Today’s websites are more complex than ever. That means that the technical processes required to translate those sites are challenging for most translation vendors.

As we saw in the previous section, cutting-edge technologies such as personalization scripts and single-page applications make detecting translatable website content practically impossible for in-house and most outsourced technical teams. And that’s just one of many technical obstacles to address during a website translation project.

Thankfully, advanced translation services can manage these issues in ways that dramatically ease technical and workflow burdens within your organization or eliminate them altogether. This helps ensure a great customer experience for global users.

In this section, we’ll cover several key technical considerations to look for as investigate website translation services, including:

Internet Speeds in Global Markets: Markets in North America and much of Europe have robust broadband and wireless networks, which puts few (if any) restrictions on how companies should communicate online with their multilingual customers. However, organizations that serve other international markets can benefit from this primer on internet speeds, and how to best engage their mobile customers.

Dynamic and Third-Party Content: Much of what makes many websites “go” these days are highly complex single-page applications, dynamically loaded content and functionality provided by third-party organizations (such as a module that supports e-commerce functionality, or a booking engine for a travel website). We’ll help you understand these complexities and offer a guide to their unique challenges some technical components create, such as error messages and “invisible” database-driven content that can’t be detected by most solutions.

Website Redesigns and Translation: Most organizations redesign their websites every three years, which means at least some part of the business is often redesigning the site, deploying the redesigned site or planning for the next redesign. Adding website translation to this mix sounds risky and expensive, but we’ll show you how to avoid that drama and save money along the way.

CMS Replatform Projects: In the hands of the wrong website translation service, platform migrations can quickly devolve into a technical minefield that can wreck SEO and functionality—and that’s just the beginning. We’ve got a technical survival guide to help you through your platform migration project that offers best practices to look for when you’re considering a website translation vendor (such as supporting local currencies, fonts, user forms and more).

Multimedia Translation: We wrap up this section with a closer look at multimedia translation, and the critical value it provides a localized UX. Then we geek out with some best practices for image and video translation, offer tips for designing translation-friendly website templates, and conclude with a list of must-have skills and software that a vendor should use to perfectly replicate the look and feel of your origin site.

Internet Speeds in International Markets

Internet access within North America is accessible in most regions and available at high transfer speeds. For some companies, this might create the assumption that residents in other countries have internet infrastructures that are similarly affordable and reliable. Not so.

Fixed broadband and mobile internet speeds vary widely in global markets. (And the differences between fixed broadband and speeds can vary wildly within each country, too.)

This should be a major consideration as you expand to serve those markets online. Whenever possible, consider the typical internet activity of the users within the market you’re aiming to serve, and be a bit conservative in assuming what devices they probably use to access online content. This can help inform your creative and design decisions and make your multilingual site more inclusive to customers.

Mobile-First Users

Most people access the internet through their mobile devices. But within emerging markets, where landline infrastructures are less reliable, mobile phones are often a person’s only means of getting on the internet.

Supporting mobile-first users in emerging markets means more than providing a responsive website design. It means reconsidering the use of bandwidth-heavy large graphics and complex web applications , which are popular in more established markets. These can impact the performance of a mobile customer experience.

To further mitigate the bandwidth issue, consider local hosting options and the use of content delivery networks, or CDNs. In China, for example, it’s best to use in-country hosting options and CDNs to improve loading times for Chinese customers.

Translating Dynamic and Third-Party Content

Many newcomers to website translation aren’t fully aware of how complicated it can be to localize the applications and content that generate customized user experiences online. Unfortunately, most translation vendors don’t either, which creates expensive problems for their customers down the road.

Often, this on-page customized content—often powered by JavaScript or third-party modules—is populated from databases that exist outside of a company’s CMS.

Parsing and Translating Single-Page Applications

Web applications powered by JavaScript and other frameworks use English words within their structured code, which most translation vendors’ content parsers mistakenly identify as translatable text (if they can detect the code at all).

When these words are erroneously translated and reintegrated within the localized instance of the web application, the app breaks. This completely derails the customer experience.

Make sure your website translation service provider has the technical ability to parse complex single-page application code and properly identify its translatable text—while ignoring irrelevant text within its programming code.

Translating Dynamic Error Messages

Most contemporary websites feature some interactivity, even if it doesn’t seem obvious to end users. Such interactivity could include:

  • A user signs up for an online customer account
  • They enter too few digits in the “phone number” field
  • The website alerts them with an error message

Often, these translatable error messages don’t live within your CMS. They are loaded from an external JavaScript file that contains dozens or hundreds of similar messages. It’s a string of translatable text that displays based on specific user interactions.

Traditionally, this content is tricky and time-consuming to localize. Nearly all translation agencies lack the know-how to identify those strings of translatable text, extract them for translation, and then integrate them into the translated JavaScript file. Instead, they shift that task on to their customers.

Look for vendors that have the kind of mature technologies that can detect and translate this special content.

Dynamic Content

Most translatable strings of dynamically generated text aren’t visible to end users. This invisible content—which could be hundreds or thousands of text strings—live “off the page.”

Most vendors can’t accurately detect and translate this hidden content. Even worse, their unsophisticated technologies often flag a dynamically loaded phrase as requiring translation every time that phrase is dynamically generated for any and every end user, even if it’s already been translated by the vendor in the past. This sends translation costs through the roof.

Technology-first translation vendors can successfully mitigate this issue and ensure that you’re charged only once to translate content, no matter how many times it’s used online or off-site.

Third-Party Functionality

The modules you use for special on-site functionality and UX must also be localized for multilingual customers. Translating this content is challenging because these modules hail from third-party providers. It’s stored and loaded from servers beyond your control.

This functionality could include:

  • A ticket or reservation booking engine
  • Interactive product search functionality (to find SKUs and detailed product info)
  • E-commerce or checkout experience

These are all critical to the customer experience. But traditional agencies’ inadequate technologies can’t translate this stuff. This often shifts the burden onto the customer to solve.

It’s possible to mitigate this shortcoming by purchasing white-label modules that allow you to operate different instances and localize content into any languages you wish. But this dramatically increases cost and effort, since you’ll oversee a complex and error-prone translation workflow. There’ll be technical customizations and integration, too.

As you investigate your website translation service options, make sure to ask prospective LSPs how they handle the tricky task of identifying, extracting, and translating and re-integrating this content.

Read more about website translation in our ultimate guide to website translation.


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