Translating and Interpreting for the Global Community
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In addition to the compelling view of the international Internet
marketplace given in the previous article, A Worldwide View of
the World Wide Web, consider these factors when deciding whether
to globalize your website:
A website is primarily a marketing tool, whether it is being
used to promote a product or a service or just to get the word
out about your organization or your organization's activities.
Even if the main goal of your site isn't to sell something, you
have created it and posted it because you want people to spend
time looking at it. And if indeed you are ultimately trying to
sell a product or service, your best chances at accomplishing
that are by keeping people interested and coming back to your
site for the information that's there. People will spend more
time and come back more often to sites that are in their native
language and appeal to their cultural sensibilities.
Think about it. You would never consider an all-English international
marketing campaign using another media. Print ads in German magazines
would be in German. Television ads in France in French. And direct
mail advertising in Japan in Japanese. Claiming that English sites
are sufficient because most people who surf the Web speak English
simply isn't valid from a marketing standpoint.
There is also the issue that any business or organization already
on the Web already has worldwide visibility and by ignoring millions
in your audience by not addressing their linguistic and cultural
preferences you could even be going as far as to insult them.
You may even be missing out on entire market segments –
almost everyone in Holland and Sweden speaks English, but studies
there show that they prefer to search the Internet in their native
Non-native English speakers make up 95% of the world's population.
There are only six main countries where English is the mother
tongue – the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia,
New Zealand and South Africa. There are approximately 165 million
native speakers of English accessing the internet as compared
to 315 million non-native speakers. The numbers speak for themselves.
Using your website as a multilingual promotional tool can be
a very cost-effective form of advertising. More traditional print
or other media advertising requires you to spend the money to
both develop and translate your promotional information and then
incur the ongoing expense of running the ad multiple times. With
a website, once you translate and localize the main information
into the languages of your choice, your expenses stop.
Plus, localizing your site simply may not be as expensive as
you think. If your site is purely informational, for example,
and does not run any complicated applications, it is possible
that it could cost you under $1000 per language to have it localized.
In addition, there are certainly ways and means to minimize the
cost involved with your localization project. Two main ideas include
limiting the number of languages you address or limiting the amount
of material you provide in other languages.
It is not necessarily a requirement that you translate all of
the information on your site into all of the languages of the
world. Only provide translations of the most relevant and important
information on your site. "Extras", such as games or
periphery-type material can remain in English. Areas with highly
technical material, in industries where English is usually used
for the technical terminology, can remain in English. Or provide
some sort of combination, whereby your entire site is offered
in a few "major" languages and only portions are offered
in some "secondary" languages.
Another option is to only translate a "jumper" page
or pages to lead people into your English site. You can then promote
these pages internationally. Certainly there will be those who
will be put off to ultimately reach a site in a language other
than their own, but there are also those who will appreciate the
effort made to communicate with them and who as a result will
find you when they otherwise may not have.
The fact that your website can be used as a cost-effective marketing
and informational tool to reach literally millions of people is
certainly something to think about!
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