"English is the language of globalization and business. It is the most popular language in the world." We used to hear these assumptions so often that it is high time we made sure they are indeed true and found out how many people actually speak the language.
Today, the Earth’s population is approximately 7.3 billion people. English is native to about 339 million people. Thus, only 4.7% of the world's population use English as their native language. If you add those who can only read and speak it a little, the figure becomes no more than a billion, which barely accounts for 15% of the global population. It means that only about 9% of the world's population can express themselves in English. However, this figure is actually quite minute. Especially if you compare the above result with the figures for other UN languages:
- Chinese is native for 1,302,000 ~ 18.6%!
- Spanish is native for 427 million ~ 5.8%
It turns out that there are fewer people who speak "international" English on the whole planet than those who speak "non-international" Chinese in their native country. The strongest markets after the US do not speak English at all. For example, 23 languages are used besides English in the European market and 18% of the EU population speak German as a native language, while English shares its popularity with Italian -13% for each of the languages.
Nowadays, some transnational IT companies receive more than 50% of their turnover from countries outside the US. Thus, it is obvious that the US presence in the global market has significantly decreased.
What does it mean? The US market is limited, as well as any other local market. If sales growth slowed down and if a company has already exhausted its niche in the US, then perhaps it is worth looking beyond them. There are a hundred times more money-making opportunities abroad. And it barely even necessary to immediately take active foreign economic actions. It is enough to translate your website into Chinese, at least, and your audience will already increase by more than a billion people.
Just think! Translating your website into other languages of the world is definitely worth it. Not only will you significantly increase the likelihood of potential clients contacting you, but you will also greatly expand your target audience.
If it is in your language – it is easy.
Perhaps you should limit translation to just the main landing page? Well, that's not really a good idea, because after visiting a localized landing page, a potential customer will definitely want to further explore your site, and if the information is in a foreign language, they will find that difficult and leave. Therefore, we propose to implement the following approach.
- If it’s in one’s own language, it’s easy. Federal Chancellor of Germany, Willy Brandt, said: "If I sell, I speak your language. If I buy, you must speak German."
- When it’s easy, it’s clear. The clearer the essence of the services you offer is, the more likely it is that the information will fully reach the potential customer and make them read on. Otherwise, they would prefer a site of a domestic company or a company with texts in their own, native language.
- If it’s clear, you have their attention. If a potential client sees that the company has done everything for their maximum comfort and readability, they feel respect for themselves, for their language and their culture.
- Attention means retention. Translation will significantly increase the advertising impact of the site, as the native language is not only more understandable, but also much more convincing and emotional, in light of which the information is better remembered.
- Retention translates to a stronger image. A site, translated into many languages, immediately makes it clear that before you lies an international-class company.
Thus, you need a translation of at least English - a language spoken by almost two billion people on Earth. Hold on... ONLY two billion?
Well, yes, 25% of the people on Earth speak English. And 75% do not speak it at all! The key words being “at all"! Now Chinese and Spanish, in comparison with English are much more popular! Therefore, it is often necessary, in the present multipolar world, to also translate into:
Only these three languages will provide you an additional audience of almost three billion readers.
Of course, if you intend to work in Germany, then you need professional translation into German. And if among your potential buyers there are Kazakh companies, then realize: the former republics of the USSR are increasingly emphasizing using their titular languages. And the availability of a Kazakh version of the site can also be a competitive advantage.
I would do it in parts, but I need it right away.
Is a complete translation of all content necessary? To answer this question, it is important to determine the purpose of localizing the site and its target audience. Yes, full localization is the most effective, but not always unconditionally necessary. What can be saved in conditions of financial instability?
Which components of the site should be localized in the first place?
- Interface (or at least basic navigation tools, menus, and buttons) and key texts. It is these elements that give the client an idea of the company's services and help them make an informed decision. The list of key texts includes: a description of products and services, contact details of the company and its representative offices, basic information about the company, etc. It is also highly desirable to post and translate several maximally informative presentations or videos.
- Promotion of a localized site in the various search engines may require additional efforts: you need to make a list of keywords (semantic core), include them in the translator's glossary, make a preliminary translation of meta tags (tags containing information for search engines: headings, keywords, page descriptions) and image text. All these components, although hardly visible to the user, is important for recognition by search engines and is taken into account when ranking a site.
- Another key point that cannot be missed is cultural localization and language adaptation. All languages are different and differ from each other not only in regards to grammar and vocabulary, but also when it comes to the alphabet and direction of the letter. In localization, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarities of right-hand writing in the formatting of text blocks of the interface, especially the writing of hieroglyphs. Sometimes, in order to avoid misunderstandings in the collision of different crops, you need to replace the picture or color scheme. And, of course, we must not forget about the differences in date format and units of measurement.
