Website translation trauma – is this YOU?

We just published this article on Open2Export, the new service supporting SMEs in exporting.

Does website translation really matter? I mean, really?

We all know it’s SO important to have web presence these days, and if your SEO guys know their stuff it’ll ensure your translation real visibility.

BUT, there’s a caveat – you REALLY want it to be visibility of something GOOD. Crass poorly “translated” text is a real turn-off and will lose you credibility and customers. A lot, of both.

“You would say that though… as long as our translation’s close enough, does it really matter?”   Well… Yes, it really does…

Website translation really, really matters

While the Brits are generally forgiving – within reason – of clumsy language, European managers are far less so. They expect a professional website for a professional product – and will assume the reverse to be just as true. You may make the best widget in the world, but if your translation makes it a laughing stock that widget’s going nowhere in Europe.

We’ve been translating for a German gas industry leader for over 7 years, and researching a big project for them this morning I found myself on the “English” website of another big German industrial player. Once I (and the office) had stopped laughing, I actually wrote to their Contacts page to point out some of the grossest errors. The text is patently costing them credibility, and lost credibility means lost sales.

The company concerned are keen to sell into the UK, and I’m sure it’s excellent German engineering, but having seen the appalling English on their website I won’t be the only one thinking: If they won’t even spend a bit on half-decent translation, what else do they cut corners on?” It’s high-end expensive engineered product too – a small part of one lost sale would have PAID for that proper translation…

“We spend loads on SEO though…”

All the SEO in the world won’t compensate for laugh-as-you-go translation – in fact good SEO on your site means more people will see it, laugh, and tell their friends, who’ll tell THEIR friends. who’ll… That negative publicity can quickly negate ALL the money you’ve spent on that market, and more.

And that marketing campaign won’t have been cheap – so PLEASE don’t screw it up by scrimping on getting your own “shop window” translated PROPERLY. It’s really not expensive – translation of a typical 10-page SME website by a reputable provider may be as little as a few hundred pounds. While you may want to get several quotes, in doing so please remember cheap language is cheap for a reason. Remember too the MoJ’s interpreting fiasco (just Google it) and remember that recommendations and references are worth far more than a shiny website. And don’t go NEAR any provider offering to “match any translation quote” – just how will they do that?

There’s more useful info on our own website translation page – and if you’re considering getting some translation done, our Really Helpful Friendly Guide provides more pointers on how you can get the best product whichever provider you choose.

A Cautionary Tale…

I’ll close with a recent “emergency rescue” website re-write we did a few months ago for a client who – luckily for them – found us just in time. A UK SME had a product they’d told the French media about, and the French media loved it. Loved it so much, they did an editorial in Le Monde about it promoting the soon-to-launch French website!

4 days before the much-trumpeted French website launch the client asked their French agent to check the “professional” translation they’d had done – and you guessed it, it was awful. Not just bad, but really, really BAD. A brief panicky Google later they’d found us and we started the re-write, which literally went live about 1 hour – no exaggeration – before the media announcing the actual launch hit the street. Now THAT was just-in-time