How to improve website translation quality: A complete guide

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How to improve website translation quality: A complete guide

Website translation quality is what you’ll be looking for when commencing a translation project. A well-translated website proves your commitment to localization, allows you to enter new markets with ease, and let’s face it good translation is on the priority list for any brand.

But, the subject of translation quality is a fluid one, one that doesn’t just end in one step, it requires an ongoing workflow to ensure quality standards are met and high-quality translation is outputted.

So in this guide, we’ll take you through proven processes for ensuring the translation you display on your website is accurate, on brand and above all, is manageable for your teams’ workflow.

We’ll address this through a three-step process involving a website translation software, machine translation (stay with us on this one), and professional translation services.

Quality assurance

Firstly, defining what quality assurance means to your brand is integral to the process. Most companies have their own set of content style guides that are used throughout any communications, content, and marketing actions so these will provide the starting point for quality control on your translated website versions.

Your translated content should match that of your style guides and provide localized content for your new target audience.

Apart from the basics, the process of defining translation quality for your company should also include:

  • Spelling (typos), grammar, and punctuation
  • Ensuring your translator has followed the term base – e.g. glossary of terms
  • The style and tone are representative of the source text
  • The meaning is not ‘lost in translation’
  • Ensuring website localization has been taken into account

Hiring a skilled translation agency or freelancer who can follow the precision such a task requires is paramount to reducing translation errors.

Expanding on these basic notions depends on how rigid you’ll be or how your budget can keep up with your demands. Not to forget time management as translation work can be labor-intensive for most internal workflows.

Let’s go straight into how you can make this process as feasible as possible for any team, regardless of whether you’re a one or a dozen with a project manager at the forefront.

3 steps to managing your translation quality

1. Use a website translation software

The concept of following a traditional translation method that involves a translation agency brief, proofreading, validation, and implementation (that means putting those words back onto your website) is outdated. And that’s us cutting out a few steps.

A website translation software is the first step to ensuring 100% of your website is detected, translated, and displayed. What does that have to do with translation quality? Well, firstly it ensures that you don’t have any untranslated content displayed on your website which eliminates any bad practices with displaying multiple languages on a page (your SEO manager will thank you).

Secondly, within that software, you’ll get access to a translation management system where you can oversee both your original text and target language side by side. This gives you the ability to implement quality control.

A couple of translation management features you’ll need to include:

  • Quality management: The ability to manage and edit your website translations in one place streamlines your translation workflow and allows you to centralize your project, and create your own translation process.
  • Glossary of terms: Adding a term base within your website translation software allows you to avoid having to manually translate dozens of brand or product names.
  • Option to add your translation team: Managing your whole website translation project from within one interface means you’ll want to add your translators there. An added layer of security when using a website translation software is that you won’t need to give translators access to the backend of your CMS.
  • In-context editor: Translation management systems that include an editor that also allows you to see where your translations are on your website help you or your translators understand the context better, giving the whole picture and minimizing translation errors.
  • Machine translation: Using a translation technology that involves machine translation brings you to the next step of translation quality assessment.

Read more about how a website translation can automate your workflow.

2. Using machine translation on your website

You might think we’ve gone slightly mad by discussing machine translation in a translation quality guide, but hear us out.

It’s important to debunk some machine translation myths and see how it can play an important role in the website localization process and why we needn’t be so dismissive.

Naturally, when we talk about machine translation and using it to translate the content of your website, we’re not saying copy and paste your content into a machine translation provider and paste it right back on your site.

On the contrary, using a website translation software that utilizes machine translation but with post-editing translation options is what’s going to make the difference between a website translation project that stalls and one that prospers.

The reason we so highly rate machine translation is that it essentially does the bulk of the work for you. With new studies regularly proving the accuracy of machine translation and in fact, we recently carried out our very own looking at the impact specifically on website translation (TL:DR the results were impressive) there’s little to worry about when using it to get your website translation project off the ground.

Missing out on this step means many localization projects get put on hold because of the daunting website word count number and the sheer panic of how to handle it.

This is why a translation software that uses machine translation eases all of these pain points.

