When a business or organization decides that it is time to localize their website for different languages and cultures, they typically turn first to a translation provider for a quote. Their web developer may have no idea that the client is even considering translation. For many reasons, a better path is to get your web developer or development team involved in the planning early on.
Some business people don’t realize that they will need their developer’s input. Sometimes business leaders are reluctant to get their developers involved because they think they can save money this way. The nature of today’s websites means that going around your developer is not a real option. The days of websites made up of individual HTML files that could simply be gathered up and sent for translation are gone. Today’s websites are almost invariably built on content management systems (CMSs). Most of the content is stored in a database and is fed into templates as pages are called up. A variety of plug-ins or extensions may also be used to facilitate the posting of particular kinds of content. This makes maintenance of a website much easier, but it complicates the translation process. It means that someone who knows the back end of your site very well must be involved in and available at all stages of the process.
(We’ve dealt elsewhere with the notion that website translation can be handled by a cut and paste process. In short: that’s a very bad idea!)
Determination of the process
We can prepare an estimate for translation of your website from an analysis of the online content, but it can only be a rough estimate. Localization now typically involves the development of a customized process for extracting the translatable text from that site and reloading the translations. We will want to discuss with your developer the most efficient and cost-effective means of dealing with the content, and obtain copies of the content in the files we will be using, before we can give you a formal quote.
The process can vary considerably depending upon the size and complexity of the site, your plans for updating the site in the future, and the developer’s input, based upon their knowledge of the CMS system and the organization of your site. The process can involve manual extraction or download of content in formats such as XML, HTML, or Excel, or a combination of both. It is also possible for your language partner to connect directly with the site by API. Our aim is always to maximize the extent to which content can be automatically extracted and re-imported, and it takes the knowledge of your developer, in discussions with your language partner, to determine the best approach.
Division of responsibilities
Our discussion with you and your developer will determine the responsibilities of each party in setting up the site, extracting text, uploading the translations, and making corrections to the translated site. It will also determine whether other services (such as the setting up of an API) are necessary. All of this feeds into our final quote for services.
If you use an outside developer, this will also allow them to give you an estimate of the charges they will be making for their part in providing services. Even if you use developers in house, you will want to find out from them how much time they think they will need. Without that information, your picture of the actual costs and timeframe of your localization project will not be complete.
The translation process
Based on our earlier discussions, the developer will usually end up with critical duties related to the translation process. Generally, it is the developer—the one who knows your system best—who is responsible for setting up the English-language version of the website that we will work from. The developer also usually takes care of any automated extraction of text and uploading of translations. If we decide that an API connection is the best system for extraction and uploading text, the developer will need to assist in establishing the connection.
We may also need to enlist the developer’s help in ensuring that certain coding changes, which are necessary or advisable for foreign language websites, are made. And we may have to consult with them occasionally on other technical issues connected with your particular system.
Finally, after the translations are uploaded and reviewed, we may need the developer’s assistance in making necessary changes because of their knowledge of the particular system and set-up used on your website.
The bottom line: When you’re ready to localize your website, let your developer know right away so that they can be prepared, informed, and involved every step of the way.