Communication, compliance, and compassion during the pandemic

Translation and localization are important aspects of modern business. In fact, they’re arguably the foundation of global industry, and yet even the largest, most culturally-diverse company can easily overlook the necessity of localization, unwittingly impacting important projects and even damaging employee morale.

The key is to remember that translation and localization, while closely intertwined, can mean very different things. Translation ensures that the meaning of information in one language can be accurately understood in another, but localization involves a more holistic effort: everything from adapting graphics to reflect cultural norms to appropriately addressing local laws and regulations. Localization also applies to things like currency units, paper sizes, date formats and expansion or contraction of text when going to or from English.

Localization Requires Cultural Fluency

Successful localization efforts require people who are fluent in the language, but also familiar with the regional and cultural nuances, dialects and speech patterns. Even among language variants such as American, Australian, and British English, there are subtleties: use of z versus s, putting the period inside the quotes or outside, and a host of slang expressions and colloquialisms. To create materials that are truly localized, companies must fully understand and accommodate such subtleties.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made proper localization an even more pressing issue for global companies in all industries, in ways that many of us never anticipated. Now that so many professionals are working remotely, it’s imperative that organizations’ policy and procedure documents accurately convey new standards for compliance and accountability.

Comprehension is More Critical than Ever

Companies have an ethical obligation to ensure that employees fully understand how they’re expected to work together and interact during the pandemic. Remote work implies a broad range of new behaviors, and employees will likely require additional training and support to adapt. Using video conferencing for meetings is the most obvious example, but submitting reports, filling out time cards, and collaborating with team members must all be done differently when the employee is not on site. Clear and timely communication that has been properly localized is crucial for their success. Additionally, firms must be mindful of how they communicate about the pandemic itself. For example, in some cultures, standards for professional behavior have long required people to come to work even when they’re sick. Given the insidious nature of this virus, it’s especially important for companies to fight those norms with explicit and correctly localized instructions, especially for essential employees who cannot work from home.

Further, organizations should take steps to help all team members be aware of cultural differences and the nuances of dialect. For example, the Mandarin phrase for “social distancing” means “send far away” in the Wuhan dialect. And in India, where people speak more than one hundred different languages, the term is frequently used, translated, and understood in different ways. Clearly, HR and leadership should understand these differences when developing corporate communications, but ideally, awareness should extend to individual employees so that day-to-day conversations are as smooth and effective as possible.

Leverage Localization to Support Employee Wellness

Finally, most companies are doing their best to provide encouragement and support to employees who are juggling work and family life as well as a range of emotional challenges, from anxiety to boredom to plain old “cabin fever.” Employee Assistance Programs, or EAPs, should involve localization efforts to support effective communication and ensure that employees genuinely benefit from them. Further, HR and leadership should craft messaging to take cultural nuances into account. An expression that’s meant to be uplifting and inspiring may not have the same impact or meaning in every language, and there may be traditional, culturally-influenced ways of communicating solidarity and compassion that the company would do well to leverage. For example, the German version of a memo about the employee wellness program might mention Kummerspeck, a uniquely Germanic word that literally means “grief bacon” but actually refers to gaining weight due to stress and emotional overeating.

Effective communication is critical to the success of a business, and even under the best circumstances, global organizations face significant challenges when communicating with a geographically and culturally diverse workforce. During these trying times, it’s more important than ever to understand and execute on the subtleties of localization, and do our best to support understanding as well as comprehension – for the good of our teams as well as that of our companies.

Marketers have enough to do to manage their websites and campaigns in one language, let alone several. When it’s time to reach other audiences around the world, the effort can quickly become time-consuming and overwhelming.

Website translation, especially, can get a bit tricky. Websites are more complex, often involving embedded technology and images. Keeping up with constant content additions and changes adds another layer of difficulty. Many content management systems (CMS) recognize this problem and offer tools to help streamline the process. Even so, complications often arise that make it challenging for your team to effectively manage and maintain the translation process on their own.

