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Get the right website translation and design

Most of us know that at the top or bottom of a web page in another language there is a button labelled ‘EN’. Click and the language will switch to English, thanks to machine-based tools such as Google Translate. But if you do this you will also know that the website translation can be very odd.

This is why if you own or manage a website you should not rely on automatic tools to provide an accurate website translation. Automatic translation can also mean your pages don’t even end up looking like you want.

Website design in foreign languages

Certain languages are wordier and therefore take up more space. Your ‘add to cart’ button might be translated in Dutch to ‘aan winkelwagen toevoegen’. In English that’s 9 characters, in Dutch it’s 24, taking up nearly three times as much space. In German it’s ‘in den Warenkorb’, 14 characters. This simple button will look very strange if you’ve not considered this in your web design. You could, of course, just reduce the font size but that may lead to making your button unreadable. What you really need is a human translator who can find you a different, less literal and more localised translation.

Another example: Many non-Latin fonts may need a different line or character size to your Latin default. Chinese characters are visually more complex than Latin and thus they need to be large enough for clear reading. These factors can vastly alter the appearance of the page, so bear them in mind.

Then there’s the minefield of captchas. (Captchas are those irritating tests designed so that humans but not computers are able to pass them, used as a security measure and usually involving a picture task.) Even translating a captcha into a different form of English might be very necessary. Recently we came across the instruction on a captcha to identify the ‘crosswalks’. It took a while to recognise that these are what UK English speakers would call a ‘zebra crossing’.

Our advice? Check that your website translation and design will work throughout your world markets by using our expert, human translators. More information here: professional website translation.