The Ultimate Guide to Quality Website Translation

Using Localization to increase customer engagement

Your Website Connects You to Your Clients

This eBook is for bloggers, ecommerce shops, non-profits, medical providers, health companies, educators, and pretty much anyone who takes advantage of the world wide web to communicate to their non-English speaking customers.

We're going to take you through the whole process of translating your website. We'll walk you through the things you can do to ensure quality during planning process, resource assignment, file preparation, production, and of course, quality assurance.

Table of Contents

Why Translate?

Translation will Increase Your Customer Engagement

  • As of 2015, only 6 percent of the internet is in English. The rate of non-English pages online is rapidly expanding.
  • People have a strong desire to look at content in their language. Providing content in the language of your target audience is not just a nice convenience, it's actually good business.
  • Did you know 75 percent of people are more likely to purchase something in their native language?
  • Even if you primarily serve markets within the US, 1 in 5 Americans speak English as a second language.

If you really want to connect and communicate, providing translated content is a smart way to go!


Determine your Strategy for Connecting to Non-English Speakers

Find the Right Strategy in Your Budget

I know what you're probably thinking. . .translation sounds really expensive. It can be, but it definitely doesn't have to be. Maybe you can't afford to create a complete site in Spanish, but you can still get your critical information out to your clients in their language. Here are a few ideas that you could use on your site regardless of the budget:

Transcreate the site $$$$

This is the golden standard. "Transcreate" basically means you throw the English source text out the window and create the target language site specifically for that market. There are a lot of reasons to do this. Clients love sites that have a local feel. Using culturally appropriate graphics and appealing color schemes that are custom for the target audience. Obviously this is the most expensive option since you would be creating another site. 

Localize the Site $$$

Localizing a website would involve not only translating all the words from the source to the target language, but converting graphics and images to culturally appropriate files.

Translate Important Pages $$

Use google analytics to determine which pages are the most viewed with the most important information. Translate only those

Create Translated Landing Page $$ pages.

Create a single page in the target language with a simple call to action (i.e. call, complete form, email, etc.)

Use a Machine Translation Tool $ or Free

Ok, I'm not a huge fan of relying on computer generated translation, but the reality is, google or Bing translation tools can be helpful in giving the "gist" of the site.  Check out this tool if you're interested in this option: Trans-O-Matic!

Create Online Content that Translates

Your Online Content Makes a Difference

This section lists just a few things that can affect translation and quality localization when creating your content. Note - Depending on the complexity of your site, you may need help from a Localization Engineer or Desktop Publishing person (see section “Build a Quality Team”).

Files Types

There are two main files types that you have to think about for translation:

  1. The files that contain text (from your Content Management System, .docx, .pdf, etc.).
  2. The files that contain graphics (.jpg, .png, etc.)

To start your translation project, you will need to extract these items.


In most cases, you can add files directly into a Computer Aided Translation tool. These tools are great for keeping the formatting and tags in place for the translation process. Our tool of choice, WordBee supports almost every type of text file, including HTML and other coded files. It knows the difference between text and code and separates it.  That way the translator will focus only on the words.


Do yourself a favor, avoid using words inside of graphics. Sometimes it's unavoidable (like logos). In that case, you will have to extract the text strings and then have a Graphics professional integrate the text back into the format. Remember, depending on the target audience, you may need to change the graphics to make sure they are culturally appropriate.

Videos and other Media

Many websites have other media integrated. There are different approaches to how to localize these aspects. It's important to evaluate the site and determine how you will localize. 

Other Best Practices for Content Creation

There are a few things you can do to make your project a success. Like any big project, the more planning and decisions you can make up front, the more it will save you down the road.

Create term list/glossary/style guides

One important tool can be to create a term list of frequently used terms in English as a reference for the translation team. A translated glossary may also support the accuracy of the translation, especially if you have specific terms (like medical). These guides can be used inside a Computer-Aided Translation Tool so your translators will know to use those terms. Remember, translators charge by the word! Don’t pay extra for words like “submit”.

