SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

5 Technical Tips for Website Translation

[fa icon="calendar"] August 6, 2018 / by Vinodh Nedyavila


Websites are now key to driving business growth and reaching global audiences. Companies expanding into global markets need to think about customers who do not understand English and/or search for information online in other languages. Website translation can help such companies gain an edge over competition, partly due to the following:

  • Over 3 billion Internet users do not speak English
  • 50% of all online commerce is conducted in languages other than English
  • Internet users are four times more likely to buy products from websites in their own languages

Website translation is an investment – significant gains are usually seen over time in the long-run, as it takes time to generate engagement and demand in global markets without a local presence there. Below are 5 technical tips about website translation. 

Tip 1: Verify languages and export file formats supported by CMS

Generally, any content management system (CMS) optimized for website translation should offer three essential features:

  • Hosting and managing content (including media) for market-specific sites
  • Full support for a variety of languages (including text direction and encoding)
  • Export and import of translatable text in a translation-friendly file format (e.g., XML)

However, in some cases a CMS may not support certain target languages or translation-friendly file formats. Before proceeding with website translation, verifying your CMS supports your required target languages and can export content for translation into translation-friendly file formats would be wise. In cases where a CMS does not support a certain target language, an alternate solution such as creating a mirror of the website (a static HTML version of the website) or using a proxy model would be needed. 

Tip 2: Encode files for website translation as UTF-8

UTF-8 is the best encoding type for any website, as it will ensure that your web content displays correctly. UTF-8 is form of Unicode that can include any character from any language from a unique code point, making it incredibly translation-friendly. Most content management systems are configured with UTF-8 encoding by default, and export files in UTF-8 encoded TXT, XML, or XLIFF, among others translation-friendly file formats.

Tip 3: Provide source files for website translation

Providing CMS export files or source HTMLs (rather than a website URL) allows for simpler, faster, and more accurate analyses of web content. With only a website URL, localization engineers would need to download HTML files tied to the website, identify the translatable text, extract the text for analysis, and finally prepare the text for translation. This can take time and may result in important text within the web content being excluded, leading to inaccurate cost estimates.

Translating websites with source HTML files or spreadsheets is also possible but may involve additional costs or time spent. For example, HTMLs may contain repeated text across all files for menus, headers, and footers, and in the case of spreadsheets the translated content would need to be manually pasted back into the website. For this reason, CMS export files or direct CMS connections (for example, using a multilingual WordPress plugin) are ideal for website translation. When working with CMS exports, performing a pseudo-translation on a few files to ensure there are no issues with the export and import process or with translatable content within is recommended.

Tip 4: Final QA check for translated files

Once website translation and review are complete, it’s a good idea to perform a final QA check for abnormalities in translated files, especially for files containing any form of code. When working with such files (e.g., HTML, XML, YML, JSON), there are times when the markup surrounding translatable text (e.g., tags, placeholders) may have changed during the website translation process. Although most tags are protected during the translation process, some must be editable as they contain words to be translated, such as image alt tags. Errors could arise due to complications while preparing the file for translation, or a translator accidentally removing or adding a space or a character. This final QA check is also to ensure completeness in website translation (all web content for translation has been translated).

Tip 5: Simplify WordPress-powered website translation with WPML

Almost 60% of CMS-based websites are powered by WordPress. For translation of WordPress-powered websites, using WPML is highly recommended. WPML is the leading plugin for multilingual WordPress website translation and management.

WPML is highly flexible and cost-effective. Users can customize each batch of web content for translation by selecting pieces of content (full web pages, specific sections/menus, or text segments) for translation, and assigning different target languages to each piece of content if needed. WPML exports the selected content in a translation-friendly format. Once translation is complete, the translated content is imported back into the website through WPML. Users can then view the translated web content as it would appear live on their website, making it easy for them to review the content and request changes, if needed.

SimulTrans has decades of experience with website translation and an integration with WPML. Whether or not your website is WordPress-powered, we can tailor a solution specific to your unique website translation needs. Click below to enjoy the benefits of WPML for free with SimulTrans website translation services, and let your multilingual websites take flight!

Get WPML Free  with SimulTrans Services

Topics: Website Translation

Vinodh Nedyavila

Written by Vinodh Nedyavila

Vinodh is an Account Manager and Marketing Specialist at SimulTrans' HQ in Mountain View, California, and focuses on new business development, inbound marketing, and creative writing. With a background in Economics and International Relations, and experience working in the US, Singapore, and Japan, he is a valued member of the ever-expanding SimulTrans team, and passionate about bringing the world closer together through localization services.