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Putting agile workflows at the center of website translation

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/TechnoVectors)

The recent pandemic has fast tracked the move to digital working for companies across the world. Those who previously lagged behind in terms of virtual and online processes have quickly realized that if they want to enter new markets or strengthen their international presence during the midst of the pandemic and beyond, they must adapt quickly, or risk being left behind.

A recent survey of more than 3000 global consumers in 10 non-Anglophone countries showed 75 percent prefer to buy online if the products are marketed in their native language, making website translation a key tactic in reaching overseas audiences. For companies with an established international presence, website translation is not so much an afterthought, as a crucial component of their global strategy, involving hundreds of translations to cover the huge amounts of content that customers demand from their brands in a highly competitive marketplace.

However, those responsible for this job on behalf of global brands know that there is more to this task than just pressing a button; to be most effective, specialist translators must be used to create compelling content in the relevant foreign language, with tailored workflows that are compatible with various content management systems (CMS) also taking center stage. So how can clients and translators work together to ensure large scale website translations are a seamless process?

CMS configuration

Companies with global footprints are working with increasingly large amounts of content across multiple platforms. Translating this into multiple languages can seem a mountain of a task – especially if a brand experiences a surge in growth and must communicate in more languages, more quickly. Plus, there is the added concern of how to handle such large amounts of data and information in a secure, compliant way.

Thankfully, technology is available which allows businesses to seamlessly push copy directly from their CMS into cloud-based translation management systems, which are compatible with the likes of Drupal, WordPress and Joomla.

Certain translation providers are experienced in working with IT teams to help configure their CMS for translation, devising a solution which ensures relevant content can be pushed through to translators at the touch of a button. Doing so can save huge amounts of time and money, allowing client teams to concentrate on their main role rather than worrying about website translation. A streamlined process such as this can also ensure that new and updated content can be quickly and easily flagged for translation.

Businesses that don’t have an IT team available to assist with this configuration have alternative options – especially if a translation provider is able to develop its own CMS connectors. For example, we recently worked with a client who had a highly customized Drupal system, which wasn’t compatible with off-the-shelf add-ons. To ensure it could still take advantage of our system, we designed a bespoke connector which allowed all translatable content from the site to be transferred into our translation management system and pushed back into the CMS once translated with minimal fuss. Meanwhile, for other clients, we have configured proxy servers to facilitate easier and faster delivery of website translations. These solutions act as a mirror of an English language site and allow translations to be deployed on the fly with no exporting of content required.


Translation into another language sometimes involves more than just translating the original content word for word. Different target audiences and cultures need messages that are tailored to their specific markets, with their own cultural and linguistic considerations. This is especially true of highly creative content where straight translation on its own can put costly product launches at risk.

For example, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) achieved great success in the USA with its nappy branding depicting the image of a stork delivering a baby, conveying warmth and new beginnings. It opted to apply the same visuals when it launched in Japan, but hadn’t taken the time to research the country’s own fable about reproduction; the Japanese favor the tale of giant, floating peaches travelling down a river, bringing children to expectant parents. For P&G’s target audience in Japan, the concept of a long-legged bird dropping a newborn from the sky just didn’t make sense. 

Real time communication

Companies that undertake global rebrands might need multiple sites translating, updating and launching simultaneously, ensuring a timely roll-out across all regions. For example, we recently worked with a global logistics provider wanting to produce new website content for 28 European, Asian and American websites - 27 of them bilingual, and two which needed to function in three languages – most of which had around 70,000 words of material.

Effective communication throughout this process is essential, especially in early planning stages, to ensure all developers, translation project managers and linguists are working in collaboration. Communication is also key in order to keep multiple stakeholders around the world up to date on progress, for effective sales and marketing planning.

Remote interpreting platforms which invite teams from around the world – who will often speak different languages - to come together using qualified linguists to translate live, in real time, help deliver seamless planning sessions for website translation projects. Conducted entirely online, all stakeholders can scope out the plan and next steps in their own language, ensuring it coincides with agile workflows.

Consider your security

A key consideration for a global website translation project of any scale will be security. Liaising between multiple parties working in different territories, all of which have individual processes when it comes to online security can become challenging.

Additionally, there is potential for the content itself to be highly confidential – for example, if it relates to industries such as technology, pharmaceuticals or finance or supports new product launches. Instead, it’s more effective to use a centralized system, which facilitates safe transferring of communications and content, and prioritizes version control.

Our translations, for example, take place within a secure, online digital platform that is accessible from anywhere in the world, meaning we can automatically import and export content without the need for long email chains or compromised security using third party software.

Websites which aim to be highly dynamic in terms of new content creation and in supplying users with new technologies to enhance their experience, should rely on an equally innovative and aligned supply chain to ensure strategies and objectives are achieved – and for international brands, this means working with a technically competent translation service, too.

Alan White, Business Development Director, The Translation People

Alan White heads up the Business Development Team at The Translation People. With 20 years’ experience in the translation industry, his role today centres on advising best practice when it comes to communication with international audiences, by providing companies with customised solutions.