Technology: Translation proxy
A translation proxy is a service that appears as a layer on your website and displays content translated into the language of your users. To do this, you create DNS records that point to the proxy so that this service sends the translations to the source website. When the proxy responds, it sends you the translated content and incorporates it into the original html. The process is the same as when Google Chrome asks if you want Google Translate to translate the page you’re viewing. But, unlike Google Translate, these translations come from professional human translators, properly reviewed and edited so that the translated texts convey the right information in the right tone. In recent years, proxy services seem to be the fastest and cheapest way to translate websites, although it does have some drawbacks.
Let’s first look at the advantages it offers:
The content management system (CMS) does not have to be multilingual
The system on which you publish the site in the original language does not need to incorporate localisation features such as the option to save localised and translated versions for each page or post, or have the templates translated into multiple languages. Many content management systems (such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal) are systems that can be localised, but in some other you will not be able to add more languages when you need them. Creating a website that can be localised involves planning, technical requirements and investment that may not be cost-effective if translating was not planned from the very beginning.
The content itself and the CMS template or theme are translated at the same time
In an ideal situation, it is common to translate both the content (written by authors who publish articles into the web) and the templates (i.e. strings of code that are written by the developers). For example, in a WordPress website you need to translate the author’s meta tags, taxonomies or the buttons asking to leave a comment. All these strings are incorporated into the code of the template or in WordPress itself.
If you approach localisation without using a proxy, you will have to translate the content in two steps: first you will translate the content by isolating the text written by the web editors; and then you will extract the text strings that will be repeated throughout the site (such as “Send comment”, “Reset password”, etc.). With a translation proxy all the text is localised at once.
You can go on using interactive features of the web
Since the proxy shows a translated layer onto the source web, all interactive functions are still functioning (searches, contact forms and even e-commerce transactions).
Content is stored on secure servers
All translations are stored in the cloud, and the translation proxy service sees exactly what your users see. In addition, the proxy does not have access to the confidential information that users enter in your website.
As with other technologies, translation proxies are not always useful. Let’s look at some reasons why a translation proxy might not fit your needs.
In localised versions of the site it is not possible to create original content through the proxy
A translation proxy only translates (or in some cases filters) content taken from the main site. There is no direct procedure for adding exclusive content to a localised version of the website, content that should only appear in one language. For some companies, this is perhaps a drawback. If one of your subsidiaries in a foreign country wants to publish exclusive content for its target market, a translation proxy will not be very useful. You will need to publish the content somewhere else so that the proxy can access it and publish it. Another option would be to create sections on the main website for specific countries or regions, but then the advantages of a proxy would not be used.
A translation proxy requires you to manage and regularly update your website
If you want to save costs and create a simple and static site for foreign markets, the translation proxy will not be the best solution. Proxy services are designed to manage translated versions of the source site. If you add new content or modify any text, in the localised version the text will appear in the original language until you translate it. It is also possible to cut costs if you decide not to translate some sections of your website, such as not translating the blog or the news sections. But even so, with a proxy you will have to face translation costs whenever you add new content to your website. Another trick would be to create an “international website“, which needs no updating, and use a translation proxy to localise it into all languages and for all foreign markets.
It is difficult to estimate what the translation workload will be
Unlike a standard translation project, a translation proxy revolves around a constantly changing website, so it is difficult to predict how the site will evolve. The “I do it and forget it” scheme doesn’t work. It requires planning and a team to monitor changes on the web. But if you are determined to expand your business into new markets, this investment will pay off.
It is even cheaper than hiring marketing experts in the source country to create original content. Again, planning is very important. As is finding a translation agency that you can entrust your content in a simple and reliable way. Moreover there is the advantage that translation proxies incorporate translation memories that allow you to reuse already generated translations and save costs. Although a translation proxy does not fit all types of companies or websites, its advantages are plenty. A proxy is very useful if your website or content management system is not ready to be localised and you still want to expand to new markets.