Four Common Mistakes Retailers Can Avoid When Launching Websites in Other Languages

Having a global website is the new having a website. Today, more and more companies are launching websites in multiple languages to reach international customers and serve their increasingly distributed customer base. Here are the four most common mistakes that companies make when creating their global web presence.

Mistake #1: Using flags to represent languages

If you think a flag represents a language, think again. Just like many Americans or Irish might not appreciate having to click on the flag of the United Kingdom, people from Brazil may not want to click on the flag of Portugal. If you're Swiss or Austrian, you might not want the German flag to represent your language either.

Many countries have multiple official languages, complicating the matter further. If you're Canadian, does the Canadian flag stand for French, English, or both? Flags confuse your users. Instead of using a flag, simply write out the language — in that language — so that anyone looking for it can easily understand it. You can also use browser language detection settings to automatically display the user's language, but you need to make sure to give them options to switch to another language easily. Learn more about this topic here.

Mistake #2: Taking an all-or-nothing approach to translation

Many companies view launching a website as a daunting and expensive task. But what if you could designate just certain parts of the website for translation or just certain items that you plan to offer in a given country? Today, modern companies are taking a phased and more gradual approach to translation. For example, perhaps you translate just the top 100 bestselling items and don't translate the information for the rest.

In the past, translating a "partial" website was not within the realm of possibility for most companies. Today, picking and choosing which content should be destined for translation has actually become commonplace. Modern translation technologies allow you to exclude content and specify which content you want to translate — and not translate.

Mistake #3: Choosing the wrong type of translation resource

Some companies mistakenly believe they can just throw their content over to a user community for translation or that they can translate their content with automatic, computer-generated translation, such as Google Translate or Bing Translate. In reality, all of those options are possible, but each translation option carries benefits and risks.

Which is the best translation resource for your company? The answer depends on many factors, but primarily, what your timeframe is, what kind of quality you require, and what kind of budget you have in place. Professional translation by humans is by far the best option for most companies. The answer also depends on how many different types of content you are translating.

Mistake #4: Failing to use "translation memory"

No matter which translation provider you use, ask them to share your "translation memory" files with you. These are databases of your past translations. Having access to this allows you to "repurpose" your translations, so that you never pay to translate identical information twice, keeping your costs under control.

Depending on how much content you translate, this simple tip can save you from 40% to 90% on future translation service costs. Support for "translation memory" is a standard feature of translation management software. This kind of software can also help improve quality with built-in style guides and glossaries to ensure better translations while safeguarding your company's valuable multilingual corporate content and preserving it for future translation use.

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