In our age of global business interactions, making sure your website is easily understood by as many people as possible – both inside the US and in other countries as well – just makes good business sense. In fact, many recent studies have shown that if a website isn’t accurately translated, potential buyers will simply look elsewhere to buy their goods or services. And no matter what industry you’re in, there is plenty of competition on the Internet.

Once you’ve decided to translate your website, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Here is our list of “do’s and don’ts” for website translation:

Do’s

• Hire a professional translator, preferably one who is a native speaker of the target language, and one who has experience in your industry.

• Localize your website. A professional translator can ensure that your translated website is easily understood and appreciated by specific target audiences, rather than just a “cookie cutter” translation from one language into another. Be sure that the images and colors you use are not offensive to people from other cultures – people who are potential future customers of yours!

• Translate your site into as many languages as possible. Choose languages spoken by people you’ve identified as your target audiences. When you make comparisons between different successful companies, most of them have one thing in common – they are multilingual!

Dont’s

• Don’t use a machine translation or an automated translation service. Not only are machine translations often wildly inaccurate, they are also not specifically designed for your industry and are incapable of any type of localization.

• Don’t select target languages without giving it a lot of thought beforehand. Think about your potential customers, where those people live, and what languages they speak. Only then can you make sure to customize your website and your translations to suit your target audiences.

• Don’t force your site visitors to muddle through a website that is not in his or her native tongue. Instead, make it easy to choose a language on your home page, whether it’s via a selector navigation map or simply a bullet list of available languages.

In the 21st-century global marketplace, it’s important to connect with as many potential customers as possible. Ensuring that your website is accurately translated into languages spoken by your target audiences is an excellent way to keep up with the competition. But remember – a poorly translated site can be worse than one that’s not translated at all. Follow this list of “do’s and don’ts” to make sure your website is accurately translated and localized.