For many businesses, the company website is the first of their corporate materials that they consider translating into another language. For some businesses, it is the only item that they translate. For others, it is the start of a larger professional translation project that includes everything from corporate brochures to business cards.
Whatever the motivation, translating a company website is a serious business. Websites are the way that companies showcase their products, services and abilities to the world. They have to be word-perfect. They also have to represent those products and services in a genuine manner and in a way that is suited to the target audience.
Professional translation isn’t just about converting words from one language to another. If it was, machines would be brilliant at it (which they’re not, so always opt for human translation and not machine!). Translation has to be carried out sympathetically and with an understanding of the client’s intended meaning. That doesn’t always mean a literal translation, particularly when it comes to marketing materials such as websites.
Localization services are particularly important when it comes to presenting a corporate website in another language. Localization includes analysing the translated copy to filter out inappropriate cultural references and anything that might cause offence or inadvertent humour in the target country. Translators who are able to localize copy therefore need an excellent understanding of the culture and values of the intended audience.
Localization applies to brand names and slogans, as well as the main body of the website’s text. When car manufacturer Chevy launched the Chevy Nova in South America, for example, sales were slow to pick up. A good localization company could have told Chevy that ‘no va’ in Spanish means ‘doesn’t go’ – which might have had something to do with the car’s lack of popularity. Such mistakes can be damaging to a firm’s reputation, as well as its bottom line.
Localization also includes paying attention to pictures. Scantily clad women (or men) are perfectly acceptable in some countries and very much not in others, so corporate website translation must include the localization of images as well, to ensure that no offence is caused.
There are plenty of things to consider when it comes to choosing the first language to translate a company website into. For some companies, the choice will be determined by clear business needs. For others, there will be more flexibility as to which language to opt for first. We’ve examined this issue in detail in this post.
Choosing the right translation agency is key for any business translation project. Machine translation is not good enough for corporate quality, so an agency that commits to only using human translation is a must.
If you are planning to translate your corporate website, check out our tips on how to find the right business translation company. Doing so could save you a great deal of time and effort, not to mention money.
To discuss translating your business website in more detail, please contact Tomedes.