The challenge when translating a commercial website is that it’s not enough to carry the information into another language. You must also preserve the message.
Something is always lost in translation. The big question is how much. When you use professional translators, you don’t lose anything significant.
Even so, you want to make sure you avoid the following key translation mistakes.
Using (only) automated tools.
Google Translate is useful. It can translate the core meaning of a phrase or sentence. But it’s not aware of the context. It cannot accurately translate a paragraph with a commercial message, especially not from English to a non-Germanic language such as Russian, Spanish, or Japanese. Automated tools can help human translators work more quickly, but they cannot replace them. At least not yet.
Translating your business name, or your trademark products
It can confuse your customers. Use the same English name consistently across markets to make the product more memorable and easier to recognize.
Doing only translation and not localization
Localization entails not only translation, but also culture-aware changes to your website content, layout, and design. Because it presents content in a tone that will be more engaging for the target audience, localization is more likely to increase sales than translation.
Not testing before publishing
A testing phase with two or more beta readers who read the translated content and provide feedback will increase the length and cost of the translation process. But it’s necessary if you want to achieve a top quality translation that will not only convey information but also carry your marketing message.
Not using native translators
A non-native translator may be able to translate your content fairly accurately and capture the gist of your message. But more will be lost in translation than if you use a native speaker. Translation agencies do not always specify if they use native translators or not, so better ask.
Today, when there is so much competition on the web, translation and localization are important. Buy the best translation services you can afford and you’ll make a great investment.