Your business is growing—and so is your client base. As you expand into new markets, you may be considering translating your website into another language (or multiple languages) to better serve customers both abroad and in your existing markets. But that begs an important question:
How long will it take to translate my website into other languages?
There isn’t a simple formula when it comes to creating a translation timeline. It depends on the type of translation you want, the services you’re looking for, the number and complexity of languages you’re translating into, the size of your website, and your industry.
At LinguaLinx, we understand how urgent your translation project may be—and why it’s so important to translate your website in the first place. Only 20% of the world’s population speaks English, so translating your materials is a critical part of expanding into international markets.
We put together this guide to help you estimate how long your website translation will take.
What Type of Translation Are You Looking For?
When seeking translation for a website, you’ll likely uncover two common translation methods:
- Machine translation (MT) is just that—translation via technological means. With MT, you input materials into a computer program, and the program produces the translation.
- Professional translation is provided by a Language Services Provider (LSP)—a group of experts offering human translation services. LSPs walk clients through the entire process from start to finish, offer detailed delivery timelines, and provide cost estimates.
While it may take less time to translate your material if you use MT, be prepared to spend time editing and proofreading the translated content after the fact for quality assurance—a task you may have to outsource if no one on your team is fluent in the language you translated into.
Professional translation is a turnkey solution assuring high-quality translated materials.
You won’t need to proofread or localize the text after it’s translated because it will already be professional-grade and publication-ready. But, this level of service can take time—especially since the translations are performed by humans, not computers.
Which Services Will You Need?
There are actually three specific services that fall under the umbrella of website translation: baseline translation, localization, and interpretation. And most often, you’ll be looking for some combination of these, such as a fully localized translation, or translation for also text on the website alongside interpretation for existing and future video and audio support.
The particular combination of services you need has an outsized impact on your timeline.
Many LSPs offer translation—simple text conversion from one language to another. You’ll likely find four service tiers, each with its own level of human work. The more human work there is, the longer you can expect the project to take (and the higher the quality will likely be).
The four translation service tiers you’re likely to encounter are:
- Raw machine translation – This is pure MT—no human oversight included
- Machine translation with light post-editing – Pure MT with minor contextual editing
- Machine translation with full post-editing – MT with thorough corrections
- Localized human translation – Human-only translation that accounts for subtleties, nuances, and industry lingo
While human translation typically offers the highest quality level and attention to detail, it can be extremely time-consuming. Depending on how quickly you need the translated material and the application of those translated materials, it might make more sense to opt for an MT-based translation service tier, at least at first or for the most critical pages to translate right away.
One of the most attractive features of human translation is that the material can be localized by humans. Local language discrepancies can be subtle—consider the difference between “trash can” and “bin” in American vs. British English, for example—but attention to them can give your translated text a professional polish. It helps your website feel authentic to native speakers.
Localization is generally recommended for business-critical and client-facing materials:
- User manuals
- Financial and legal documents
- Press releases
- Marketing materials (like your website)
There’s only one way to localize a text, and that’s translation via native speakers.
While translators can contextualize text generated via MT, the localization process requires a more hands-on approach. Since it’s almost exclusively performed by humans, localization can add additional time to your project delivery schedule.
When it comes to website translation, remember that you may need to translate not only the pages of your website, but also its features. One glaring example is live chat customer support.
You don’t have to offer live chat in every language, but it makes sense to keep your website as consistent as possible and serve customers in the ways that make them most comfortable.
To offer your live chat service in another language, you have a few options:
- Pare down your translated live chat. Created automated script responses that help customers accomplish tasks like tracking their order or setting an appointment, but direct them toward a live customer service representative for more complex issues.
- Hire or outsource customer service representatives who natively speak the language you’re translating your website into.
- Retain a live interpreter to translate customers’ requests to a non-fluent customer service representative.
If you take the first route, you can easily lump these automated scripts into your overall website translation schedule. But an ongoing service like live interpretation is just that—continuous support whenever you need it.
The second and third options will likely take longer to fully implement, and incur greater overall resource costs, but they are much more robust solutions.
How Many Languages Are You Translating Into?
If you’re translating your website into multiple languages, there is a chance that your overall timeline could balloon. This is especially likely if you’re working with individual, unaffiliated translators who aren’t able to communicate about their respective projects together.
However, if you’re working with a quality LSP, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a longer translation project timeline. Taking this route might actually benefit your project.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but here are the primary reasons:
- Native speakers of different languages can work on your project at the same time.
- Translators can work together to demystify context or industry jargon (even while working in different languages), ultimately creating a better end product in all languages.
Plus, actual time spent isn’t the only variable to consider. Translating into multiple languages simultaneously means reaching wider audiences more quickly, which makes timing things like international releases much more streamlined. All told, it makes global growth more efficient.
As long as you’re working with the same LSP, translating your website into multiple languages at the same time has the potential to improve your project without extending your timeline.
How Big Is Your Website?
Naturally, larger websites will take longer to translate. On a fundamental level, the more content there is to go through, the longer it will take an individual translator or team thereof.
But volume also adds complexity; on a website project, translators have two critical jobs:
- Translating each page and website component as a freestanding piece of content.
- Making sure that each translated page is uniform in voice and approach with all the others and that, collectively, they fit seamlessly into the entire body of your website.
The second task is much more nuanced. In particular, the total number of pages is as important if not more important than the total volume of words translated, either per page or in total.
If you run a massive eCommerce store with multiple product categories, informational pages, and blog posts, your project will likely take significantly longer to complete than a website with a four-page sitemap—even if the total word counts are (somehow) comparable.
What’s Your Industry?
Not all industries are created equal when it comes to translation work. There are two main reasons why some industries’ websites will take longer to translate than others:
- Translators may need to consult with a subject matter expert to fine-tune the context of your copy, especially if there is highly technical material (medical, legal, etc.) involved.
- Some industries have specific quality standards that translators must follow. For instance, SAE International maintains its J2450 standard, a code designed for quality control in automotive-related translations. This adds a layer of quality control.
If you’re in an industry that touts lots of challenging jargon (like Human Resources or the legal field), it might take a little more time to translate your website than it would to translate a traditional retail site. And if your industry is highly regulated, you may need to account for extra rounds of sensitivity reads and quality control to ensure seamless compliance in translation.
Get a Quote for Website Translation Services
As you can see, the time it will take to translate your website depends upon a variety of factors—the services you’re looking for, the number of languages you’re translating into, the size of your website, and your industry. Every translation project is truly unique, but one of the biggest factors that can extend a deadline far longer than expected is quality control.
If you’re thinking about translating your website, we can help keep that timeline to a minimum!
LinguaLinx offers high-quality translation services, and when you partner with us, you’ll never have to worry about quality control. Our translators are so much more than native speakers; they’re industry experts who know exactly how to maintain the integrity of your message. Plus, we carry certification with the gold standard in translation quality assurance, ISO 17100.
To learn more, get in touch today for a free consultation with absolutely no strings attached.
Continue Learning with These Helpful Articles:
- How Much Does it Cost to Translate a Website?
- Does My Website Need to Be Translated AND Localized?
- What Qualifications Should You Look for in a Website Translator?