The best way to solve this common struggle is to work with a language services provider that specializes in website translations. An experienced vendor can deliver a turnkey solution for any CMS, giving your marketing team the option of participating as much or as little as they like. 

For instance, let’s consider the impact of this approach for businesses using WordPress. This open source software is the most popular CMS, powering 38% of the world’s websites, including well-known brands such as TechCrunch, Sony Music, and Rolling Stone. Marketers can use its multilingual plugin to streamline the translation process, but they can save more time and improve the process further by working with a translation provider that specializes in WordPress WPML deployments.

Getting started with website translation

Your marketing team may find themselves in a number of scenarios as they consider how to approach website translation:

  • You’re considering or starting a website redesign project. This is the perfect time to add languages to your new site.
  • Your website may be partially translated, and translation needs to be completed or expanded.
  • There may be new content that has been added to your website that requires translation into one or more languages.
  • Perhaps your website has been translated, but the translation process isn’t integrated into your workflow, requiring manual copying and pasting of content.
  • You may even have a fully translated site with a relatively efficient process in place, but the person in charge of website translation has left the company.

Regardless of your situation, the WordPress WPML Plugin is often the first solution multinational companies leverage to solve the translation dilemma – and for good reason. The WPML Plugin is designed to make it easy to build multilingual sites. It’s a tool that allows companies to translate website pages and posts, and it can be compatible with every theme or plugin that uses the WordPress WPML.

However, there’s still a lot of setup and maintenance work involved for your marketing team. After the plugin is installed, there are many steps required to complete the translation process. You need to configure the layout for the languages and address all of the items – both static and dynamic – on the site including:

  • User Interface
  • Pages
  • Blogs
  • Images
  • Menus
  • Categories
  • Multimedia content
  • Downloadable content
  • Widgets and third-party content
  • SEO
  • And more

Depending on the volume and complexity of your site content, the process can quickly become overwhelming. If you have questions during the process, it can be hard to get immediate assistance. Maintenance is another headache altogether, especially if new content and images are added to the site on a regular basis. The complexity of both setup and maintenance grows with the number of languages being added.

It becomes all too easy for your marketing team to get pulled in other directions, and their plates are probably already full. As a result, the translation process falls off the radar. When this happens, you can’t reach customers or employees in their native languages, thus losing business and possibly not complying with certain regulations. Fortunately, you can spare your team this headache and fast-track the translation process.

Partner with a WordPress-savvy translation provider

When you work with a language service provider that specializes in WordPress WPML deployments, all of the heavy lifting is taken off of your marketing team’s shoulders. You can remain involved in the process as much or as little as you like, with the option of a complete turnkey solution in which the translation provider manages the initial and ongoing processes for you.

Your team only needs to purchase the WordPress WPML Plugin and determine the content requiring translation. Your language service provider will handle the rest, including:

  • Assisting with the setup and configuration of WPML
  • Processing source XLIFF/XML files
  • Creating glossary/style guide
  • Translating, editing, and proofreading
  • Implementing your subject matter experts’ translation feedback
  • Uploading translated XLIFF/XML files
  • Completing website quality assurance (proofreading via testing/staging)
  • Updating glossaries and Translation Memory
  • Performing final User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Throughout the translation process, the bilingual subject matter experts on your team have the option to be involved in such tasks as the creation of glossaries or style guides, and side-by-side translation reviews. After the translation vendor has completed the QA process, your marketers can participate in the final website review process. Since they’re closest to the original content, they’re in the best position to identify any content issues or errors. However, participation in the review and editing process is entirely optional, giving your team the opportunity to focus on their other obligations.

A translation provider with proven expertise in the WordPress WPML Plugin will help your marketing team avoid getting bogged down in the details of website translation. They can take on the heavy lifting, allowing your marketers to spend more time on developing campaigns that drive business growth.


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Artificial intelligence is transforming machine translation (MT). Deep learning and neural networks have evolved into a new model – neural machine translation (NMT) – that has made MT faster and more sophisticated. But the future of translation lies in combining this new technology with human translators. Machine translation with post-editing is a rapidly developing service, and it heralds a swath of new opportunities for companies with a global footprint.

