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How to translate a website professionally

Having a multilingual website is a non-negotiable when it comes to growing your business success. Why? Because a person’s online experience is always the best when browsing in their native language. And they are more likely to make a purchase or book something as well. So how do you translate a website to get the best outcome for your business? Here are the five most common ways to translate a website:

5 different ways to translate a website

The key question for any website translation project is: Which method or format do we use to extract the text out of your content management system (CMS) and then insert the finished translation back into it? Depending on your CMS, budget and expectations, there are various ways of carrying out the translation process.

  1. XML/HTML export and import from your CMS There are many different content management systems, such as WordPress, HubSpot, Joomla or Drupal, to name just a few. This automated method is straightforward but does not always guarantee that all of the text will actually be exported and translated, since this depends on the export’s settings being correct. Be aware that there are also a few CMS that do not have an XML or HTML export/import function.
  2. Plugin-based translation Translation plugins can make your life a lot easier. They not only help with exporting and importing text but also with managing your translations once they are finished. Similar to the existing CMS, there are a variety of free and paid plugins at your disposal. This is a cost-effective solution with a low error rate. It is also particularly suitable if you have several different languages because many plugins are available in numerous languages and can also be configured for new language combinations.
  3. Via translation proxy service (TPS) This method is an ideal solution – as long as the translation mirrors the source text, i.e. the texts say exactly the same thing in both languages. When using a TPS, copies of your master website are made and translated. All visitors to your website view the same content displayed in the language of their own country. This solution only works if what is relevant in one language is also relevant in the other languages. This means that no country- or region-specific content can be added to the individual languages. A big plus, however, is that this solution can provide automated reports about changes to the master website. Missing or new content can easily be detected and sent for translation. This ensures that all your content is always up to date – in every language.
  4. Via an API in your CMS API stands for an application programming interface. This solution essentially enables two endpoints to communicate and exchange data with each other. It is an ideal workflow for businesses that need larger text volumes translated on a regular basis. The texts to be translated are uploaded with a simple click in your website system, are translated directly by a professional translator, and then inserted correctly back into the CMS. Processing costs are reduced this way, and potential sources of error are eliminated.
  5. Copy + paste from Word or Excel This method requires a great deal of manual labour, which is time-intensive and liable to mistakes. The correctness and completeness of the texts depend on one of the most error-prone sources of all – humans. The only advantage of this option compared to the other methods is that no additional tools or programmes are necessary.

Avoid potential problems: One method that we don’t recommend is a translation carried out directly in the CMS. This option is inefficient and is prone to errors. You cannot take advantage of terminology solutions such as translation memories or termbases, cannot track changes or corrections, and – most dangerous of all – you have to hand over access and/or administration rights for your own website to a third party, which can be a data security hazard.

How much does a website translation cost?

The million-dollar question: How much does it cost to translate a website? The unsatisfying answer: It depends.

It is however relatively simple to carry out a calculation to determine the price of your website translation. There are three defining factors:

  • Translation method: Which of the five methods above is the right one for your website?
  • Target language: Into which language or languages do you want to translate your website? Certain languages are more common and straightforward to translate. Others, such as languages with different alphabets and fewer professional translators, are more difficult and expensive to translate.
  • Time frame: What is your deadline? Ideally, you never want to rush a website translation project. Be sure to plan enough time for the translation process. Remember that urgent translations are always more expensive and may not be of optimum quality if the translator is under time pressure.

Thinking of having your website translated?

If so, you have come to the right place. SwissGlobal offers free price estimates for your website translation projects. All we need to know is what type of CMS you have and into what languages/for which countries you wish to have your website translated. You will benefit from the latest technology and the highest standards of data security. Get in touch with us now to kickstart your website translation project with SwissGlobal.