How to deliver an awesome user experience with website translation

world mapLet’s face it. We’re all pretty impatient people when it comes to finding information on the Web. We want to find what we want when we want it, and we want to get there in as few clicks as possible.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You see, in today’s fast-paced world, a great online user experience isn’t a luxury—it’s an expectation.

So when you begin planning out your approach for website translation, it’s important to think about this right away. You want your guests to get country-specific information in their preferred languages as easily as possible. Without this, your international guests may exit your site faster than you can say sayonaraadiós or see ya later (which is doubtful if navigation is clunky and confusing).

According to industry research firm Common Sense Advisory, a prime user experience relies on three types of navigation: auto-navigation, meta-navigation and traditional navigation. Let’s dive into these three types and talk about the role each one plays in welcoming global guests to your site with open arms.

1. Auto-navigation does away with tedious searching

Imagine coming to a website (after hours of searching) only to have to search some more to finally land on the version that meets your language needs. It would be a touch frustrating. Not to mention time-consuming.

Auto-navigation eliminates these pains by using a guest’s IP address (and associated geolocation) and browser settings to deliver country- and language-specific content the first time—with no added clicks.

Guests want country-specific information right away—especially if they’re making a transaction, because product information and pricing may be different from region to region. They also want to be able to understand the information you’re presenting (which is why you’re pursuing website translation in the first place).

Auto-navigation helps you put your best foot forward because both these needs are met immediately.

2. Meta-navigation makes changing language preferences a breeze

Sometimes your users may want to change language preferences when looking at a specific page on your site. Why? One reason may be that your users are multilingual and may have a preference to read content in their first, rather than second, language. Other reasons might be that people are traveling (and therefore they’re not in the country where their native language is spoken), auto-navigation got it wrong for whatever reason or guests may want to switch to another language due to simple curiosity.

When executed correctly as part of the website translation process, meta-navigation allows visitors to change language or country settings without having to stray from their current Web page. According to the same study by Common Sense Advisory, most websites still use old-school methods which involve a lot of clicks to switch these preferences and return back to the desired page. This is unnecessarily tedious. (And your guests may not stand for that.)

To be successful, include meta-navigation options on all pages as a universal element. This makes for minimal clicking and scrolling to change language and locale, while allowing the Web user to remain on the same page. This photo of Mazda’s website shows how guests can do just this with the handy widget in the top right corner.

Mazada website

Photo credit: Common Sense Advisory

3. Traditional forms of navigation are still necessary

Traditional navigation methods help visitors go to multiple pages on your website. It’s not a substitute for meta-navigation, though—as you don’t want visitors to have to search a lot just to change language or country preferences.

Having a lot of information with many pages on your website may be optimal for search engines, but if it’s not laid out well it won’t benefit you much. A good rule of thumb is that navigation requiring more than three clicks increases your chances of guests giving up.

Keep in mind, too, that with website translation your traditional navigation methods may change from country to country based on what your international users are used to seeing.

Want to learn more?

There are a lot of technical considerations with website translation—much more than translating the copy. While navigation decisions are ultimately up to you, our expert teams can help guide you on how to best do this for your company (and how to do it well) if you need it. Outside of this, we can help you with every aspect involved in the process, including testing, localization of other content and more.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think makes one website more appealing than another in terms of providing you with a prime user experience?

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