What is Localization Quality?


Translation mistakes can be hilarious!

There are so many stories of brands that skipped quality checking the translation and have become legends. There's Chevy's Nova that translated into Spanish "no va" means "doesn't go" . There is Kentucky Fried Chicken's "Finger Lickin' Good" that was translated to "Eat Your Fingers Off". There's the "Got Milk?" campaign that was translated into Spanish "Are You Lactating". I could go on!

These gaffs are laughable, but also can be costly and potentially have the opposite effect that you are trying to achieve by translating in the first place. In most cases, you do not want people laughing at your brand!

Quality Steps for your Site

The following lists gives you a few guidelines that will help with quality on a tight budget.

1. Edit/Proofreading

Any translation over 100 words should have a second linguist to review it for any language-related issues. They can catch spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and ensure that the overall meaning of the translation matches that of the source.

2. Quality Assurance (QA)

 Many times issues are introduced when the translation is integrated into the site. Ideally, a linguist who natively speaks the target language will have the chance to review the site and look for these types of issues (see section “Building a Quality Team”):

  • Do the hyperlinks still work correctly?
  • Do the images appear as expected?
  • Are the images appropriate for the target culture?
  • Do the menus work properly?
  • Is there consistency in the terminology?
  • Is the language appropriate in context?

3. In country review

Depending on the content, you may opt to have someone who resides in the target country to spend some time on the site for a final approval.

4. Community Translation

Many social media sites use "community translation" or "crowd-sourcing". This is a great way to provide a translated site at a low cost. It works great when you have a highly active global community (like Facebook). There are some tools you can set up that will enable this. Make sure you have a good strategy before you embark on community translation!

Quality Tools

There are several tools available that can make for a higher quality translation:

Spell checker 

MS Word allows you to download spellcheck and proofing tools in almost any language.

Computer-Aided Translation (CAT)

Tools like Wordbee have Quality Checkers to help catch common issues. Connects content to Translation Memory and Glossary Databases.

Google/Bing Translate

Double check the gist and meanings using Google and Bing Translation Tools. (Note, we do not recommend using these tools alone to create quality translations).

Building a Quality Team for Your Website Translation Project

One of the best things you can do to ensure good quality is to select the best people to support your project.

Your team can make or break a translation project.

Whether you are outsourcing the whole project to a vendor or if you choose to do one or all of the tasks in-house, it's good to know the personnel needed to do a good job. Although there are some variations, as a general rule, a website translation project will need the following positions:

Project Manager

The PM will oversee the whole project from start to finish. They are usually a single point-of-contact for the client. Generally, they assemble the team, provide instructions to linguists and make sure the project stays within budget


The Translator does the initial translation of the text. They will review the source document and convert the meaning and tone into the target language. The translator usually will work in a Computer-Aided Translation tool that only focuses on the text of the website.


The editor reviews the translated text, usually inside of the Computer-Aided Translation tool. They will correct grammar, spelling, and other contextual errors to ensure good quality from the Translator.


The tester actually reviews the translated version in context as a website. They will compare against the source website and ensure that the quality of the target language is as good (or better) than the source.


The DTP (“Desktop Publishing”) or Engineer has the technical know-how to update graphics or fix bugs in the software.


The qualifications of the team you will use might vary depending on the subject matter. Regardless, it's important that your linguists have native-level skills of the target language.

How to Find Good People

It may seem like good linguists are hard to find. Fortunately, we have solved the problem of finding qualified linguists with the experience you need. By subscribing to "", you can connect to qualified linguists for almost any project.

Using LinguistLink

Once you're set up in LinguistLink, you will be connected to talented linguists who support the languages you need. You can set up a project and propose to qualified resources. You can rest assured that the linguists are qualified and have the proper tools available to them for the translation of your website. Schedule a demo with me right now and I'll show you how it works.

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