Thinking of going multilingual with your website?

Whilst the MT route with its promise of low-cost, high-speed translation is undoubtedly appealing, not having a human involved in the translation of your website would be an oversight. Only human translators have the cultural savvy and expert knowledge to guarantee your website delivers your organization’s message in new languages. They understand how to make sure your website appeals to a local audience and they should play a key role in the translation of your global online content.
Multilingual Website

Post-editing machine translation could be the solution

Your website is a shop window into your organization. No matter the size of your business your website showcases what you do and how well you do it. It helps your customers find you, communicate with you and buy from you. It tells them who you are and what you stand for.

In short, your website is important.

But hey, you probably already know this and, in all likelihood, you’ve invested significant amounts of time and money into making sure your website does all of the above. Every reason then, not to neglect the people who visit your site but who speak a different language.

But my website is in Englishsurely the majority of the online world understands English in 2021?

Well of course English is widely spoken but the number of other languages in the digital universe is growing. English only makes up just over 25% of languages used on the internet and the countries with the highest number of internet users have, for the most part, other official languages.

The key takeaway here is that for 75% of online users, their preferred language isn’t English.

Why multilingual?

There are plenty of reasons your organization might need its website in different languages.

  1. Offering a website in languages other than English – or one principal language – is obviously important if your business is seeking to expand into new markets. Giving potential customers the possibility to get information and navigate your site in their home language is an effective way to nurture their interest and fidelity.
  2. If you rely on ecommerce sales, ignore language at your peril. It has been consistently shown that website users are more likely to complete a purchase when the buying process takes place in their own language.
  3. Perhaps the local area you market to has a sizeable proportion of the population who don’t use the language your website is written in. To gain their trust and hopefully their patronage, you might consider translating your site into their language.
  4. In commercial terms a multilingual website will help build your brand image, boost SEO and make you stand out from your competitors. Even though SEO can be complex, investing in a strategy for new languages will be highly beneficial. On a basic level, careful keyword research and providing relevant and high-quality content in new languages will strengthen your website’s SERPs in other target language markets. In other words, you’re more likely to get seen by your potential audience.
  5. You might also consider translating your website if you provide important health or wellbeing information. The pandemic has shown us the power of language, particularly in the digital sphere and providing vital health information in as many languages as possible has been an ongoing priority since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak.
  6. Similarly, your institution might communicate information for refugees or minority groups within your region. Perhaps you offer housing advice, legal help or educational services. Or maybe you want to attract tourists and need to speak to them in their own language.

Whatever the size of your organization, creating a website that serves your users, both current and future, in their preferred languages is not just an option, it’s essential.

What’s the best way to translate a website?

A quick Google search throws up plenty of ‘helpful’ guides to translating your website. Many of these suggest using the now familiar online machine translation (MT) engines and make it sound as easy as 1,2,3.

Whilst the MT route with its promise of low-cost, high-speed translation is undoubtedly appealing, not having a human involved in the translation of your website would be an oversight. Only human translators have the cultural savvy and expert knowledge to guarantee your website delivers your organization’s message in new languages. They understand how to make sure your website appeals to a local audience and they should play a key role in the translation of your global online content.

But it’s hard to ignore the advantages that machine translation brings, especially if you have many pages of ecommerce descriptions and user-generated content to translate. Increasingly a hybrid form of translation is being adopted, one that merges human and machine and takes the best from both. Using humans in tandem with machines is known as post-editing machine translation and offers a dynamic option which could work for your organization.

We’ll get to that shortly but first, what’s the deal with machine translation?

How reliable is machine translation?

With the development of machine learning and the escalation of artificial intelligence systems that can mimic human behavior, the manipulation of language by machines has become more sophisticated. Machines are digesting and learning from vast amounts of data and rather than being programmed to act a certain way, they can now to an extent, teach themselves. Natural language processing (NLP), a branch of machine learning, powers many aspects of our everyday language technology. Chatbots, search engines, voice assistants and grammar checkers to name but a few.

Machine translation is also a top application of NLP and many of us use it daily via the well-known and ubiquitous online MT engines. These offer rapid, large scale and less expensive translation. However, you don’t have to look very far to find hilarious but often worrying MT mistakes. Whilst these engines have advanced significantly in recent times, they still lack human common sense and perhaps most importantly for translation, the ability to understand context.

For these reasons it’s wise not to ask too much of machine translation. For certain tasks it’s a really useful tool, but for marketing and sentiment-driven content it won’t be able to match a human creator. However, when used alongside human specialist editors, machine translation can be a cost effective and efficient addition to the translation workflow.

Post-editing machine translation – a win win?

Post-editing machine translation has become part of a professional translator’s skill set. It involves them reviewing the MT output for error and cultural misunderstanding and combines the speed and cost benefits of machines with the unique expertise of the human translator.

Although light post-editing of machine translation may be preferred when the content is long and repetitive or perhaps only required in-house or as a ‘gist’ document, for some customer-facing material a full post-editing service may be advisable. This will ensure your texts read and appear as if a human translator had worked on them from scratch and guarantee your message gets across in other languages.

t’works offers a full post-editing service for machine translated material and makes certain that your company’s style, terminology and tone are accurately communicated. We eliminate any inconsistencies from the machine translated text and check for local readiness. Above all, we work with you from the outset to determine a tailored solution for your company’s goals.

WordPress and translation

WordPress is now such a popular choice for website management it’s a great place to start when looking at how a human/machine combination works for creating a multilingual site.

Millions of websites use a WordPress platform for their content management and WordPress is the most popular system on the web, powering nearly 40% of all sites. The next most popular, Shopify hosts just over 3%. WordPress is adaptable, user-friendly and makes building websites easy. Hence, its position as first choice.

Using a plugin for WordPress is one of the most efficient ways to add translation as it streamlines the process and provides straightforward collaboration between your teams, the translators or editors and the content.

In our experience here at t’works the best plugin for developing and managing the translation of a WordPress website is WPML. The WPML plugin is a fast and simple way to produce a multilingual website and offers flexible translation choices.

WPML gives access to a selection of automatic machine translation tools, as well as glossaries, a spell checker and translation memory, and can be set up to incorporate professional language reviewers into your workflow. You decide whether you prefer to automatically translate certain pages or your whole website and if some content may be better suited to human translation from the outset. In any case, whichever combination you choose, WPML is a versatile solution.

t’works combines technology with human know-how

The companies that form the t’works group have many years of collective experience and expertise when it comes to website translation. We are constantly adapting our service offering to include innovative technology, with the aim of providing the highest quality language services and best value solutions to our customers.

If the WPML plugin is the right choice for your organization, t’works has the linguistic and technological expertise to help you optimize this choice.

At t’works we make global easy. To find out more,

Your personal contact person

Sebastian Schebler

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay up to date on our events and projects with our newsletter.