In today’s global B2B market, your customers—and potentially, your team—might be connecting with you from anywhere in the world. In such cases, support for a variety of languages is a must.
If you are located and do business only in the US, consider that your customer base is likely to include both English and Spanish speakers, at a minimum. Even between English-speaking countries, you might need to adapt your lingo. (Just ask an American where to buy courgettes or offer a Brit a nice plate of biscuits and gravy, and you’ll see what we mean.)
Don’t Make Google Do It
Think you can rely on Google’s translation capabilities? Think again.
We recently completed a localized Portuguese site translation for a client. Then one of the Brazilian team members found stilted phrasing and odd wording that had the potential for misinterpretation. At first, we were alarmed. We trusted the translator, and we’d put the content through careful review before pushing out the site. What could have happened?
Soon our consternation switched to curiosity. When we reviewed the Portuguese version of the site, the reported errors didn’t exist. It didn’t take too long to realize the problem: The customer wasn’t looking at the actual Portuguese-language site. Rather, his browser had Google settings that automatically translated websites into Portuguese. Unfortunately, Google didn’t understand enough about the context and industry to be accurate.
Inclusive Is Good Business
Regardless of where your business is located, it’s important to give careful attention to where and how your website visitors will be coming to you. A well-localized site
reduces visitor anxiety and frustration;
lets visitors know that you value their visit and their business; and
smooths the path to more conversions.
Support Users in their Native Language
To offer the highest value to customers and to streamline website development and maintenance, localize content, both on the front end (customer facing) and back end (in the CMS).
For front-end localization, the best place to start is by establishing guidelines that support the clarity—and streamline the translation—of your content. Most translators charge per word, so crisp, straightforward writing can help keep translation costs in check. Plus, most of these best practices simply make for better writing.
Guidelines to start with:
Emphasize the active voice, rather than the passive.
Avoid jargon and use acronyms sparingly.
Keep sentences short —under 35 words (under 20 is even better).
Avoid strings of nouns. Be brutal with wordiness.
Standardize your language. Yes, variety is the spice of life, but referring to the same item as a spade, digger, tool, equipment, and gardening kit is much less efficient, from a localization standpoint, than calling a spade a spade every time.
Use relative pronouns (i.e., that, which), even if they sound a bit stiff.
Commit to diversity. If you use sample names (say, for a theoretical example), do you default to John or Jane? Expand your name bank. How about Chan, Amaru, Gabrielle, or Muthoni?
CMS Support Behind the Scenes
Now that you have a plan for creating content that can be localized more easily, it’s time to think about how website admins will work in your CMS. How will admins keep all your translated pages in sync as content is updated? You’ll want to provide back-end localization to keep your site running smoothly.
This is just one of the reasons we love Kentico. With support for Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Chinese, and many more languages, Kentico provides language-independent site structures and multilingual UIs, so users can not only update content, but see the site in the language they are using.
Kentico also lets you define workflow processes in a variety of languages and specify which users can edit which versions. Users can specify their own time zone, as well as the preferred date and time format, to help prevent confusion with coordinated site actions. Kentico also enables smart language selection for site visitors.
Working in Kentico also helps provide a consistent framework, even when working with different cultures introduces challenges.
Considerations you should be ready to address:
Be prepared for some additional design and technical changes to deal with text length and culture differences. Depending on the language, your translation can take up much less or more space than the original English version. For example, in German we’ve seen content double in length and sometimes triple in character count. And you may need to add or change images to reflect cultural differences.
If you work with customers or users in the European Union, you need to accommodate General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance . The GDPR necessitates changes to the way you manage data from the moment of collection to the moment of release. Be sure you have the ability to display consent forms and data management tools to users in their own languages.