iData Technologies Blog

Isn’t Web site translation free?

Posted 5/7/2011 7:44:15 PM by Mark Reichard

The availability of exciting new tools like Google Translate® has caused some people to wonder if there is still a requirement for professional human Web site translation.  The answer is probably best given by the Google Translate team in their Wikipedia post:

Google Translate, like other automatic translation tools, has its limitations. While it can help the reader to understand the general content of a foreign language text, it does not always deliver accurate translations.

As this post suggests, Google Translate and other automated Web translation services are excellent at giving their users a general idea of what a Web pages is about, but they are not only not exact, they are sometimes downright inaccurate.  For example, Google Translate renders the menu text “Energy Taskforce” on one site into Spanish as “Energy of the Force of Work” (“Energía de la Fuerza de Tarea”), from which the real meaning if the link can’t even be guessed.  A good rule of thumb for Google Translate is that any page on which you would be comfortable posting content with spelling and grammatical errors is a good candidate for using only Google Translate without human translation.

Tags: TranslationComments

Options for Multilingual Web Development

Posted 5/7/2011 2:51:54 PM by Mark Reichard

Converting your Website to provide content in more than one language can be relatively simple, or it can be large project that represents a major investment for your organization.  The nature of the project depends on several factors:

What you want to accomplish by adding additional languages.  If are just entering a new market and want a Web presence to introduce yourself, your options and priorities are different than if you need to launch a fully functional e-commerce site to serve a large and demanding customer base.

The technology your current Website is built on.  If your site is based on a content management tool (like WordPress™ , Joomla™, or SiteCore™), your process and options will be different than if your site is static HTML or uses internally developed programming to display content. Internally developed solutions often assume date and number formats, currency symbols and screen text that are not appropriate for international audiences, while the menus and links in static HTML sites are not built to display multiple languages.

How frequently the site is updated and how many target languages you have.  For relatively static sites to be translated to one additional language, a different approach is appropriate than for frequently updated sites in several languages.  It is critical to plan for updates, since a Web site must be maintained and updated in order to be valuable.

Whether you plan to customize site content such as images, colors and icons to be culturally appropriate for each target language and locale.

The availability of Web designers and technical resources with multilingual Web site experience and language skills.  Some approaches to translating your site rely on substantial help from Web designers or IT folks and rely on them to correctly place translated text.

What are the options?

Depending on what you hope to achieve from your translation project, there are usually several options for translating your site ranging from relatively low-cost, entry-level strategies to more robust, fully globalized approaches.  In general though, at each level there are better and worse choices.  The table below summarizes some of these options:

Project Scope

Not Recommended

A Better Approach

Limited.  Appropriate for small, relatively static HTML sites, or larger sites where you need to:

  • Introduce yourself to a new market
  • Provide a limited service for a small but important customer segment
  • Test the waters.

Minimizing translation vendor costs by:

  • Manually cutting and pasting content into Word® documents and using internal resources to manually place translated content in target files.  This error prone and has a high TCO. 
  • Requesting a single, low flat rate on translations.  This misses the large and increasing benefit of Translation Memory.

Minimize translation costs by selecting key content to translate --- don’t request a translation quote for your entire site, including news releases from 10 years ago and information about last year’s trade show.

Leverage technology.  Allow translation vendors to help with file preparation to avoid cut and paste.

Consider a content management solution.

Consider a micro-site in the target language with only key content.

Moderate.  Appropriate for larger sites where:

Functionality such as e-commerce or data-driven applications must be multilingual.

Most site content needs to be translated due to customer demand or legal requirements.

Content changes regularly and multiple authors must create content.

Roll-your-own content management solutions, including things like separate database columns per language, “if/then” logic around languages, etc.  These are difficult and expensive to maintain.

Work with experienced professionals to internationalize your site or application.

Implement best of breed technologies and strategies, such as content management, resource strings and translation memory.

Work with your vendor to implement a system for workflow management of translation requests.

Large.  Appropriate for sites where:

  • Large quantities of content must be translated.
  • Multiple authors are involved.
  • E-commerce or other dynamic functionality is required.
  • Customization of content by locale/language is required.

Creating separate sites per locale -- due to the duplication of effort and lack of central control.

Cut and paste document preparation.

Roll-your-own content management.

A multilingual Web Content Management solution such as iData’s Synapse Publisher™ CMS or SDL Tridion®.

Consider a Global Translation Management system for shared Translation Memory and workflow automation

Tags: Content Management, TranslationComments

Why translate your Web site

Posted 12/1/2009 12:00:00 AM by Mark Reichard

If you're wondering what's involved in translating your site, here's a presentation that covers the topic, including issues of workflow automation and related tools.

Tags: TranslationComments