Managing language expectations when you can’t translate everything

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I don’t know of any large company that translates all of its content into all of its target languages.

I won’t go into the many reasons for why this is — money being the major reason — but I will say that if this is an issue you struggle with you’re not alone.

The key to success is in managing user expectations. Few companies do this well.

I wrote a bit about this for a sponsored blog post here.

An excerpt:

Some links are better left un-translated
Let’s suppose that you’ve translated 25% of your website — you’re bound to have plenty of web pages that link to other web pages that are still in the source language. Should you remove those links, or should you translate them?

I recommend leaving these links un-translated. Therefore, users will see English text before they click on it, which is a subtle but important way to manage user expectations.

An alternative, which can often be supported by content management systems, is to go ahead and translate the links but also append text that reads “In English” next to the link. Make sure “In English” is also translated!

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.