Launching a global website: Is technology right for you?

Offering your website in multiple languages has obvious benefits, but deciding how to launch and maintain a global website can be challenging and even confusing for many organizations. Here's the good news: there are a range of technology solutions out there that can help streamline the process of managing a multilingual website. However, no solution is one-size-fits-all. In order to determine the solution that's right for your organization, it's important to have a firm understanding of your technical requirements and business goals.

The use case for technology is based on three primary drivers: how your site is structured, how often it changes, and your internal team's bandwidth (which is explained below in more detail). Once you've determined how these factors drive your requirements, you can make a decision about whether technology is a necessity, and if so, which technology best meets your needs and budget.

Is your site dynamic or static?

If your website is static (fixed pages with infrequently updated content), the localization process is fairly straightforward -- you simply send copies of the static Web pages to your translation vendor; they localize the content, and send the pages back. However, the majority of websites today are rendered dynamically, meaning that content is built "on the fly" based on what the end user is requesting. An example of this is when the end user inputs their desired parameters for a hotel room (size, location, dates of availability) and is then presented with a list of available options that meet those criteria. 

Dynamic websites are driven from either database systems or content management systems (and sometimes both), and each scenario complicates the content localization process by requiring extensive IT or project management on the client side. In these cases, the use of a technology solution to facilitate the workflow is highly recommended.

Does your Web content change frequently?

If your content changes on a regular basis (daily or weekly) or if you have large content updates at regular intervals during the year, a technology solution can make the process much more cost-effective. Look for a solution that offers some element of automated change detection, so the need for ongoing project management is eliminated. With automated change detection, changes to the source language site can be automatically placed into a translation workflow, tracked, and then automatically returned or posted live, based on the solution that you have in place. This virtually eliminates the challenge of keeping your localized websites in-sync with the source language website.

What are your available internal resources?

Website localization typically requires the involvement of two types of employees within an organization -- IT and project managers. IT resources are involved in exporting and importing content from specialized systems (like CMS or database systems), maintaining multiple versions of content within those systems, and functional testing. Project managers are responsible for submitting, tracking, and receiving the content, as well as interacting with the translation vendors as needed during the process. When these tasks are extrapolated out across multiple languages and regional website variants, the internal costs can become quite significant. Using a technology solution removes the need to have a linear increase in internal head count as the amount of languages or websites increases.

The decision to utilize or not utilize technology to help you localize your Web content is all based on one factor: pain.  If there is pain associated with your current process (either in the form of time to market, lack of resources or cost), it makes sense to look closer at different technology solutions on the market to see how they can potentially alleviate or eliminate the potential issues.

Matt Hauser is VP of Technology for TransPerfect Translations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon