You might be right in turning your nose up at the very word of automated translation. Google Translate is more than likely the first automated translation provider you’ll think about and you’re probably associating it with the inbuilt Chrome extension – which let’s face it, can be quite nonsensical.
Pretty much everywhere we go these days we can expect to see some form of automated translation – even Facebook is using it within their platform to “connect” more users to content in different languages.
But, it’s also there to help us in our day-to-day life. Let’s not forget the times we’ve grabbed for a translation app to ask for directions whilst on holiday, to navigate being an expat in an unfamiliar country or to simply laugh at how bizarre some languages can be.
The question is, are we being given a distorted image of what automated translation is and forgetting about a) the increasing accuracy it’s now outputting and b) how it can aid us with bigger projects such as website translation.
Whilst it’s no secret that we use automated translation here at Weglot to give our users a head start when it comes to website translation, it’s by no means the end of our recommended translation journey.
So, let’s debunk some automated translation myths and see how it can play an important role in the website localization process and why we shouldn’t be so dismissive.
What is automatic translation?
Automatic translation is essentially another word for machine translation. Machine translation is an automated software (such as DeepL, Google Translate, Yandex, etc) that translates input text from one language into a target language. And that’s where it stops. You don’t have control over the quality, the quality is determined by the machine provider you selected.
Using automatic translation on your website
Okay, we’re going to stop you right there. When we talk about automatic translation and using it to translate the content of your website, we’re not saying copy and paste your content into an automatic translation provider and paste it right back on your site. That’s a big no.
Or maybe you were one of the previous users of the free Google Translate widget (now a paid service), which unlike the Chrome extension actually made it look like your site was available in more than one language because it also facilitated a front-end language switcher for your site visitors.
This can work for some language pairs, but for many languages, it can return some not so great results. Plus, you give all the translation control over to Google and what you see is what you get, there were no editing options.
When automatic translation makes sense
When you’re responsible for translating your website you can feel quite overwhelmed. Localization projects all too often get put on hold because of the daunting website word count number staring back at you and the sheer panic of how you’re going to handle it. Plus, the prospect of providing excel files and going back and forth with translators is not the easiest of experiences.
This is exactly where automatic translation can step in and make things much smoother.
Using a translation solution, and we’re specifically talking about Weglot, means the content of your website will be detected, translated, but, and it’s a big but, given back to you for your review. And that’s one of the biggest advantages automatic translation offers – it essentially kicks starts the translation process.
Of course, there can also be times when you’ll be fine with leaving certain automated translations as is. For example, if you’re an ecommerce store with thousands of product pages on your website, the likelihood is that the automated translation of a product description is going to be quite accurate as the phrase is a pretty literal word-for-word translation.
The same can be said for your navigation, footer and page titles. But, when it comes to the “voice” of your brand and the overall image you want to portray from the words of your website, a bit of manual editing or the input of a human translator can, well, make the text read more human.
Why Weglot is a little different
Whilst as we mentioned we do translate your website instantly using automated translation, we offer a lot more than that. Automated translation is not our USP by any means (for a start we also enable you to display all those translations without duplicate pages or multiple sites). Yes, we use machine translation but what differs is that you’re handed all the editing possibilities required to achieve a fully localized website.
Once integrated on your website, Weglot detects and identifies every single word, image, metadata, dynamic content, etc – and gives you back a first layer of automatic translation.
We champion using automated translation at the beginning of your website translation project and use several of the best automated language providers, (based on their accuracy per language pair) to give you the best possible start.
You’re then handed control over your translation quality. We’re not really here to say what form of translation quality is right for you, rather facilitate all three forms of translation with the Weglot solution – automatic, manual or professional translation (we’ll take a look at these in more detail later).
Instead of providing us with the content of your website, you simply need to install Weglot on your website for us to work our magic. After installing Weglot the only thing you need to be concerned with is how you want to set up your translation workflow.
And so, the hard part is taken care of – the thousands of words on your website have already been given a first layer of automatic translation which is good not only for taking away hours of manual translation time but also every part of your website content has been detected. This means there’s no risk of human error.
