That sinking feeling
We have all been there. There are some dodgy links and a spammer has managed to input Japanese pictograms into the comments page. The image of tanned executives high-fiving each other downloaded for free to illustrate the corporate culture of success is completely out of tune with what really goes on in the office. The teenage friend of the receptionist’s neighbor who did our website is travelling through Tibet and only he knows how to change stuff. Not only that, but we now have doubts about how fluent his girlfriend was in Spanish. She did the translation of our Argentinian offer and had a bash at Portuguese with the help of Google Translate for our biggest clients in Brazil and managed to call them “w.nkers” in the process instead of “friends” . We will make a better job of it next time, we say. Only we know we said that last time too.
Over the last year Lacrosse toured Poland talking to exporters on how to improve their marketing materials for the UK to the extent the potential clients, suppliers and investors won’t just titter into their hands about them. There were a lot of delegates who had translated materials into a number of languages. One company had had their Chinese website checked twice. Some companies were market leaders with an international presence. Some companies did all their translation via Google, with disastrous consequences. But the majority were companies who had entrusted their English version to non native speakers and knew there were errors but couldn’t face the effort of correcting them, mostly because they feared what they thought would be a large cost involved in doing so. The translator had got the technical elements of the text right and it was just about readable, so they left it at that.
Evidence suggests however it makes a huge difference to how foreign clients perceive a company .
What are the costs of putting it right?
Overcome your lethargy and take a look.
This is the first step. Get an audit of the language quality from a native speaker of each language you have on your site. It need only be a paragraph of each one and the reviewer will give you an idea whether a lot of work is needed.
It is not a big IT project
The whole website does not have to be reworked. If you work with a good translation firm they will be able to copy the text directly from your website, rework it linguistically and send you a file with the corrected version which can be uploaded by your IT people without any additional formatting .
It need not cost a fortune and it may make you money.
You already got a translation, right? And you did read it, so if it is not completely unintelligible, it might not take a whole lot of work to put right. Proofreading is usually charged at an hourly rate. Such things as figures and graphs are probably OK, so it may only take 4-5 hours of work.
What a reviewer might tell you- transcreate rather than translate!
If you have engaged a partner who values the relationship with you, they may give suggestions about the text itself and suggest you need transcreation rather than translation. Your website may boast that your company is the best supplier in your local region and give examples of projects which are very specific to your local market. However, an international website needs to appeal on an international level. If it is a localized website, eg for the Spanish or Czech market, it needs to appeal to local tastes and convince clients you know that market. Your special offer for Children’s Day on 1 June that goes down well with Polish and Russian clients will fall flat in the UK as they don’t celebrate that holiday. It is also worth pondering whether you are able to deal with leads generated from your foreign language website. If you translate into Chinese, you might get queries from people expecting contact from people in that language. Will you be able to deal with such enquiries or will you have to engage outside help? There are answering services who can cope with such tasks and their support can be integrated into your website. Clients may be more inclined to phone from Italy or Germany if they can do so via a +39 or +49 direct line. This is cheap to arrange.
Once a foreign language website has been translated, many companies opt for an in-country review of the website before launching it. This is the acid test of whether the language and market approach of the website is appropriate for end users. Many gaffes which are not picked up previously can be detected at this stage. Don’t forget, when the original version of the website is produced, it passes through several stages of review before being passed on to the translator. In many cases the translator is then given such a tight deadline to produce their text that there is no time even for a second opinion. It is no surprise, therefore that mistakes like the above are made. To avoid this, engage your translation partner early on in the project to give them time to produce a website that will win you clients.
Translation doesn’t stop at your website.
In order to keep your contact with your clients lively on an ongoing basis, you should also have blog entries, social media posts and company news in the various language versions, which means you should plan a budget which will cover ongoing updates, which should be translated just as well as the basic text. Blog and social media entries are often picked up be search engines so they are just as visible as your website.