English may well be one of the most widely spoken languages in the world but it is short-sighted for companies operating in different markets across the world not to translate their web pages into local languages. Even for companies operating in the domestic market, they may attract more customers if they offer the chance to browse their website in a variety of international languages. However, there are several considerations when translating a website.
Development. The best method of producing a well-translated website is to develop any international or translated versions alongside the English version. Doing things all at the same time enables considerations such as colour symbolism and cultural differences to be taken into account at the planning stage, rather than having them cause a problem at a later stage. Multilingual web design can be slightly more time consuming initially, but may save time in the long run.
Space. When translating a website into a variety of languages, it is important to bear in mind that text in some languages will take up more space when translated than others. Leaving plenty of space around text on website pages can make the task of translating at a later date more straightforward. Some languages, such as Arabic, are read from right to left as well as left to right, and this has to be taken into account when designing the layout of pages.
SEO . Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the term used to describe the marketing techniques applied to ensure that a web page ranks highly on a search engine. Identifying keywords in English is relatively straightforward, but doing the same thing in multiple languages is more challenging. Foreign language web marketing requires more effort to identify keywords and ensure that these keywords are properly used on web page copy.
Forms and Responses. If a company has a website built in a foreign language, and is following other web localization principles to make the company’s products more accessible, then it is good practice to allow customers to fill in forms, send emails and contact customer services or the sales department in their native language. Some companies handle these responses in-house, whereas smaller firms may find it more economical to contract this out to external specialists.