You might have been a little surprised to come across this title on my blog. After all, as you probably already know, I am (amongst other things) a professional translator. So, you’d be quite within your rights to wonder why I’m telling you not to translate your website.
But I’m not saying that you shouldn’t create a version of your website in a foreign language. Quite the opposite, in fact. As long as they all make sense for your business, then I’d even go as far as to say that the more languages, the better.
What I am saying is that it might not be translation per se that you actually need. Let’s take a closer look at why.
What is translation, anyway?
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a text in a source language into an equivalent text in the target language.
Basically, the aim of translation is to communicate that meaning as accurately as possible and stay true to the original. That, more than likely, isn’t going to be the best strategy for your website.
Transcreation is often a better option than translation for websites, especially when in the hands of an experienced SEO copywriter. Transcreation is a technique most often used in marketing and literary translations, which places the emphasis on communicating ideas and can stray much further from the original text.
A good example of transcreation is slogans. Slogans are there to provoke a certain reaction in the reader, to make them feel a certain way and, probably, want to part with their money, and they almost never translate literally. A transcreator understands the cultural contexts of both languages and can recreate the feeling you’re trying to illicit, potentially using words with a completely different meaning.
But while transcreation might play a role in the design of your website in a new language, on its own it’s rarely going to be enough.
Why might that not be enough for your website?
Take a look at your website to refresh your memory. Would that text, either translated or transcreated with exactly the same content and design, work for the market you’re looking to target? Nine times out of ten, that won’t be the case.
The concepts you discuss might not translate well, but on top of that there will be all kinds of other changes you need to make for a website to hit the right note.
You might need to reconsider the content, the information included, the pricing, the design, the logo, the colour scheme, the images, any video content… the list goes on.
The best website translations aren’t always translations at all. They involve developing a whole new strategy that takes into account and respects the characteristics and quirks of the new target market.
The best translations aren’t an afterthought
This might not be what you want to hear, but if you’re serious about expanding into a foreign market or foreign markets, then it’s better that you consider it now, rather than further down the line, having already parted with large sums of money for a straight-forward website translation.
The best way to create effective sites in multiple languages is to start from scratch, creating a strategy for a brand-new website that will be in multiple languages from the word go. That way your content will be created with translation in mind, making the job far easier.
Or, you can hire bilingual copywriters that will create the content for each language directly in said language.
If you’re already happy with your existing monolingual site, on the other hand, and want to hang onto it, you’ll still need a full, overarching strategy for the new language. You’ll need to consider all aspects of the site, down to the colours used for the call-to-action buttons.
No matter how familiar you might be with the new target market, hiring a cultural consultant is a fantastic investment, as they can advise you on your strategy and draw your attention to potentially problematic things that would never even have occurred to you.
If you’re going to create a site in a different language, then make sure you do it properly, and it’ll pay dividends. In case you need some guidance, I’ll be more than happy to help. Set up a call with me and we’ll discuss all your concerns and come up with an effective strategy for your business.