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The localization process: 4 steps to a multilingual website

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The “old” way of translating a website wasn’t exactly the easiest of tasks for those handling the localization process. Dozens of spreadsheets and emails later, and you’ll have handled the translation part of the process. 

Then the localization project manager had the difficult task of bringing together the developers, translators, whilst closely involving internal stakeholders and following the localization strategy to a T to produce a multilingual website. 

A tedious process for sure, especially when you consider how many times you would have needed to go back and forth between the translators. And, let’s not get us started on the technical process of displaying the content! 

We’re calling it the “old” way because website localization doesn’t need to be handled like this anymore. The introduction of website translation software has meant there’s been a huge development in automation and many of the manual tasks can be processed without your assistance.  

For many businesses that chose to delay website localization, website translation software has opened up the possibilities of having a multilingual website, with both time and money saved. 

In this article we’ll take a look at the 4 step localization process using website translation software Weglot, to help you understand what’s going on behind the scenes and what’s needed when managing the translation of your website. 

Preparation 

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to presume you’ve done the initial background preparation in terms of target markets, how many languages you need to add to your site, competition etc. 

But, if you want a detailed look at how to create a localization strategy you can check out our guide to get you started. 

Step #1 Content detection 

Goodbye spreadsheets, hello automation! One of the first time-consuming parts of translating a website is manually detecting all the content on your site. 

In theory, it sounds easy, but as with most websites, not every page of your site is visible in the site navigation, such as landing pages. This can mean you’ll naturally miss big parts of your website from the translation process, particularly damaging if these are key transactional pages. 

With translation software, this step is done for you. Once you’ve installed Weglot, it automatically detects and picks up every word on your website (even images and dynamic content) so you can be confident that everything has been detected and even better, you won’t need to perform this task manually. 

Of course, you might be thinking there are pages and some areas of your website that don’t need to be translated for your new markets. These can easily be excluded from translation through your Weglot Dashboard.

exclude URL from translation

And why no more spreadsheets? After detection, all your translated words will land straight in your Weglot Dashboard where you can manage them how you like.

manage translations

Of course, the way Weglot works also allows you to export and import translations via XLIFF files, extracting all your source strings and making them available for translation, if that’s how you and your localization team like to handle things. 

So with that in mind, it’s on to the next stage…

Step #2 Translation rules 

A smooth website localization process wouldn’t be complete without a set of rules. Now you’ve got your translated content, before you go on to the next step of ensuring it’s the quality you want to display on your site, it’s important to set up some translation rules. 

And by that, we’re referring to a glossary, style guide and so on. A glossary is important because often with a website localization project there will be numerous terms and brand/ product names that you won’t want to be translated. 

translations glossary

These rules can be ‘never translate’ a certain word or ‘always translate’ a certain word. This makes handling your translations much smoother as you’re already taking away some repetitive translation tasks. 

Step #3 Translation method 

So, if you’re using website translation software Weglot, why are we talking about choosing a translation method? In case you didn’t know, quick recap, Weglot gives a first layer of machine translation. 

Naturally, not everyone is comfortable with leaving machine translation as it is (we’ve written a detailed guide all about that so head on over to learn more about how it can actually be your best ally). That’s why discussing how you can set your translation quality to be the standard you want for your website visitors is a valid point. 

Of course, having a first layer of machine translation to work from removes a lot of the initial work for those that review and edit your translations afterward – so it’s most certainly not wasted. 

So it’s at the stage where you may want the help of a professional translator to fine-tune your translations (in particular on your most visited pages or transactional ones), or you may even have your own multilingual teammates that you can add to your Weglot Dashboard. 

Handling your translations within the Weglot Dashboard means you can integrate your own translators, invite teammates or even order pro translators directly from the interface. 

You can see in real-time how much of your website has been manually translated (this means someone has made a change to the machine translation), and keep an eye on your website localization project process.

manage translations by URL

Just remember, what translation quality you display on your website is down to you, your brand and your budget. We’ve given some helpful advice on how you may want to handle this process


Step #4 Launch multilingual website 

Believe it or not, that’s it. You’re now ready to launch your multilingual website. Of course, there are many finer details that you may wish to look into further down the line, like translating images etc to be appropriate for your target audience. 

But, when it comes to having a fully multilingual website in terms of the words on your website – you’re good to go! You may be asking yourself what about the technical side of things? Using Weglot means your translated words are displayed under language-specific subdomains or subdirectories (depending on your CMS) automatically so there’s no need to worry about managing multiple websites for multiple languages. 

And, even better news, you haven’t had to take away any precious time from your website developers!

“Weglot removed the pain of having to manage multiple stores for multiple locales. The integration was easy and the support is incredibly helpful. I highly recommend Weglot to anyone looking for a simple and cost effective solution to translate their stores!

Mike Robertson, Director of Sales Operations, Nikon”

Summary 

Now it’s clear how the website localization process works when using a tool such as Weglot, you’re ready to put the knowledge into practice! 

Website localization doesn’t need to be scary and in fact, with the right tools by your side, the process can be a lot quicker and more efficient than you might have first thought. 

Check out our other useful website localization articles below and don’t forget to try Weglot for free for the first 10-days to see how it can help you with your website translation process. 

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