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Which languages should you translate your website into?



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May 19, 2021

Which languages should you translate your website into? There are several factors to consider in making this decision, which we discuss below, but before we dive into those points, it is important to understand the difference between translation, localisation, and globalisation.

As we have discussed in other articles, translation forms only a part of localisation, pure website translation does not consider points such as local calendar structure, currency, and address formats. To accurately communicate your brand and messaging to a new target audience, it is important to translate your website and localise it clearly and concisely.

So, what languages to choose, let us consider these points:

1. Current Website Traffic

Before you choose to translate or localise your website, it is essential to measure its current impact and performance in the target market to measure the return on the investment you will achieve. Some platforms have in-built analytics you can use in the first instance, or you could choose a third-party application such as Google Analytics to gain more information about your audience, such as where they are geographically located and what languages they browse in. This will form a key part in your decision-making process for the right languages to choose.

2. Target Markets

Identification of your target market is probably the most significant factor in the website localisation decision-making process. Which market, country, and audience have the highest demand for your products or services, and are they responsive to online advertising and marketing? Once you have identified the target groups you need to prioritise them to make your final decision. Which of them has the strongest purchasing power? The largest e-commerce infrastructure? And which have the largest growth potential? Additional points to consider are the local restrictions of operating in these markets, specifically local tariffs, taxes, licensing, and regulations on the provision of goods and services. 

3. Competition

A key metric for consideration in localisation is benchmarking your competition. Visit their website, have a look around for function and performance. Is the website just translated or localised to the market? This will give you some insights into the direction they are taking and the level of investment they are making in that market. If the competition has only translated their website, you can choose to localise it and make your website more appealing to the target audience through ease of use.

4. Common Languages

English is by far the most common language used on the internet, but you may also consider some of the other most commonly used languages such as German, Russian, Spanish, French, and Japanese to localise your website into. By doing this, it promotes your website and business as a global entity, communicating consistent messaging and branding and at the same time gives a positive experience to the target audience and increases the target audience base.

5. Design

When translating a website, there is not normally a lot of change to the overall design and structure of a website as these factors are not considered and this directly impacts the user experience of the website. Comparatively, when you look to localise your website, you need to consider the structure and design to accommodate the local language requirements. 

Arabic and Hebrew and written right to left so you might need to change the orientation of web parts, Oriental languages such as Chinese and Japanese are character-based and require less space than Roman languages to convey the same sentences.

There are also cultural considerations to localisation, Japanese websites often use Mascots to support their products, and these form a large part of their websites, but these are not common in western sites as the users are distracted by them and are seen as a detractor to the usability of the website.

6. Costs

The cost of website translation can vary depending on factors such as the level of technical content your website contains, the word count, and the language you are looking to localise too. One factor to this is the availability of the resources required to complete translation, common languages such as English and German have a large pool of resources available and tend to be the cheapest, less common languages such as African dialects are high in cost due to the lack of qualified translators in the marketplace.

Pure Fluent – People and technology to reach a global audience

In today’s challenging markets, we are here to help you go further. To reach more customers and build sales in new markets. We will make sure your website translation and localisation investment delivers.

Find out more about our website translation services.

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