Best Way to Translate a Website:

Your company is aiming to go international. You already know that you need to translate your website and create localized sites. You know which languages to focus on first. The question is how you will approach the translation of your website?

The choice of how to translate a website will affect the process and the functionality of your website and localization project. There are four main choices:

  • Manual file transfer.
  • CMS integration technology.
  • Translation proxy.
  • Outsourced global website management.

Make sure you understand each option before choosing the method that suits you best. 

Manual File Transfer:

Manual file transfer is the oldest and least sophisticated (but possibly the most affordable) method of website localization. All providers are able to handle it. With this approach, companies and their language services partner simply send content via XML or HTML files (and sometimes even Word or Excel) as required.

Manual file transfer can be time consuming for staff and relies heavily on human coordination which then create the risk of error. However, you may decide that this is the best option if you have limited content that you are translating into a few languages. You should also consider this option if your publishing platform is not suitable for internationalization.

If your platform offers processes to automate the import and export of content for translation, this may be a good choice.  

CMS Integration Technology:

If your international needs are greater and you are using a content management system that can handle international processes, you can streamline the process of translating and localizing your website by adopting a translation integration approach. The best translation integration allow you to automate the selection, transfer and retrieval of content directly into your content management system. In addition, they simplify adoption by providing a better user experience in the CMS environments you already use. More advanced integrations can provide additional functionality such as real-time status reporting, in-context review capabilities and dynamic updating of translation memories.

There are two basic types of CMS translation integrations: extensions within the CMS (plug-in solutions) and versions outside the CMS (middleware-based solutions). Whichever method you choose, make sure that it can be supported by different vendors. If you decide to change your CMS, you can migrate your translation process and avoid vendor lock-in.  

An integrated approach to website translation is attractive to companies that regularly create and update multilingual content. Organizations that rely on rapid time-to-market will find these systems particularly useful.

Translation Proxy:

Translation proxy server solutions are another viable method of localizing your website.

A translation proxy is a technology for hosting foreign versions of your website. This eliminates the need for companies to host and manage localized content within their publishing platforms. Translation proxy servers are very attractive for organizations whose publishing platforms do not support localization processes or present content that is not dynamically generated.

A translation proxy allows content text and presentation template text to be centrally localized. In addition, it does not require IT support, as it takes advantage of the current functionality of the site. This method requires no intervention, which speeds up time to market and requires very little additional IT effort. However, there is a trade-off: a translation proxy server is best used when local sites have little unique content, as translated sites generally mirror the original site. 

For clients who do not want to rely on an expensive integration solution, the proxy server, which relies on rendered HTML pages, is attractive. Similarly, customers who are looking for an interim solution before purchasing a full CMS may choose this option.

While most websites require professional human translation, other methods may be of interest depending on factors such as content type, use case and budget considerations.

Outsourced Global Website Operations:

You can also outsource the localization of your site entirely to a qualified provider. This is the best option for medium to large companies, especially those with web development and marketing challenges, or those whose teams are already stretched thin. If you have multiple, content-rich sites and diverse local teams with region-specific needs, outsourcing may be the best option for you. 

Furthermore, outsourcing tasks allows you to grow later by establishing a relationship to build a long-term translation process.

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