Upgrade to ChromeUpgrade to FirefoxUpgrade to Internet ExplorerUpgrade to Safari

Ratchadapisek, Bangkok, Thailand

To translate or not to translate? What are the deciding factors?

Posted 10 April 2014

Request a free quote Request a call back

A worthwhile investment – working with a professional translation services provider

Businesses shouldn’t view using a professional translation services provider as a luxury add-on or an afterthought tacked onto the end of a project. To make your translations work hard for you and to ensure your brand and image are portrayed as you intend, it is important to plan carefully.

When planning a website, from the outset, it is essential that the website can grow with your company and your long-term sales and marketing strategy. This means thinking about potential markets you may wish to enter. Planning for website translations to be multilingual from the start can save time and money further down the line and this is where a professional translation services provider can really add their value. Speaking to your developer about multilingual plug-ins which can work with the Content Management System that will be used and  advising how your website can be translated in the future.

For website translations and localisation, ALM’s team would ideally like to have contact with your web developer to ensure that the translated site functions as it should, after it has been translated. A professional translation services provider will be able to advise whether translators can work directly on the text exported from your website and run it through a translation memory program. Both of these will save time and money.

In terms of the website design, you should think about how different characters display, especially for Asian languages, and whether the format can be flipped for right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, where menu bars traditionally appear on the right.

If you need technical documentation translating, the professional translation services provider should select the best translator for the job – one with experience in the field and they should only ever use mother-tongue speakers of the target language, for all translations. To help the translation process run smoothly, if you have glossaries which are specific to your company or any reference material that may be useful to the translation, these should be provided in advance of the translation. These items will ensure that the translation is consistent and that your preferred terminology is used throughout.

Today, far more companies understand that translation is an important part of branding and advertising to overseas customers and are more willing to invest money in it than in the past. And it really is an investment with excellent returns if it is handled in the right way.

A few tips:

  1. It is important to remember that translation isn’t just a word-for-word rendition of a piece of text. Therefore, using free translation programs and apps to help with communication have a place, but they are really for personal use only and should never be used in a professional context. A professional translation services provider will choose an appropriate translator and add value with two rounds of additional checks prior to delivery. Don’t lose your message or brand credibility by trying to cut corners. Like anything, you really do get what you pay for and nothing in life is free.
  2. To gauge the quality of a translation, a translated document should read as though it has been created from scratch in the target language. If a document or website is translated literally, it will be instantly recognisable as a translation and the reader will lose confidence and is unlikely to buy from you.
  3. The fact that your potential client speaks English does not mean that that client will buy from an English website. It is a well-known fact that purchases are far more likely to be made on a website in a customer’s own language.

Cultural issues

Another reason time should be factored in when translating publicity materials is that cultural issues in the country you are targeting also need to be taken into consideration.

Branding also has to be considered. It is essential to check that there are no implications for how your brand is perceived in foreign markets. Also, local regulations need to be checked to ensure that your product can be marketed successfully.

Global communication may involve a lot of sensitivity. For example, humour does not always translate well between certain cultures. Therefore, this should be taken into consideration when writing marketing materials for translation in your native language.

You must appeal to your target audience

Are your product images appropriate? For example, IKEA’s home ware websites for different countries reflect the variety of furniture traditions in the countries themselves (free-standing sofas shown in Western countries, but Arab countries have more traditional built-in seating around the outside of the room).

Images of red post boxes might suggest delivery to UK-based users, but mean nothing to people in France, where post boxes are yellow!

As human beings, we have a common platform but need to communicate and adapt to fit different country environments (language, culture, laws). Speaking to someone in their own language, while also understanding their culture, offers the best Public Relations opportunities for creating a positive image of your company when dealing with overseas clients.

There is a lot to bear in mind, but the benefits of getting it right are priceless.

ALM would be delighted to provide a free hour’s consultation to discuss your overseas marketing and any translation requirements you have. We will explain the potential pitfalls and advise you of your options to obtain the very best results. Please contact our team to discuss further.


Request a Call Back