Scott Parker Consultancy

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Lost in translation? Multi-language websites the easy way

If you are trying to reach out to a global audience, then you often need to speak to them in their own language. Trouble is, getting all your content professionally translated doesn’t come cheap. You also don’t want the burden of managing multiple versions of your website for each language.

Thankfully, there is an easier way. You might have noticed that some web browsers – like Google Chrome – offer to translate the page if it thinks it’s in a different language to your own. That’s great, but the option isn’t always available and it would be nicer to show your potential clients that you are already thinking about them by integrating the translation into your website.

You can use the same automated translation services – like Google Translate – by adding some code to your site and there are the plug-ins available for most content management systems. They will usually add a selection box or the relevant flags somewhere on your site where users can select the language they would prefer and voila! The page is translated in a jiffy.

These automated services aren’t without their problems, however. The translations are not always perfect – for example, Home will probably be translated into Maison in French. But if it is referring to the home page you’d probably rather it say Page d’accueil. This might be a minor issue, but some translations could be confusing and even embarrassing.

What you really want is the best of both worlds – automated translation, but with the ability to edit the translation should you need to. This is where a great WordPress plug-in called Transposh comes in – it is simple to manage and you can edit text directly on your web page if you are logged in. It’ll remember your amendments for the next time someone translates your page. Transposh will even create new Google-friendly URLs for all your translated pages, without the need to duplicate and maintain different content.

We’ve used Transposh on a website for Mirabelle Gites, which shows off some fantastic holiday cottages in France. They only wanted English, French and Dutch translations for now, as that is where most of the guests come from, but more could be easily added.

Editing the translation on Mirabelle Gites

Mirabelle hope to get some friendly locals to check all the translated content so that it all makes sense, but if you don’t have that luxury and are prepared to pay for translations then Transposh now offers integration with I’ve not used it, but it looks like a simple and cost-effective way to get professional translation with very little effort.

So, no need to stress about offering multi-language support, it’s as easy as un-deux-trois...