in Globalization, Translation

If you want to go global, website translations are imperative. For an e-commerce website, offering services in only one language can be detrimental to your success – you’ll bring in less revenue and decrease the likelihood of users visiting your website from different markets. Translating your website opens your business up to the world, but if you’re going to do it, do it well. It can be disconcerting for a customer to type in their bank account information and see their native language on the screen riddled with mistakes. It gives the site an air of unprofessionalism and untrustworthiness. Here are three examples of how a mistranslation on a website can damage the reputation of a business and hinder its success.

website translations around the world

[dropcap type=”circle”]1[/dropcap]In 2013, Spanish fashion retailer Mango caused outrage when it advertised a golden necklace on its French website and described it as having a “slave style”. Chaos erupted and the company swiftly issued an apology, explaining that the mistranslation arose due to the similarity between the Spanish ‘esclava’ (bracelet) and the French ‘esclave’ (slave). Mango was condemned by numerous French anti-racism watchdog groups, and several prominent French actresses set up a petition on, requesting a complete removal of the jewelry in question. Without doubt, this translation slipup cost Mango a chunk of its customer base and caused considerable damage to the brand name.

[dropcap type=”circle”]2[/dropcap]For anyone looking for quick translations, machine translation tools are a valuable resource. When translating your website into a foreign language, however, it would be nothing short of foolish to use these applications exclusively, especially when the website has tens of millions of potential users. This is what happened when the US government translated its Affordable Care Act website, which is set up to guide people through the tricky process of getting health insurance. The website was translated from English into Spanish and sentences were phrased awkwardly and grammatical inaccuracies were rife, leading many to assume that the federal government had just used a computer to translate crucial information. As a result, only a handful of the more than fifty million Spanish-speakers in the US registered. A well-translated website shouldn’t inconvenience users, especially when dealing with an area as vital as health care.

[dropcap type=”circle”]3[/dropcap]When retailers plan to launch their products in a market they need to cater to localized consumer needs. They cannot simply rely on their brand and products to drive traffic because this immediate success is not always automatic. Even if decent revenue is being generated, a lot more could be generated with a well translated site, which is a failure in itself. Gilt Groupe is one such fashion retailer. Its Japanese site has almost no translation. The menu is in English. The banner image uses a Caucasian model that bears little resemblance to most of the target customers. And the site design is very sparse, unlike competing Japanese retail websites.

Although translating your website professionally may seem more expensive and time-consuming, there’s really no doubt that your efforts will be worth it. Mistranslations that inadvertently offend, confuse, or inconvenience users can lead to irreparable brand damage. At CSOFT, we understand the need for quality in the services we provide, and we guarantee accuracy and professionalism at every turn.

Written by William Simpson- Senior Technical Writer at CSOFT International
Read more of William Simpson’s blogs

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