases on-site conversions.
Legal notices and security banners should also be localized. These website elements might not seem important, but they build trust when engaging new audiences. They also help local customer service teams communicate more effectively with multilingual prospects and customers.
Website Localization Support for User Forms
When it comes to serving multilingual customers, not all CMS databases support the ability to collect “contact us” form information in other languages. Confirm that your database can. If it doesn’t, the database will be populated with unintelligible data. This is especially likely if you’re capturing inputs from dual-byte character languages like Chinese.
When designing your digital forms, also be sure to enable the input of non-Latin scripts such as Arabic, Japanese or Russian. Forcing international users to “Romanize” their personal information (such as like names and addresses) often causes frustration and leads to abandonment of shopping carts and other conversion funnels.
Accommodate Local Fonts & Scripts
Font types and sizes also matter for on-site legibility, especially for languages that use non-Latin scripts like Chinese and Japanese. Choose a font that’s available for all languages you plan to translate into and select font sizes that ensure readability in all languages.
When translating into languages that read right-to-left—such as Arabic or Hebrew—be sure to customize formatting to ensure the text displays correctly.
If you’re leveraging any plugins or translation connectors for website translation, confirm that they support right-to-left languages.
We mentioned word growth in a previous section, but it bears repeating here: When translating text from English to other languages, the content can take up 20% to 45% more on-page space than this English copy. Alternately, the translated copy can take up much less space, if the target language is Chinese, Korean or Japanese.
The side effects of website localization “word growth” can create a messy, amateurish user experience. That’s a bad look for a brand. Tight spaces like drop-down menu boxes are most affected by word growth.
Responsive website design can mitigate some of the risk, but there are other ways to eliminate the negative impact of word growth on your localized website’s UX:
- Build fully dynamic page templates that allow word wrap in any text boxes
- This is different than word overflow, which can spill translated text outside a templated area
- If you’re overlaying text on images, allow “breathing room” around the text to accommodate any length differences
- Ensure that your JS, CSS, and HTML templates have that padding in place
Read more about website translation in our ultimate guide to website translation.
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