How hard can it be to translate a website?

How hard can it be to translate a website?

Last month we gave you some solid reasons to post your site in multiple languages. [link here for last month’s article]. As you make that decision, you may be interested in how Tembua approaches a website translation.

At first client contact our project managers ask:

Is your budget extremely tight? Or does your industry or business model allow for lower quality? These are very different questions but they may have the same answer: one of the automatic translation engines online. Tell us up front if you don’t need professional services and we’ll help you choose the best online service. We know you’ll come back to us later!

Do you need a complete website translation? Perhaps a summary page will do, particularly if the budget is tight. Tembua’s own website includes samples of a summary page in numerous languages. [link here] One of Tembua’s professional authors can write a summary page for you.
Does any portion of your website change routinely? We can set up a process to keep your translations up-to-date.

What languages do you need? French for France or Canada or both? Which Chinese? It’s important to know the usage areas for the translations because Tembua will not only translate the pages but will also localize the text for the usage area. This includes currencies, phone numbers, date and address formats, holidays, cultural references, gender roles, colors and illustrations.

With this basic information, Tembua can begin quote preparation by requesting the website files: html, xml, sgml, jpeg, gif, asp, js, swf, PDF, videos, etc.   Some clients are able to give us all the files needed. For other sites we capture the text using a web crawler. The difference is that the client usually gives us only the needed files but the web crawler lists everything on the site and our client may need to sort through it.

We request source files for images with text embedded. (A hint for any translation job: place the text outside of an image so it can be accessed and changed easily.) We also need the files from which PDFs are printed.

Tembua’s quote will be prepared according to the word count of the files, the number of images/time required to handle them, voice-over or subtitles for any videos, and the number of PDFs for which source files are not available and which, therefore, will need to be recreated. Most websites also have hidden areas such as meta tags or mouse-over link descriptions. You will see a complete list of all files to be translated.


Tembua’s project manager talks through the quote in great detail with our client before work begins. There may be additional materials related to the website that can be rolled into the same project or files that are rotated in and our of the website which can be translated at the same time.

Do you have native speaker reviewers who will comment on the translations? We ask to be put in touch with them at the beginning of a project.

What are your company’s official colors and fonts? We will, of course, use your layout and fonts whenever possible. For Arabic, Korean, Chinese, etc. we will select a font that comes closest in appearance to your official font.

Once all the details have been finalized and the contract signed, Tembua conducts a thorough analysis of the site to find problem areas in advance. We notice areas where localization is needed and add the necessary staff to the translation team.

All translation by Tembua is done by linguists qualified under EN 15038. [link here?] They are educated, experienced native speakers of the languages into which they translate. They work in teams, one linguist translating and the other revising/editing. All their work is captured into our state-of-the-art translation memory management software so translations stay consistent across many documents and many web pages.

Our graphics experts localize all images, scripts, movies, etc. and retouch GIF and JPEG files if needed.

At this point Tembua sends the files to company reviewers if they are part of the process. When everyone is happy with the text, we check all the links and load the pages locally for review by our Q/A staff. The linguists are asked to spot-read the site to make sure that all glyphs display properly.

Upon delivery, your web designer has only to publish your files to the web.

How hard is it to translate a website? With the necessary skill, experience, training and attention to detail—not hard at al!

Patricia May


Tembua: The Precision Language Solution


About tembua

Tembua: The Precision Language Solution provides comprehensive linguistic services for 100 languages to private industry and government agencies on a global scale. Services include document and website translation and localization; conference and 24/7 telephonic interpretation; glossary development; proofreading, text adaptation, editing, multilingual design and DTP; transcription; technical / custom authoring editing, foreign search engine optimization; translation memory management; subtitling.
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