After 15 years spent launching multilingual websites for big corporations, localizing my own website was honestly a completely humbling experience.
I know a localized website will bring me more revenue, but where do I start?
As an entrepreneur or business owner your mission is to grow your business, to reach as many people as possible to take them through your funnel and turn them into loyal customers, subscribers or users of your products. You work hard to establish that connection and are eager to extend it to as many people as possible where you can have an impact. Expanding internationally becomes a really exciting thought then, a golden opportunity to gain that desired reach. It is generally believed that translating your website is the right way to go, and that getting a translator will take care of this. However, if you start thinking about it, it soon becomes apparent that there might be more to it than just that and it all becomes scary – wait a minute, which markets? How do I start? And once I get the text in a foreign language, how do I get it live on my site? At this point, if your gut feeling is still telling you that this is the way to go, the best approach will be to take the advice of a professional. Someone who can give you practical answers and guide you from start to end point; from choosing your markets and testing and evaluating if you need a full website project to planning, technical integration and full execution.
Any good professional will be honest telling you that there is always a lot of work behind any website, for multilingual sites even more so. Despite the fact that it is often just believed that you get the text translated into the languages of your choice and you are good to go, the reality is that the translation process is just one of the many steps needed to launch a fully localized site. Keeping a few basic tips in regards to languages in mind at the early planning stage will make it much easier to turn the site multilingual down the line, and if you are a translator, it will help your client and you with the project if you can offer this advice early on.
During my career in localization I’ve worked on numerous website localization projects, for big high end brands and smaller start-ups, however, the experience of launching my own multilingual website has been a humbling one that has given me a completely different perspective in the entire process. I guess this is linked to/ part of being an entrepreneur, working on your small business, when everything takes a new dimension and becomes more emotional. Although I always get very attached and give my all to the projects I lead on and manage, curating my site in different languages has been a process of love, with dots of frustration and a pinch of joy for good measure.
The 4 simple starting points for a successful website localization project
At the start of my website project, my marketing strategy helped me narrow my markets with ease. And, I was very clear at the beginning of my website design stage that I wanted to choose a CMS or platform that was ‘language friendly’, as during my time in business I have been involved in many vendor selection processes only to find that once the project is awarded and ready to be kicked off the technology is not able to cope with different languages. I discussed many possibilities with my IT support for Fluence Translations and in the end, I went for WordPress. This is a personal choice; they all have strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I like the flexibility of WordPress and the fact that there is so much developed for it to make it work the way you want. I also spent a lot of time choosing a theme that would, again, support multilingual languages. My experience in the field clearly helped me with this, as I was very aware of the importance of these choices and ready for them. However, what I was not prepared for was how challenging taking each decision was going to be. I felt overwhelmed during the research as there was so much at stake. At this point, it was very helpful to have a shoulder to lean on to share pros and cons and to guide me look at this from the point of view of what my business needed, not so much solely as from the translation point of view.
This experience has helped me with putting myself in my clients’ shoes and be able to incorporate advice from this perspective. My offering now starts with a free consultation (aka honest chat), where I listen to and guide the process with practical answers. This helps my clients visualize what will be happening and helps me to put together a tailored plan and implementation strategy based on their current needs and wants. And if, for whatever reason, the project does not go ahead, it is ok as I feel fulfilled to have been able to offer advice, share my passion and have a nice chat with lovely people that are in the same situation as me.
I was talking with a potential client selling luxury fragrances recently. She was planning to re-launch their site and wanted to discuss the possibility of translating it to German. I was able to have a conversation, stressing enough how crucial the technology is, and was able to bring in a more personal approach, from the point of view of the benefits of adding the decisions on the language front as part of the early stages, as opposed to leaving it for much later on. Even if you are not ready yet to commit to multilingual, this is a very important point, because, alternatively, you might end up having to re-work everything at a later date, which is not something anyone would ever want to contemplate. The client was so appreciative of these practical examples and although these decisions were not part of her current thought process, we were able to fit everything together and she felt reassured that the effort will simplify things to come.
In WordPress there are plenty of plug-ins offering to turn your site multilingual. But this is true of any platform, for Squarespace you have multiple apps, and so on. From your multilingual plug-in, or app, you want flexibility, easy language menu switches, the possibility to hide content that is not translated (in case there are pages that you do not want in all markets/languages) and of course, SEO capabilities to ensure your new site will rank in the target markets and users can find it easily.
As a small business owner, the pressure of having every decision resting on your shoulders is immense, but as a service provider in the past, I did not necessarily always take this fully into consideration. With a simple explanation of all that is behind a multilingual site and a description of what could be gained by being able to re-group the website decisions all at the design stage and a full overview of what is involved in multilingual you can take the pressure of having to do it all over again later on, and limit the things that could go wrong.
I am so happy to have my website in Spanish and Finnish. This is important for the business as these are key markets for our operations, but also for me personally, as I feel proud of having been part of the process from the beginning, to have the chance to take my time and evaluate options and ultimately, I’ve learnt so much from being both my client and my vendor!
If you are a small business looking into localizing your site, talk to a professional, get advice and take your time with your choices. As a translator, any tip you can offer your client, on what will work on your market, any extra mile will be so, so useful and appreciated that you will be contributing to making something even more special.
If you want to discuss your project with no obligation, give us a call on +44 7432 33 84 21 or use the link below to request a free consultation. We are also always actively on Instagram.