What Is Machine Learning with Post-Editing?

In 2014, researchers introduced the concept of neural networks to machine translation. Rather than memorize “windows” of words in sentences as previous models had done, neural networks look for the whole context of a particular translation. As a result, NMT produces a higher-quality translation in a shorter amount of time. What’s more, it continues to “learn” and improve.

Still, the technology has limitations. Though it’s suitable on its own for some use cases – such as getting the “gist” of an email message – it falls short when greater precision is required. That’s why machine translation with post-editing is one of the fastest growing services in the translation industry. The process is simple. Content is initially translated using NMT. Then, a skilled human translator reviews the output and edits for clarity and precision. The result is a better-quality translation – in less time.

This process is also highly efficient, an important consideration for businesses that need to translate larger volumes of content. For instance, as the internet has expanded access to a more global customer base, marketing teams must make social media and digital advertising content available in local languages. This is not an insubstantial task, especially as six in 10 international marketers don’t have support in all the local markets in which they operate, according to data from eMarketer.

However, machine translation with post-editing streamlines and simplifies translation projects. This process allows organizations to:

  • Handle large volumes of content. Many translation projects involve hundreds or even thousands of documents or pages. Examples include website pages, product support documents, human resource materials, and litigation documents used in the discovery process.
  • Accelerate turnaround time. Using NMT for the initial translation means human translators can focus on smaller sections of content, enabling them to deliver a high-quality translation in much less time than if they’d started the entire project from scratch.
  • Achieve greater precision. Though it is fast, NMT has its limitations. While it produces significantly better translations than statistical machine translation, it isn’t yet adequate for specialized text. However, when human translators conduct post-editing on machine-translated output, they can clean it up faster while ensuring creative and nuanced text is precisely translated.
  • Improve efficiency. By providing a foundational translation from which to start, NMT helps human translators be more productive. For instance, one longtime translator estimated that a good quality machine translation improves his productivity by 30 to 40%.

Working with Machine Translation with Post-Editing.

When evaluating a project for machine translation with post-editing, be sure to consider the following.

  • Languages. Because of the large amount of training data needed for NMT, the technology serves some languages better than others. For example, English, Spanish, and Chinese are more widely spoken and thus will require less post-editing and time to produce. Other languages will require a native speaker to produce a higher quality translation, extending the post-editing time.
  • Specialized text. Machine translation with post-editing will become more common for standard translations, but specialized content will still need the involvement of human experts. One of the limitations of neural machine translation is domain adaptation. The technology performs best in general use cases, but it’s not quite ready for specialized use cases, such as patents or healthcare.
  • Sector expertise. In order to ensure the subject matter is accurately represented and is compliant with government regulations, you need sector expertise. Certain disciplines such as life sciences and manufacturing have their own shorthand and terminology. Precise translation of this type of content is more difficult for artificial intelligence to achieve, making post-editing a critical step in the process. The American Translators Association recommends working with a translator who knows your subject inside and out.
  • High-stakes communications. What happens when more is at stake? Legal advisers can’t afford to misunderstand text as they determine how to proceed in a significant lawsuit. Products may not sell if the translation misses the cultural mark. Precision is essential in high-stakes communication, and the cost of errors can be high. For example, literal translations can lead to serious misunderstandings, especially in domains where words may have different meanings. A skilled linguist can ensure cultural accuracy.

When to Use Machine Translation with Post-Editing.

Machine translation services such as Google Translate are valuable for personal use or when “a sense of the content” is an adequate outcome. For example, Google Translate is ideal for tourists who want a quick translation of foreign-language signage at places they visit. Businesspeople conducting first-line research may value speed more, if they only need to get the gist of the news covered in an online article.

But for large scale projects that need to be completed quickly and accurately, machine learning combined with post-editing produces the best results. Artificial intelligence offers an efficient, cost-effective way to handle the large volume of content that businesses need to translate. However, human translators are better at capturing style, cultural nuances, and context than their machine counterparts.