What can I leave untranslated?
- It is important to understand that the localization process is not a one-time process and can be broken down into several stages. In the first stage, localization of secondary multimedia materials, graphics, non-key presentations, documents in various formats, briefings - everything that is secondary to understanding the essence of your product or services is not particularly important at this point.
- News translations are also not necessary, especially if they are transferred from the old version of the site and do not have high relevance.
- Similarly, there is no particular urgency in translating application forms for consultations on products and services. In any case, it only makes sense to translate them into the languages in which counseling is provided.
"We will go at the same speed – my speed."
Dreams of magical goldfish from childhood are firmly rooted in the minds of many. When you click everything that you want here and now, you stop doubting the expediency of actions and results. However, such omnipotence is not yet available even for modern technologies. In order for experts to successfully localize a site, the customer will not only have to provide the necessary links and list what exactly they want to localize, but also choose one of several options for cooperation with the language services supplier. The good news is that real professionals are always at the ready to provide expert advise and help you to not get lost in the abundance of opportunities.
The fastest, but most expensive options.
- Providing full site access to the contractor will significantly shorten the timeframes of the localization order. Full access involves extracting all necessary files and relegating full responsibility for the formation of the site. When choosing this option, make sure that it does not contradict corporate data security policy.
- Providing a link to the website for the vendor in the absence of your own technical specialists and source files. The specialists of the translation service provider extract everything they need to work independently.
The laborious, but more economical option.
- Providing the vendor with source files for web pages, graphics and multimedia content. In this case, the vendor will return to you the translated materials in the formats in which they were received. In addition to the files, you must provide the available glossaries for translators and your comments on the translation.
"Theory is when everything is known, but nothing works. Practice is when everything works, but no one knows why."
So, the assembly and translation of the site is complete, and you are eager to enter the battlefield. Nevertheless, do not forget that without localization testing, you risk being in a situation where a theoretically ideal product suddenly starts to malfunction in practice. When the site is put into operation without testing, a number of very standard problems are possible.
- Due to differences in text length, localized text may go beyond the desired limits or be cut off.
- In the case of translating text tags, additional elements may appear, which will make the appearance of the localized page not congruent with the original. It is for identifying such problems that large translation companies use automated testing.
- Some materials may be excluded from the localization process, links to which are contained in the original versions of the pages. If they are not deleted, there will be a number of broken links in the localized version of the site.
"Savings do not lie in accumulation, but in proper selection."
No professional company can afford to save on the quality of the product or the service provided. Low translation quality leads to not only a decrease in customer confidence, but also significantly damages the reputation of the company. How does one save money without sacrificing quality and competent selection, and what should one look for?
- Reducing the volume of source texts by removing redundant information and refusing to translate low-value texts forms the basis of your savings.
- The use of translation memory will significantly reduce the cost of translation, improve the style and ensure uniformity of terminology. If the translation company uses specialized translation automation software, such as SDL Trados, higher quality for less money is guaranteed.
- If you are planning repeated routing translation of materials for the site, it makes sense to compose a glossary. This will not only save time for proofreading and editing, but will also ensure the uniformity of the translation. If the company offers you the option to compose a glossary before proceeding with the translation, you can trust them.
- If your material contains graphics or multimedia content of any type - provide them to the artist in the original format. In this case, the specialists will simply copy the translated text and insert it into the original location. This will save time for the designer and will also reduce your costs.
- In terms of reducing costs, it is much more affordable to place subtitles than to completely change the audio track in a video file. Thus, expensive voice-over recording costs are avoided. Prior to contacting the localization company, it is strongly recommended that you conduct a detailed review of all available materials or request them from the site developer.
The middle ground is not always best - or rather, who do you trust?
So, you’ve made your decision: localization! But who is worthy of your choice? There are several criteria for this.
- Compulsory, and most important of all should be the specialization of an interpreter or company in the area in which you offer services. Nobody wants to see such wonders of translation on their website as "automobile package 'without hands'" ("hands-free") or "web camera allows users to imprison objects and people" (capture, in terms of photography). Unfortunately, both of these examples are from real practice and are examples of the possibilities with bad translation software and inept personnel.
- In order not to spend a lot of time on third-party technical support, it is worth paying attention to the file formats the company utilizes and whether they have their own technical specialists.
- The use of translation memory, which will significantly save time and money on the localization of periodic site updates - is another important aspect.
- A reliable translation company always offers a free test translation of 300-800 words. Do not refuse such an opportunity. This will allow you to assess the quality and not waste resources needlessly.
- An attentive attitude to the customer is the visiting card of the company, which never fails. This company is distinguished by the informality and individual approach not only to the project, but also to the customer themselves. Representatives of the company are always interested in taking into account all the wishes of the client.