Well, you landed on this page because you have decided to translate your company’s website.Before tackling the question of whether you need to simply translate some content or localize it, we want to congratulate you. Statistics point to just 1 in every 4 people online being native English speakers, so you have taken your first step to opening up to the world, to internationalize your services. You may have many reasons to translate your website. But now it’s time to make even more decisions. The first decision is to choose which languages are the most important for you. Let’s analyze different ways which can help you decide
- how many translations you need and
- which languages you should use to distribute your content from your website.
1. Into how many languages should you translate your website?One of the first things you need to consider before beginning a website localization project is how many languages you want to support. Clearly, the more languages, the higher the cost implications. But not all languages cost the same, and translating into some languages is more expensive than translating into others. Furthermore, targeting some languages will also put some additional requirements on your website project (Arabic and Hebrew need to run from right to left, which HTML5 has made it easier to manage - but you'll also need to change the layout of most pages and the side the illustrations and graphics appear). Therefore, offering language support on a website depends greatly on budget considerations. There is no magic number of translations that can guarantee you a successful international strategy, but you should have some numbers ready. For example, analyze which countries are already visiting your website. Knowing where you are getting visitors from and if they speak a different language should make you think about offering translations of your content. But having zero visits from countries like Indonesia, Japan or China may be due to a lack of Indonesian translations, Japanese translations or Chinese translations. [caption id="attachment_3621" align="alignright" width="300"] Into how many languages should you translate a website[/caption] Website globalization trends point to some interesting facts:
- In the last decade, from 2005-2015, leading global brands have increased the average number of languages in which they make their content available from 12 to 30, according to The 2015 Web Globalization Report Card.
- In 2013 and 2014, research by Common Sense Advisory talked about The Rise of Long-Tail Languages and how opportunities may rise not in the typical and historically popular languages one may think, but in minority languages and also in taking a long-term view for publishing in several languages. Number 16 seemed to be the magic number for a website to be really attractive on a worldwide basis.
- However, 85% of the Internet population speaks 10 languages - so this number can also be taken as key figure.
2. Into which languages should you translate your website?There are very powerful reasons to use English in a website as a first option if your website is not already in that language. However, English does not suffice and many US companies have realized the potential of using document translation for website content and website localization as a very powerful tool. Of course if your company is targeting Egypt of the United Arab Emirates you should have your website translated into Arabic. Indonesian translations of your content make sense if you want to reach a country which in 2015 has 93.4 million people accessing the internet. The figure is projected to grow to 123 million in 2018. Indonesia is one of the largest online markets in the world. So if you are thinking that translating a website into French, Spanish, German and Italian will suffice, think again. Perhaps it will not make sense to translate into one or two of those languages and Chinese translations or Japanese translations will make more sense. Internet Live Stats provides a very clear view of where internet users come from live, but if you want to have a clear idea of where the numbers are look at the table below. In 2014, the top 20 countries with the highest number of internet users were
|Rank||Country||Internet Users||1 Yr % Growth||1 Yr User Growth||Total Country Population||1 Yr Population Change (%)||Penetration (% of population with Internet)||Country's share of World Population||Country's share of World Internet Users|
|Gross domestic product 2014|
Lessons learnt from statistics to choose which languages to translate a website
- There are 2,3 Chinese Internet users for every American using the internet with a similar buying power, so Chinese would be a prerequisite for any serious international market that does not want to ignore such a huge market.
- There are 6 English-speaking economies (US, UK, India, Canada, Australia, Nigeria) in the top 22 economies of the world.
- Internet users in the US and India almost make up the number of users in China.
- Internet population in Brazil is almost the size of Japan's even though their buying power is half.
- There are only 2 Spanish-speaking economies in the top 20 (Mexico and Spain), although Spanish is spoken by nearly 500 million people. (Plenty of Latin American countries make it to positions 22-35, though).
- French is spoken in 3 countries with high buying power (France, Canada and Switzerland).