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The Hard Yards

11th November 2019

Are you putting in the hard yards in search of global success?

A client told us recently that he wanted to translate his company’s website into Japanese.  We told him that no, he didn’t.  The client was a little surprised until we clarified what we meant.

What he wanted was to sell his products to Japanese consumers.

The way to get it was to translate and localize the company’s website into Japanese.

Elite athletes don’t want to get up at 6am on Christmas morning and run on dark, frosty roads.  What they want is to win races and titles.  Putting in the hard yards is how they prepare. This week, British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson revealed the training schedules that have won her a world title and made her favourite for Olympic gold next summer in Tokyo. Needing to excel in seven different events, she pushes her body to the limit with intensive sessions that focus on at least three of them every day. It hurts. There’s no short cut to meaningful success.

When we told our client what he wanted, we weren’t splitting hairs. We were helping him prepare to win the race.

Why do you need website localisation at all?  Let’s look at some numbers;

91% of internet users express a strong preference for website content in their own language

82% won’t even consider buying products online in a foreign language

Statistics like that make the decision to proceed a straightforward one.  Once you’ve made that decision, what are the key issues that will move you forward or hold you back?

Can you be sure your content has been translated in a way that considers cultural variations in terminology, phrasing and colloquialism?

Can you be sure that symbols, graphics, pictures, colours and general layout have been proofed for cultural suitability?

Can you be sure that translated text won’t expand or contract in a way that affects site layout?

Text expands and contracts in different ways and for different reasons. Grammar, terminology and sentence structure are all factors. A 1,000 word Arabic text translated into English will, on average, convert into 1,250 words, while a translation from English to Japanese might expand the text by anything up to 60%. Are you taking all of this into consideration?

If you agree that your website is a sales tool, then you need skilled people to capture the nuance and flow of your language in the same way that it takes skilled people to follow the nuance and flow of a business conversation.

The effect of a poorly translated website on your brand image can be disastrous. Research tells us that a single website spelling mistake can cut online sales by as much as 50%. Even with correct spelling, it’s all too easy to make an unfortunate first impression.

“You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid”

(A word-for-word English translation taken from the website of a Japanese hotel)

You have to wonder what kind of tourist would choose to stay in a hotel after reading that, and you also have to wonder if the hotel would want them there. Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s trip to Japan next summer should go more smoothly and will hopefully end in glory. She’s earning it by putting in the hard yards, and we can all learn from her example.

 

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