Considerations for Supporting Multilingual Website Content

When serving multilingual audiences online, it’s important to consider how you will support content translation to provide accurate information. Whether an automated or manual solution, get our top tips and options for getting started with web content translation.
Paul Shope

C2 works with many brands that often need help translating website content to properly serve multilingual audiences. With over a decade in supporting language translation for websites, we’re sharing our top tips and options for getting started with content translation.

Automated Translation

Among the most cost-effective solutions out there is Google Translate. It’s easy to implement, and there’s no maintenance required to keep up with it. While this may sound like a favorable option, there are two concerns to consider:

  1. Limited styling options - While it’s possible to adjust some of the styling for the Google Translate widget, you cannot remove the Google branding for your own.
  1. Accuracy - Google Translate is an automated tool, so the downside is that it cannot yet replace human understanding. More specifically, it cannot determine the meaning behind the words and choose the most appropriate translation to retain that meaning. This can result in unintentional confusion or a humorous output. At worst, it can be inaccurate or, in some cases, offensive. 

There is a workaround to customize content translation. If your web content includes domain-specific and context-specific terms or phrases, you can utilize the Google Cloud Translation API Advanced, which supports custom terminology with Glossary. Another option is to build and leverage custom translation models through Google AutoML Translation.

Note: if you are using an automated translation service - such as Google - and are not regularly reviewing and modifying translations before publishing new content, we recommend letting your site visitors know that content has been machine translated with your provider. By providing this transparency, customers will understand that content has been automatically translated, and it’s possible for errors to occur.

Manual Translation

For the most accurate and intentional translation, there are manual translation processes and providers. Upon client preference, C2 recommends and utilizes manual translators to ensure that web content is translated into another language while holding the truest meaning from the original written language.

If you’re considering manual translation, here are some items to keep in mind:

1. How many languages will you support on your website? 

Depending on the number of languages you are looking to support will influence the cost and number of dedicated resources you will need to keep up with content translation.

2. Who will be your translation provider?

C2 works closely with several translation providers for our clients through our Continuous Support and Optimization (CSO) services.

3. How often will you translate content? How will the schedule affect the quality of the content for non-English audiences? For example, if you translate every two weeks, will the information be timely enough?

Depending on the amount of content, a translation provider should be able to return content within a few days. We encourage you to inquire if rush service may be available from your service provider should you need a quick turnaround.

4. What will your process be? Who will be responsible for it?

For manual translation, we recommend establishing a routine or cadence. For one of C2’s clients, we have a Translation CSO contract, which allows for the export, import, and QA of imported translated pages every week.

5. What features do you want to offer? Will all pages be translated?

Decide if you want to translate all of your content or just some of your content. Your CMS will automatically display English if other languages are not provided.

6. How much setup time will be required to enable translation?

Languages need to be enabled in your CMS, and settings will need to be adjusted for each language. Page or widget layouts may need to be adjusted to compensate for extra space when other languages take up more room.

7. Do you have images with text?

Images with text included cannot be translated via the same process. In addition to translation issues, text on images also causes accessibility issues. We recommend using CSS to ensure accessibility and the greatest possibility of being able to translate content. If you prefer images with text, you can choose to update images manually as a separate process or leave them in English for all languages.

8. Do you have forms that need to be translated?

Forms also present challenges, both in the translation and in the receiving of data. Depending on your CMS or form provider, the process may be different to enable multilingual forms.

When serving multilingual audiences online, it’s important to consider how you will support content translation to provide accurate information. Whether an automated or manual solution, C2 has experience enabling both solutions to work for a client's unique needs and budget through our Continuous Support and Optimization services. If you need help identifying the best solution and strategy, get in touch with us.

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