Managing your automatic translations with Weglot
To display, or not to display – that is the question
So, how does it work now?
Whilst we think using automated translation is a great place to start with localizing your website (in terms of speed and cost efficiency), we by no means tell you that’s where to end things. Many other website translation solutions don’t include automatic translation or do, but it’s an add-on. We by default give you the option, it’s up to you whether you want to use those automatic translations.
In fact, you don’t ever need to display a single automated translation if you don’t want to. Within your Weglot Dashboard, you have the option to switch off displaying automatic translations entirely.
This means that none of your automatic translations will be physically displayed on your website, they will however be visible within your translations list so you can edit them manually. Only manually edited translations will appear on your website, meaning you give yourself full control over what’s displayed on your website.
If you do go for this option, you might also find it useful to switch off the other option ‘Make public’. Edit your translations privately and only launch your multilingual website when you’re ready and 100% satisfied.
Automated translation has given you a great base to get started, the next step, fine-tuning the translations. As we mentioned before, it can be great left untouched for specific parts of your website (or all of it if you wish – it’s a completely personal preference), but for those that want to get across more nuance, you might consider editing those translations manually.
A great place to start is if you or your teammates speak the language(s) you’ve just added to your website. This is exactly how we manage things here at Weglot, using our multilingual team to help look over the automatic translations of our website. We often find we only need to make a few small adjustments such as whether you want to use the formal or informal version of ‘you’.
The first thing you’ll want to do if it’s not you manually editing the translations is head to the ‘Team’ tab, found in the settings options of your dashboard.
Click on ‘Add member’ and select the type of role you want to give them – ‘Manager’ means they can make changes to everything within your translation project, ‘Translator’ just gives them access to the translations list and visual editor. Then enter their email address. They’ll be sent an automatically generated email inviting them to your translation project.
You can, of course, add your own professional translators to your project if you have someone you use regularly – they don’t have to be from your direct team. Once you’ve sorted out the roles of the people editing your translations, you can then start making edits.
To do that, you can either use your translations list – filter by URL and then the type of translation quality – so in this case ‘automatic’.
Click in the box and make your change instantly. This will be automatically updated on the front of your website.
Or, for many Weglot users – their preferred way is to make manual edits via the visual editor. This takes you to a live preview of your website so you can see exactly where the translation is in the context of your site.
Use the highlight option at the top to select by automatic, manual or professional translation. It’s a great way to see how much of your website you have manually translated. As you can see above the red represents automatic and the blue highlight is manually edited content.
The process is the same as the translations list, in that you simply click on a translation (the blue pencil icon) and then make your change directly in the box. This will then be automatically updated on your live website.
You might find that editing your translations within your team doesn’t work for you – it’s common that you’ll be adding a language to your website that neither you nor your team knows.
That’s where Weglot’s option to order professional translators directly inside your dashboard comes in handy. It’s simple and quick to do and your professional translations will be added directly to your website within 24-48 hours (it can be longer if it’s a particularly large order).
To make an order, go into your translations list, tick which translations you’d like to send for professional review and then click the basket icon to order them.
Then click the basket icon at the top of the page to review your order.
You’ll then be taken to a further page. Here you can review which translations you’ve chosen to send for professional translation and also an important box where you can fill in information that will help give more context to the translator.
Start your translation workflow with Weglot
So, as you can see, at Weglot we give you full control over your automatic translations. We’ve simply given you a first layer so you can decide your own translation workflow.
Whether that means you keep certain pages automatically translated, use teammates to make edits, or send your website to professional translators within the Weglot dashboard…Whichever option you choose is what’s right for your brand and website localization project. And, in fact, most of our customers use a mix of all three forms of translation management!
Maybe now we’ll give automated translation less of a hard time and remind ourselves that it’s there to give us a head start, rather than be the finishing line.
Interested in how Weglot can help accelerate your website localization project? Try us for free for 10-days and see how you can better manage your translation workflow.