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Common mistakes in website translation

Adapting your website to other countries and cultures can be a challenging task, but well worth it when it is done properly. Here we highlight some common problems that can occur from website translation and localisation when the process isn’t completed properly.

Space and layout

You may have spent months perfecting your website design. But when you translate the content into another language, you find that suddenly you have considerably more or less words than before. This could leave your site design looking a lot less impressive. For example, from our experience a German translation of an English website will require up to 30% more space for copy, while a Finnish translation of the same site may need up to 60% more. Then there are languages like Arabic and Hebrew which are read right-to-left, which will mean another rethink of your design.

Poor translation/localisation

At best you and your business look amateurish; at worst you could cause huge offence and public outrage. Tarnished reputation caused by this can be very difficult to repair. On a practical level, a poor translation could mislead customers about your products, leading to a customer service fiasco you don’t have the resource to handle. Poor localisation is often the result of wanting to cut costs or corners on the process. Using machine translation or bilingual employees can be seen as a quick win but won’t necessarily yield the desired results. Don’t forget – localisation applies just as much to images and design as well as the words used.

Overpaying for translation services

In contrast, if you do want a proper job done, and don’t want to fall victim to any of these previous mistakes then hiring professionals is a logical and positive step. However, many businesses and up paying more than necessary for the service they actually need. We understand that to get a fully-managed process for your whole site in multiple languages can seem financially unviable, which is we always offer a blend of services to ensure you only pay for what you need.

Poor technical integration

On the surface the process may seem simple, but often a technical team can spend weeks going back and forward with translated content, or fixing bugs when multiple language sites come into one platform. It doesn’t need to be that way. Using advanced technology, like our proxy solutions, API and relevant plug-ins, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

Thinking the job is ever finished…

You know that continual updates to your website and content are essential. But sometimes this doesn’t carry over to translated sites, and products, images and seasonal messages on international sites can look outdated very quickly if they are not given the same amount of attention as your main one. Language, popular search terms and fashions are changing all the time, so don’t get left behind in any culture!

And our favourite… Not bothering to translate at all

Yes. Some people do it and expect to get away with it. The thing is, in today’s global marketplace, businesses cannot expect to win custom in a market when their website isn’t loacalised towards it. A recent report by Common Sense Advisory reveals that 75 percent of consumers preferred to buy products in their native language, and more than half (55 percent) would buy only from websites where information was presented in their language. Need we say more?

*Picture credits: JMiks /

Steve Griffin

Steve Griffin edits and writes for the Lingo24 blog. After studying Drama at Exeter University and completing a postgraduate diploma in Management at Durham University, he worked in Marketing & Communications in a global recruitment company for five years, before spending some time as a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. Steve enjoys bringing his creative flair to writing and marketing projects, and has always been a passionate student of language.

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