Attracting a large client base is what most companies would claim to be ideal in every business sense of the word. Since not everyone around the globe speaks the same language, it is crucial to find a way to reach all potential customers and clients with ease. This can be done by making multilingual websites available to prospect international customers.
One of the main benefits to having a multilingual website is that you will be able to attract clients from around the globe. Many businesses sell their products and services to those in other countries. With a multilingual website, those from around the world can review your website, see what you have to offer and then make arrangements to do business with you. With a website solely in English you are missing a vast segment of markets worldwide. According to World Internet Statistics, just 29.1% of internet users are English speakers. Over 1 billion people access the internet in a language other than English and if you are to attract a proportion of this market to your site, your online revenue will probably increase.
Nevertheless, when translating a website, there are several factors that need to be considered in order to deliver highly accurate website translations.
- Design and layout
Western languages are read from left to right and from the top to the bottom. Arabic is read from right to left and both Japanese and Chinese are read from top to bottom. Thereby website translation into non-western languages might require additional changes in the website layout and/or in the user interface design.
- Color and images
Colors and symbols can cause problems when translating a website, because they mean different things to different cultures and countries. In the western countries, for instance, red represents passion and excitement while in India, it means purity. In Ireland, the orange color has a religious connotation (Protestants) while in the rest of Europe is associated with Halloween.
- Character encoding
The UTF- 8 works with the majority of the APIs and it allows storing text in many different languages without having to worry about specific encodings. If you are working with content management system, TYPO3 has the capability of handling multiple language versions of a site. The TYPO3 Repository contains several extensions that facilitate the translation process.
If you have ever come across a website which featured a language other than your own, you are certain to know the frustration involved when it comes to understanding what it says. This is where multilingual websites will come in handy. They provide the site visitor with the information that they seek and do so quickly and efficiently.
It you cannot afford professional website translation services, there several sites that offer free online website translation such as Google translate, Babelfish or Microsoft Translator. There are also some plugins that could be easily added to your site to obtain an instant translation to several languages. One of them is jQuery Translate, a plugin that integrates the Google Ajax Language API to jQuery. You can just insert the code: $(‘body’).translate(‘en’) to call back a translation for each element or to create an array to get back a translated array.
These free machine website translations be effective if you are on a tight budget but nothing replaces culturally sensitive human translations. Therefore, it is highly advisable to get the assistance of professional in-country translators. Their experience and knowledge of the target language and local culture will be an asset to your attempt in conquering international markets. It is also advisable to do some research before you start building localized sites. If you are unsure about the languages that you will choose, here is a list with the most used languages on the Internet and the number of users respectively. (Internet World Stats)
1. English 536,564,837
2. Chinese 444,948,013
3. Spanish 153,309,074
4. Japanese 99,143,700
5. Portuguese 82,548,200
6. German 75,158,584
7. Arabic 65,365,400
8. French 59,779,525
9. Russian 59,700,000
10. Korean 39,440,000
The translation and localization of your website will show your prospect customers that you understand and respect their language and culture. It will also transform your company in a serious contender in the specific market.