To learn more, download our white paper: “How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Machine Translation and the Global Language Business.”

Two-thirds of companies say it’s challenging to be sensitive and adjust to local culture and communication styles, especially across multiple geographies, according to Globalization Partners. They can simplify the process by working with a translation partner that thoroughly understands these challenges.

The following checklist makes it easy to determine which content should be a priority for translation.

  1. Business-critical Documents
    • Mission and vision statement
  2. HR Materials
    • HR Manual
    • Employee benefits packages
    • HR forms
    • How to conduct a performance evaluation
  3. Internal Communication
    • Newsletters
    • Email messages
    • Corporate presentations
    • Employee handbooks
    • Company intranet
  4. Training Materials (scripts, training modules and quick reference guides)
    • HR training
    • Risk, regulatory and compliance
    • Organization leadership and development
    • Safety training
    • Anti-bribery/anti-corruption/ anti-trust
    • Workplace harassment
    • Cybersecurity training
  5. Ethics and Compliance Policies
    • Code of conduct
    • Regulatory compliance
    • Export compliance
    • Ethics hotline, posters & brochures
    • Procurement & supply chain
    • Ethics investigations
  6. Health and Safety
    • Safety data sheets
    • Manuals
    • Risk assessments
    • Occupational health and safety training
    • COVID-19 guidelines and reopening plans
  7. Salary and Payment Documentation
    • Compensation plans
    • Sales incentives

As you prepare to translate critical internal communications, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Define important terminology: Some words and phrases have different meanings in different languages, so they need to be clearly defined.
  • Account for local variations in languages: Regional dialects can have a big impact on a translation’s accuracy. Make sure you consider these nuances during the translation process.
  • Quality is key: Translations must be accurate, so a formal quality control process is necessary. Errors can result in misunderstandings and even injury.
  • Don’t forget revisions: It’s all too easy to translate a document once and then forget about it. If you revise the compensation or benefits package, be sure translated versions are revised too.

A reputable translation services vendor can work with you to ensure accurate translations of critical internal communications and help create a more inclusive, diverse environment across all locations.

With operations spread across multiple countries and continents, it can be challenging for global companies to engage distant employees. Companies with a global workforce face many challenges when it comes to employee engagement. After all, communicating company news and policies in multiple languages can be complicated.

However, research shows diverse and inclusive company atmospheres deliver tangible benefits. According to Gartner, they accelerate innovation and improve the bottom line. Meanwhile, a recent survey by Globalization Partners found that embracing multilingualism helps organizations achieve better results overall.

At the same time, though, Globalization Partners discovered that three in 10 employees don’t feel a sense of inclusion or belonging in their organizations. Just as translation of marketing content helps companies connect more effectively with customers, translation of critical internal documents helps global businesses make all workers feel as if they’re a part of the same organization.

6 Reasons you Need to Translate Internal Communications

It may be tempting to simply declare English as your official company language. It can certainly be a faster and less complicated way to disseminate information. Yet, there are many reasons why global companies should, and in some cases must, translate internal communications.

