Planning a new website? Communicate! (with your translator too)

One of my clients told me recently that their company is re-doing its website. They’re working with web-designers and -developers, copy-writers, graphic designers and search-engine optimisation (SEO) specialists based in Spain, the US and various Italian cities.

The client, a company based in north-east Italy, already works with designers and suppliers based in Spain, Denmark, the UK, Japan and Switzerland, so they’re not new to working internationally. And I’m the first to applaud the sort of management team that says: “Where’s the best talent? Those are the people we want to work with – regardless of where they’re based”. (Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I, given that I’m their Italian>English translator and am based in Scotland).

However, a website needs to be an organic, seamless whole. One way to achieve that is to bring all the suppliers involved together for a website-planning meeting at the outset. If they’re scattered around the globe this could be expensive. But the result would be a better website and, ultimately, more business. Making the expenditure an investment, not a cost.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect companies to go to such lengths, though, not to mention the headache of scheduling the meeting.

So here are a few tips to help you obtain the best possible website for your needs. Make sure all your suppliers are informed and involved from the outset, and talking to each other throughout the design and development process. If it isn’t possible to hold a planning meeting, send each supplier a copy of your brief (you did write a detailed brief, didn’t you?) and of the website design (or a link to the draft site once it’s ready).

Make sure the people working on the website have each others’ e-mail adresses and/or phone numbers. Send them regular up-dates. Don’t present your translators with a fait accompli and ask them to translate after the fact – language considerations could have a bearing on the design, as well as the copy. Make sure you, and your copy writers, designers, developers, SEO specialists and translators talk (and listen) to each other. As early on in the process as possible.

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Don’t forget that folk can effectively “meet” with online meeting spaces (for shared documents, whiteboard etc), online presentations & conference calls. It’s not always as good as face to face, but it’s a lot better than nothing!

  2. I prefer other language version of the website than the pure translation. There is too much to lose in translation and sometimes you cannot translate the mood, the spirit, and other not tangible things.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I see your point, but I think that’s the challenge for a good translator – to produce a translation that conveys the mood, spirit and other intangible aspects of the original. Whether or not the resulting translation can be described as “pure” is open to debate – it won’t be literal, so won’t be “pure” in that respect, but it should be “pure” in terms of the message it conveys. It’s an interesting question – and one that’s right at the heart of the translator’s work.

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