In order to use machine translation to its best abilities, there are a couple of processes to follow to get your desired result.

  1. Segment your website by content types
    This usually includes segmenting your content by the most important such as the home page, services or products, a blog, terms of use, the about us section, and a contact area.

    Prioritize content that is very important to your audience vs. content that might not be essential to your business. Such as your homepage should take priority or high-converting landing pages.
  2. Consider the subject matter
    Machine translation is a solid starting point but it might not get all areas right, especially if the text is very creative or has jokes or references in it. So identifying this content in your source text will ease any problems you might have going forward and give visibility to your translators.

Download your free template to learn how to create your own content prioritization table and optimize your website translation efforts and outcomes.

While it’s no secret that we use machine translation here at Weglot to give our users a head start when it comes to website translation, it’s by no means the end of our recommended translation journey. So let’s next look at the professional translation step.

3. Professional translation

For the final step in the translation quality assessment, you can use a native speaker in the form of a professional translator, or someone from your team to review the content you’ve prioritized for ultimate quality control.

Machine translation gives you a great base to get started, the next step is fine-tuning the translations.

As we mentioned before, it can be great left untouched for specific parts of your website (or all of it if you wish – it’s a completely personal preference), but for those that want to get across more nuance, you might consider proofreading and editing those translations manually with a skilled translator.

Enlisting translation companies or a freelancer who will follow your style guides and adapt to the list we previously discussed in the quality assurance stage will give you the desired results.

It’s at this stage that you’ll decide what parts of your website you’ll send for professional translation and what pages can be left as is.

There are many industries where certain pages can be left to machine translation such as ecommerce stores with thousands of product pages. The likelihood is that the machine translation of a product description will be quite accurate, and with regular updates and changes, it might not always make sense to spend the budget on this.

The same can be said for your navigation, footer, and page titles.

However, when it comes to the “voice” of your brand and the overall image you want to portray from the words of your website, the input of a human translator will make the text read “more human” and give you the desired localization impact you’re looking for.

This is ideal for your high-converting pages and highly visible pages where either you’re making conversions or it plays an important role in the brand awareness and trust process.

Professional translators will also implement the necessary steps of proofreading your final translated content to ensure there are no errors. It’s vital to double-check that your translated content reads fluidly and that the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are as error-free as your original website.

Best practices for translation collaboration

Combining the three methods above will involve a certain level of collaboration to ensure each step is successfully completed.

1. Determine team roles  

Seems like an obvious one, but a website translation project can quickly get out of hand if you don’t give certain people certain roles. Whether you’re handling translations in-house or outsourcing, you need a project manager to handle things.

Having one project manager who can oversee the whole website translation project from start to finish ensures there’ll be consistency and someone accountable for delivering the project on time.  

2. Set realistic timelines

If you’re using a professional translator you’ll need to be mindful from the start as to the start and end time of your project. This is usually pretty straightforward as the professional translator will schedule in your website translation project. And, in particular, if you’re using machine translation to kickstart the project, then post-editing should be pretty quick.

3. Ongoing communication

Ensuring there’s an ongoing dialogue between you, your team, and your professional translators will make the flow of the project all the better. Continuous communication helps ensure that the project remains on target and if there are any issues, they’ve been cleared up before the projected end of the project.

Ensuring you have a direct method of communication, ideally, real-time conversations will ensure everyone is kept in the loop – think Slack or Google Teams. If needed, regular Zoom-type calls can help keep things even more aligned – but perhaps that’s more for larger website localization projects.

Real-time communication allows translators or teammates to ask questions without wasting time and gives you the chance to provide feedback.  

Translation quality: A three-step process

With the right tools in place, implementing a translation quality process doesn’t need to be complicated and most importantly, will give you quality assurance.

Using website translation solution Weglot will allow you to effortlessly implement the process we’ve discussed above. Detecting, translating with machine translation, and finally, the option to order professional translation or add your translation agency gives you the flexibility and tools required for accurate translation.

Combined, your translation project will stay on target both in terms of budget and timeline.

Get started for free with our 10-day trial or contact us to arrange a demo.

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