  1. Foster Diversity and Inclusion: According to Gartner, 75% of organizations whose frontline decision-making teams reflect a diverse and inclusive environment exceed their financial targets. Translating critical documents ensures universal understanding of, and higher engagement with, your organization’s mission and vision.
  2. Promote Ethical Behavior: While no organization is immune from corruption or misconduct, global corporations are especially at risk. Almost half of companies have experienced economic crime and fraud, according to a 2018 PwC survey. In addition, problems are more likely to occur in subsidiaries or joint ventures far from headquarters, writes Mary Jo White, former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in Harvard Business Review. Leaders, more than compliance programs, set the tone for ethical behavior, White noted, underscoring the need to translate both messages and policies.
  3. Ensure Legal and Regulatory Compliance: In some countries and states, the law requires certain internal communications to appear in the employee’s primary language. The best way to avoid legal issues is to err on the side of caution and translate all important communications. For additional information on the types of workplace language laws in various countries, consult this resource.
  4. Attract and Retain Better Talent: Global organizations can’t be sure the best employee for a given role will be a native English speaker. When they fail to provide internal communications in a preferred language, employees are more likely to feel undervalued and misinformed. That makes them more inclined to look for a job somewhere else. Also, companies risk missing out on hiring future top performers if compensation and benefits materials aren’t available in local languages. Simply put, a person who can’t fully understand what comes with the job is less likely to accept it.
  5. Reduce the Risk of Misunderstanding: When companies provide materials in the staff’s preferred language, everyone is sure to understand the organization’s goals and expectations. When they know what to do and how to do it, employees are more productive.
  6. Improve Worker Safety: If employees can’t understand your safety procedures, they’re at much greater risk of on-site injury. Such incidents not only lead to downtime, but could result in lawsuits or possible legal penalties. While safety should be top of mind for all organizations, it’s especially important when employees are working in factories or operating machinery of any kind.

A reputable translation services vendor can work with you to ensure accurate translations of critical internal communications and help create a more inclusive, diverse environment across all locations.


A Fortune 200 global manufacturer was transforming their Human Resources (HR) platform so that the workforce would be able to carry out activities previously handled by HR team members. The goal was to engage employees and their managers in making decisions swiftly, without requiring multiple levels of approvals. They determined this change would require translation of hundreds of documents into the eight languages most frequently spoken by 90% of their workforce.

Colors can have a huge impact on the success of any communication, but they can also have positive or negative connotations depending on where you live and the culture in which you have been raised.

Below is a general list of colors and cultural symbolism you may want to consider when developing your global communications.

 Red 

African: Good luck, anger
China: Good luck and celebration, joy, festive occasions
Hebrew: Sacrifice, sin
India: Purity
Japan: Anger, danger
South Africa: Mourning
Russia: Bolsheviks and communism
Eastern: Happiness and prosperity, worn by brides, purity
Western: Danger, love, passion, stop, anger
Middle East: Danger, evil
South American: Cruelty, success
Celtic: Death, afterlife

 Pink 

Korea: Trust
Eastern: Marriage, femininity
Western: Love, baby girls, Valentine’s day, feminine
Belgium: Baby boys
Japan: Spring, femininity, youth

 Orange 

China: Family, learning
Ireland: Religious color for Protestants
Hindu: Desire, courage
Japan: Warmth, energy, happiness, courage
Netherlands: Royalty, color of Dutch royal family
Western: Creativity, autumn, Halloween if with black
India: Purity, courage, sacrifice

 Gold 

China: Money
Japan: Money, heaven
Eastern: Wealth, strength
Western: Wealth

 Yellow 

China: Royalty, nourishing, honor, respect
Egypt: Mourning
India: Merchants
Japan: Courage, grace, nobility, childish, gaiety, illness, religion
Eastern: For the dead, sacred, imperial
Western: Hazards, coward, weakness, hope, taxis, caution, joy, happiness, energy
Middle East: Happiness, prosperity

 Green 

African: Religion, life, success
China: Exorcism, youth, growth
Ireland: Symbol of the country, religious-Catholics
Japan: Life, future, youth, energy
Eastern: Eternity, family, health, peace, prosperity
Western: Spring, go, money, Saint Patrick’s Day, safe, sour
Middle East: Fertility, strength
South American: Death

 Blue 

African: Peace, love
China: Immortality, strength, power
India: National sports color denoting secularism
Iran: Heaven and spirituality, mourning
Japan: Villainy
Eastern: Wealth, self-cultivation
Western: Depression, conservative, corporate, masculinity, calm, authority
Middle East: Protective
South American: Trouble


 Purple 

Japan: Decadence, God, insight, mystery, celebration, wisdom
Thailand: Mourning, widows
Eastern: Wealth
Western: Royalty, flamboyance, decadence, cruelty, beauty, modesty, mystery
South American: Mourning

