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Website translation solutions

The three questions of website translation

Successful website translation strategies answer three questions:
  • What content to translate?
  • How to get the content out of the system and put it back into the system later?
  • How to integrate the translated content into the website?

In most content management systems, the administrator can define what content needs to be localized and what not. You need to set up a multilingual site and configure the translation accordingly. Some systems don't have the concept of links between pages in different languages out of the box, whereas others know what page is the translation of what page in the original language. There is often no correspondence between original and translated content, for example your terms and conditions may be very different in different countries, and your sales team or contact information is also very different. Other pages may have slight differences between languages, for example due to legislation. Translations usually work for example when you localize your US-based website into Spanish for Spanish speakers living in the United States, but a French website used in France and the same French website used in Canada or Belgium may have different content. However, the majority of your website can be translated as soon as your source content is edited. You need to tell the content management system what content you need to translate, and what content goes into what languages (or if all content goes into all languages).

If you are using marketing automation as well, don't forget to configure it for translation. If your website is available in local languages, but all your email communication goes out in English, you will lose contact to your potential customers. Content management systems such as Hubspot or Kentico contain marketing automation out of the box, others like Eloqua, Marketo or Infusionsoft integrate with different CMS tools.

Content management systems store the actual content in HTML either in databases (for example in MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server databases) or in the file system. It is important to identify the content and export it into the file system. Website translation works best with exported files that can be handled in translation tools like memoQ. Set up a folder on the web server where the HTML structure is exported. All content management systems have APIs or easy ways to automatically export content. It is usually a good idea to retain the folder structure. If not all content goes into all languages, then think of a way to identify what content goes into what language - for example by renaming the file or by exporting the documents once per target language. Document translation is done in memoQ, as memoQ is much better in working with document updates than built-in CMS translation tools.

Once the exported documents are translated, memoQ can place the documents back into the original folder or another folder using the same name or a name modified with tokens. For example, you can add the document language code to the end of the target file, and save everything to the same folder. Or you can recreate the folder structure under a different language code, and you can have paths like these, all retaining identical file names.

\folder export\EN\
\folder export\DE\
\folder export\JP\


If you want to run a review workflow before publishing the content, set it up in the content management system. Also make sure that the content management system monitors these folders and copies back the translations to the right locations.

What memoQ configuration do you need?

For website translation you need a memoQ server or memoQ cloud server with content connectors. Content connectors monitor the export folders and automatically route content through the appropriate workflows. You can automatically assign one or more vendors to translation and review for the individual languages and set up deadlines. Translators and reviewers can either be directly assigned to the project or you can use FirstAccept to assign the translation to the first person in your pool of qualified translators and reviewers taking it. While memoQ webTrans is not a requirement, it is by far the fastest way to deal with small document updates: when they click on the link, a translation interface opens in the browser, and they can translate or review immediately. When translators and reviewers click Deliver, the document is routed to the next person in the workflow, until the project finishes, and the document is then exported back to the original route, keeping the HTML structure intact.

Proxy translation

Those companies who take website translation seriously usually prepare their websites for translation. This may take a few days of work from their IT. If your IT is reluctant to make changes to the website, the solution is proxy translation. With Easyling, Reverbeo or others, you can automatically detect content on your website, export the contents into XLIFF, process translation in memoQ, and reintegrate content in your website. If your content is not very dynamic, this is probably a sufficient solution. If you need to get started with website translation quickly, or you need to get a word count for your website, we recommend this solution.