Website translation

A large share of all translations is the translation of websites, and this type is the most problematic one. In this article we will observe the process of site translation and focus on two main questions: in what form should a site be submitted for translation and how is pricing justified?

The first thing to be understood is that site translation is more than just the translation of the text content and will cost you more than you think. So think whether you need to translate the site right now, whether you need the site to be translated in full and into which languages you need the site to be translated in the first place.

«Here is the link, we need a translation»

Bad. Very bad in terms of estimating the cost, the work of the translator and the use of the finished translation.

You can estimate the approximate cost of work with the help of our site counter. It is free and will not require additional efforts, special knowledge and will not take much time. However, we recommend using it only for a preliminary assessment. Read below why.

Consider the types of content you need the translation of.

  1. The main text of the page. It's about the text that is originally on the page and is visible to all site visitors. When counting the cost, it will be taken into account if it is embedded in the markup on the server side. But if this text is loaded by means of javascript, then at least our counter will not take it into account. For more information about the limitations of our counter, see the instructions.
  2. Interface. Buttons and site navigation. They are repeated on all pages, and any counter always takes them into account multiple times. And this is one of the main points affecting the estimated cost. By the way, it should be understood that if your site has more than one page, no one will count it manually.
  3. Text, that is available only to authorized users. First, to calculate and translate this text, you need an account on the site. Secondly, with automatic counting, you need to select the text that is accessible to both authorized users and guests, so as not to count it twice. You can't do this automatically and it will take too long and troublesome to do this manually.
  4. Texts of errors and other service messages. This is information that is visible only in response to some actions on the site. The counter does not count them, and the translator may not notice. The task of the translator is to translate the text, and not to search for it, clicking on various buttons on the site.
  5. Descriptions of goods and search results. If you have an online store, then probably the descriptions of the goods are stored in a database. Make sure not only that the translator finds and translates this text, but also that the structure of your database supports the possibility of using several languages.
  6. Tag attributes and text from the image. For example, phrases that are written in the attributes "title" and "placeholder", also have to be translated. The text in the image probably will not be automatically counted, although more often it also has to be translated.
  7. Third-party files. User agreement or mailing text are not an actual part of the site and will not be counted. But, if you decide to translate the site, most likely, you also need to translate these materials.
  8. Non-standard pages. The 404 page, order confirmation or registration page, or just pages that are still in development and therefore there are no direct links to them - these pages will not be found by the counter and, most likely, the translator too.

Surely this list can be supplemented with several more points. But the essence of the problem is obvious - when calculating the cost, part of the content will be counted many times, while the other part will not be taken into account at all. Deviation of cost in some cases can be enormous. And when working on a translation, the translator may simply forget to translate some part of the content or not find it at all. So the worst thing you can do is just send a link to your site and ask to translate it.

Preparation of materials

So in what form should a site be submitted for translation? To begin with, it is necessary to deal with the technical implementation of multilingualism, because this would determine the format prepared for the translation of documents. If you are not involved in the technical works on the website, you should consult your web developer on this issue. Two main approach is the duplication of the website and pasting in a template from the language files.

Duplication of the website

This approach assumes that a separate copy of the site is created for the version in each language, and the text is written directly into the HTML markup. In this case, you can send the HTML-files for translation.

Pasting into the template

This approach is used much more often. It assumes that phrases from the corresponding language files are pasted into a single html-template using a server-side programming language (for example, php). The language files themselves are lists of phrases that are used in the text of the site. These files usually have the name of the page to which they belong, and are stored in a folder with the name of the corresponding language. If you plan to use this approach, then for translation you should send language files.

Regardless of the approach, there is one more file format that you can use for translation. These are ordinary tables, where each phrase must correspond to its translation. This option should be used if you are concerned about the secrecy of your code and are ready to spend more time. This will not affect the operational comfort of the translator, but it will be more difficult for you to work with a ready-made translation.

It is not important whether you provide html files or a regular table. In any way, you will manage to avoid two major problems: incorrect cost estimation and incomplete translation. In addition, it will be much more convenient to work with the output material.

Traps and pitfalls

Individual words

Translating any site, you will need to translate the interface, and these are buttons mostly with one word, sometimes with a short phrase. It is good when these words are traditional for all sites, "Continue", "Cancel", "Make an order" and so on. But it is better to accompany any non-standard cases with a commentary or an example of the use of a word in a sentence. This will help the translator to unambiguously determine the context of the use of the word and translate it, conveying the meaning as much as possible.

Languages of different groups

As we have already mentioned above, the most popular approach to the technical implementation of a multilingual site is the use of language files. This avoids duplication of code since for all language versions a single html template is used. With this approach, everything works fine, as long as you translate, for example, from English into Russian or Italian. But if you need a translation from German to Chinese, you have problems. The length of one word in these languages may differ by 5 - 7 times, which will inevitably lead to problems with the layout. And even if the layout itself can be corrected, the site may still look ridiculous. Do not forget about languages with writing from right to left, as in Arabic or Hebrew. If you are going to reach a really large audience, and you need a translation into many languages of different groups, you should think about combining approaches. Use language files within the same language group, and develop separate templates for different groups. It may even be better to develop a different website design for certain countries.