 White 

China: Death, mourning, humility
India: Unhappiness
Japan: White carnations symbolizes death, mourning
Eastern: Funerals, helpful people, children, marriage, mourning, peace
Western: Brides, angels, good guys, hospitals, doctors, peace, purity, virtue
Middle East: Purity, mourning
South American: Peace

 Black 

China: Color for young boys, evil
Japan: Evil, mystery
Thailand: Bad luck, evil, unhappiness
Eastern: Career, evil, knowledge, mourning
Western: Death, evil, bad guys, rebellion, Halloween with orange
Middle East: Mystery, evil, mourning
Africa: Maturity, masculinity
South American: Masculinity, mourning

 Gray 

Japan: Modesty, reliable
Eastern: Helpers, travel
Western: Boring, dull, sad, plain, respect

 Silver 

African: Truce
Japan: Intelligence
Western: Stylish, money
Western: Personal power, peace, truce, death

 Brown 

China: Earthy
Japan: Earth, durability, strength
Western: Earthy, dependable, wholesome, steadfast, health
Eastern: Earth, mourning
India: Mourning

Solving a Law Firm’s Translation Challenge.

An AMLAW 100 Firm approached Trustpoint with the need to translate 380,000 words from Spanish into English on a rush basis. The matter involved litigation related to a power company.

All documents were in PDF format, which were created from several different file types: PPT, Word, scanned documents with handwriting, and Excel. Even with the most advanced document conversion tools, most files could not be converted cleanly in order to leverage translation memory software or machine translation technology. Keeping in mind that the average word count capacity for a professional translator is 2,250 words per day, we had to quickly scale up production efforts to meet the client deadline of 25 days.

Naming a new product or company, or coming up with the perfect tagline or logo is not easy. Even within your home market, you need to consider whether the proposed product name has any other meanings or particular associations that you may not have initially considered. This becomes an even greater challenge when it comes to marketing products internationally, as you contemplate the impact of the name in other places around the world and in other cultures.

Questions to consider are:

  • What is the meaning in other languages and countries?
  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Does it have any positive or negative cultural implications?
  • Do your color choices carry any specific connotations across the world?

Failure to take these questions into consideration could result in embarrassing blunders, costly corrective measures and even irreparable damage to your brand.

What are the pitfalls?

There have been numerous examples of embarrassing blunders such cases over the years, now infamous in translation and marketing lore. One of these involved the Rolls Royce company which planned on naming a new model “Silver Mist” until they realized that “mist” meant “dung” or “manure” in German. “Silver Dung” was not quite the impact they were looking for! Rolls Royce renamed the model “Silver Shadow.” A liquor producer was not quite so careful and ended up marketing their product in Germany as “Irischer Mist” or “Irish Dung” as it translated locally. Perhaps not quite the image they were looking for.

Why carry out a linguistic and cultural assessment?

So, how can you avoid such embarrassing mistakes and ensure a product name will be accepted around the world? While it is probably not possible to completely eliminate the risk, it can be drastically reduced by carrying out an impact assessment to analyze the linguistic and cultural connotations of the brand name in the target countries and regions where the product will be marketed. This will help to determine whether the brand name has any meaning in the main local languages, whether it is easy for people to pronounce and whether it has any positive, negative, or other associations through its meaning or its sound.

Which language for which country?

This can sometimes be more complex than you might think as more than one language is spoken in some countries. For example, India has two national official languages, Hindi and English. You might then think that an assessment of your product name in these two languages will be sufficient for the Indian market. However, this only scratches the surface of the complexity of language in India. While the central government uses Hindi and English for official purposes, there are actually an additional 22 languages which are official languages at the state level and about 30 languages spoken by over a million people each. In fact, less than half of all Indians speak Hindi. The official language of the state of Maharashtra, for instance, is not Hindi but Marathi. Any company looking at India as a potential market could not afford to neglect assessing the suitability of the brand name in the Marathi language as this is spoken in Mumbai (Bombay), the largest and most prosperous city in India – as well as its business and financial capital.
Is the same language applicable in all countries?

