Professional website translation for corporate clients

Professional website translation for corporate clients
Internationally engaged companies generally make their websites available in several languages. The translation of these websites nevertheless involves a considerable outlay.
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This outlay is dependent on the following factors:

  1. The CMS (Content Management System) used by the company to make content available on the Internet.
  2. The technical expertise, on the part of the company as well as on the part of the translation service provider.
  3. The division of labour between the company and the translation service provider in terms of editing the content and making it available on the Internet.

In this article, we examine this subject in detail.

Static HTML pages compared to Content Management Systems (CMS)

In the early days of the World Wide Web, websites mainly consisted of static HTML pages that were maintained by hand. This nevertheless required a good knowledge of HTML, and the maintenance and administration of such websites was time-consuming and error-prone.

To make the operation of websites easier, Content Management Systems (CMS) were developed. They simplify the administration of a website and allow articles to be created largely without knowledge of HTML.

These days, the majority of websites are based on a CMS. The market leader in CMS for websites is WordPress, followed by Joomla and Drupal. These CMS are extremely widespread thanks to their flexibility.

However, larger companies also use specialised or even in-house developed CMS, which are designed to meet the respective needs of the company.

Support of several languages in CMS

The support of multilingual content by a CMS is not something to be taken for granted. For instance, WordPress requires extra software modules, or Plug-Ins, to enable the management of multilingual content.

Other CMS however, for example, TYPO3, support multilingual content as standard. However, since TYPO3 is less widespread than WordPress, it can be more difficult to find a website service provider that provides this CMS.

When considering a translation of your website, you should start by analysing whether and to what extent your current CMS supports multilingual content.

You may need to upgrade or reconfigure the CMS. You might even need to switch to another CMS.

In this case, you also need to consider where the translated content is going to be made available. In some cases, a separate internet domain might make sense for this content (e.g., on SEO grounds); in other cases, you might be able to use a subdirectory of your current website.

At this audit stage, it is definitely worth contacting your website service provider to find out whether and to what extent your CMS supports multilingual content.

Export and translation of website content

The next step is to clarify whether, how, and in what form website content can be made available to the translation service provider.

Export and translation of XML files

The best way – if the CMS allows it – is to export selected content as XML files and then to re-import the translated content in XML format.

Such XML files can usually be imported and processed with relative ease by the translation service provider in translation software.

Translation of the whole website

In some cases, a CMS only allows the export of the entire contents of a website, which then also needs to be completely re-imported. This might be practical for the initial translation of a website if the translated website is then, for instance, published under another domain.

Translation of individual articles

In the ongoing operation of a website, new articles are constantly being created, and existing articles are updated. To ensure that all languages on the website are kept up-to-date, it is important that the CMS also enables easy export of individual articles.

Here too, it is recommended that you get in touch with your website operator to find out whether your CMS allows export and import in an XML format. You also need to verify whether the export of individual articles is possible.

Beware of so-called page builders!

In WordPress, you can install what are known as “page builders.” These permit sophisticated page layouts. The disadvantage of these page builders is that they often produce a plethora of tags for the layout, which are then mixed in with the text of the article in the CMS.

This makes the translation of such an article far more difficult because, of course, the tags also appear in the export files. Therefore, it is wise to avoid using page builders for these kinds of articles or make sure that articles produced with a page builder are exported cleanly from the CMS for translation, and can also be re-imported.

Again, we recommend that you discuss this point with your website provider.

Export and translation of HTML files

If the CMS you use supports only HTML export or if you do not use a CMS, but the static HTML files are available, you may consider having these translated.

For this purpose, the plain text to be translated must be extracted from the original HTML code and made available to the translation service provider. Subsequently, the translated text is then re-imported into the HTML files, where it then replaces the original text.

Depending on the structure and complexity of the HTML pages, the effort required to extract the plain text can vary considerably. Bear in mind also that, for example, the operation of Plug-Ins in the CMS can make the structure of the HTML pages more complex.

Translation of the downloaded website

If there is no export option in the CMS and there are no static HTML files available, you may need to consider downloading the website directly from the Internet.

A tool is used to find and download all the HTML pages of this website based on the website's Internet address.

However, the HTML pages downloaded using this tool can contain a lot of automatically generated content and source text (e.g., menus, advertising, etc.). Extracting the relevant text from the HTML pages can therefore require some effort, as described above.

Translation directly within the CMS

In some cases, the customer will give the translation service provider access to the CMS for the translation. The translation service provider can then manually copy and translate the content selected by the customer.

The benefit of this process is that the content is usually available in a format that is easy to translate (plain text content).

The disadvantage is that this process is time-consuming and error-prone. It is also easy to overlook content to be translated (e.g., alt-text from images, etc.).

Export and translation by manual copying from the website

In some cases, it is not possible to download the HTML pages of a website with a tool, e.g., when the website uses mechanisms which protect the server against overload from hackers. It may also block tools which download websites.

If direct access to the client's CMS is not possible either, the content of a website must be copied manually from the website, page by page, before it can be translated.

This manual method is, of course, very time-consuming and prone to error, and should therefore be used only if there are no other options.

Importing translated content

Once the content has been translated by the translation service provider, it must be re-imported into the website. Here again, there are several options.

The CMS supports the import of translated content via XML file

This is the best variant. In this case, the translated content can be imported into the website relatively easily.

The CMS has no export or import functions, but access to the CMS is possible

In this case, the content must be inserted manually into the CMS. While the translated content will usually have a relatively simple format, manually copying the content can nevertheless be tedious and time-consuming.

At this point, you will need to clarify who is responsible for the insertion of the content; the customer or the translation service provider.

The CMS does not support export, access to the CMS is not possible, or the website consists of static HTML pages

In this case, the content must be imported by the customer or the website service provider. In the worst case, the content must be imported into the website as HTML. This process can be very time-consuming and error-prone.

Translation of websites by PTS GmbH

At PTS have we have many years of experience in the translation of websites. In the past, we have translated content from CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, crossbase, TYPO3, etc., as well as content from company-specific CMS.

The most frequent enquiries we receive for the translation of websites are as follows:

  • Translation of the content of a website via XML export and import. Here, as a rule, we must ensure prior to the translation that the structure of the XML data will not make a translation too difficult (due to for example page builders) or even impossible.

  • Translation via access to the CMS. In this case, we copy the content manually from the CMS, translate it, and re-import it. However, it must be considered that this process is relatively time-consuming and therefore expensive and that errors can creep in due to the tedious manual work.
    • For example, in the past, we have handled TYPO3 websites in this way when no XML export was possible.

  • Translation of HTML files provided in the original language by the customer. In this case, we return the translated HTML files to the customer.

  • Download of the website and translation of the text content of HTML pages. In this case, the translated content is returned in a bilingual table in a Microsoft Word file, and the customer must insert the content into the website manually.

  • Manual copying out of the website followed by translation. As explained above, this option is the last resort when all other possibilities have been exhausted. As it is relatively time-consuming, it is usually only practicable for small websites or small parts of a website. The translated content is returned as Word files and must be inserted by the customer on the website.


The translation of websites can pose a number of challenges to the operator of the website and to the translation service provider. It requires a degree of planning and experience.

If you would like to have your website translated, we shall be happy to advise you in this. Click here to get in contact with us.

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