Another complication arises where a particular language has several regional variants spoken in different countries. This is the case for French, Portuguese, Arabic, Spanish – and also English of course – which are all widely spoken in numerous countries around the world. You may think it is safe to market a product under an established American brand name across the English speaking world but the many varieties of English as spoken internationally may lead to some unintended results. The common “fanny pack” for instance is known as a “bum bag” in Great Britain where “fanny” has quite a different meaning than in American English (look it up if you don’t know what it means!).

Do Language and Culture Impact Slogans and Taglines?

Slogans and taglines often use informal language or slang, sometimes coupled with humor or double entendres. Any translation for these needs be done very carefully and sensitively, not only with regards to linguistic meaning, but also taking into account cultural perceptions and associations in the target country. Humor in particular can be very difficult to translate and a bad translation may result at best in confusion to the audience and at worst a major gaffe. One such case took place when the KFC slogan “Finger Lickin’ Good” was translated into Chinese as “Eat Your Fingers Off” in the local lingo.

Do Colors Have Implications?

A single color can have many different meanings in different cultures. In Asia red represents blood, passion, self-sacrifice and strength, while in the US it is a color of warning, safety rescue, hot and spicy. There are traditional meanings associated with colors in various cultures, like those linked to birth, weddings, funerals or even the color of the mailbox.

So…

The bottom line is that companies need to tread carefully when extending their reach internationally, do their homework and seek expert advice on the suitability of their plans before taking the plunge.

For further information or to make sure your brand makes a good impression, contact us at: 412.261.1101 or translate@trustpoint.one.

It is great that you are planning to translate your website into one or more languages to better communicate with your customers and stakeholders. As you do this, it is worth giving some thought to how you will reference those additional languages for your non-English speaking visitors. It all starts with the language dropdown menu.

Here are four common ways the dropdown is handled – and a fifth, which is the only one you should consider!

  1. Incorrect: Using “Select region and language” written in English – to indicate the website is available in other languages. Stating you are a global organization committed to people and facilities around the world, then only using English to ask visitors to select a region and language seems contradictory. Frustrating a user is a sure way to deter them from doing business with your company. There are many creative ways to communicate visually to direct users on where and what to do.
  2. Incorrect: Using flags for the language dropdown menu. Some languages are spoken in several countries. There is no unifying flag that can be used without creating confusion, being offensive, or politically incorrect to one or more of the target countries. Some countries speak several languages. The Swiss flag may represent neutrality, but in Switzerland, there are four national languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh. You either would need to select one language to be represented by that flag, or have an additional dropdown menu for the language choice. It gets complicated.

    Exception: If your company only conducts business in one particular country (and only in one language spoken in that country).

    By Tschubby, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21129198

  3. Incorrect: Using the name of a country for the language dropdown. Again, this could be inaccurate and you may inadvertently insult your audience in one country and create the same issues as using a flag.

    Exception: If, however, you directly sell a product in a particular country like France and do not offer shipments to Madagascar, Rwanda or any of the other 29 countries where French is the official language, then the country name may be used.

  4. Incorrect: Using the name of the language or country with its English spelling in the dropdown menu. “Germany” is the English spelling of the country name “Deutschland.” If you took the time to translate the content, be sure to translate the name of the language and/or country so visitors can easily find the translation.

    Notes: Be sure it is correct. Other languages do not follow the same capitalization rules for language names. Additionally, if you have your site translated into two versions of a language, be sure to list both along with the version: e.g., español (España) and español (México).

So what is the best approach?

The simple solution is to have a globe of the world with no text at all. From there you can have your dropdown menu, map with regions to hover over, or any other visual or information. If your website is translated into just one language, then you can list just the name of that language, translated (“français” rather than “French”), in the upper right hand corner.

Take a quiz on what you learned:

  1. Which is displayed correctly?
    A

    B
  2. Which is displayed correctly?
    A

    B

    Answers:  1-A, 2-B

For further information or to make sure your customers enjoy an effortless web experience, contact us at: 412.261.1101 or translate@trustpoint.one.