How to prepare your website for translation

The first thing to remember when you’re getting your website translated, is that you’re actually duplicating its content into different languages. This means, that any errors you have now, will be reflected in the duplicated translated pages.

Now is the time to tidy things up!

Check for HTML errors

HTML errors range from minor, unnoticeable issues to complete browser incompatibility – rendering your site unusable for many people. To check your site for errors, use an HTML syntax checker. There are several available. For example:

Some errors might cause browsers to ignore text. Our translation software might also encounter problems with text extraction if your HTML has serious structural problems. Such problems might be missing closing tags or  wrong order for nested tags.

It’s difficult to tell which HTML errors can be skipped and which can cause serious display issues. One thing is certain – it’s better to have no errors at all!

Use ALT attributes to describe text in images

If your website has images that include text, you’ll probably want to have it translated too. Translation Assistant cannot extract text from images. Instead, it reads the ALT attribute from every image and translates it. You’ll get the translated text for your images if you place it in the ALT attributes.

Replace absolute paths in references with relative ones

Websites function just fine with absolute references. For example:

<img src=”/images/foo.jpg” />

The problem is that it takes a web-server to resolve this references. The HTML page will display poorly, with missing links, images and style-sheets when opened from a local file system.

Why do we care? Because both you and the translators would probably like to preview the translated website locally before uploading to the web. So we recommend that you change these to relative paths, which are resolved relatively to the location of the displayed file.

Change the example image from

<img src=”/images/foo.jpg” />  to

<img src=”../images/foo.jpg” />
Can you tell the difference? Instead of calling the /images folder, relative to the websites root, we call it relative to one directory above the current one. This small change will allow the same page to load perfectly from a local file system.

Get ready with a list of reserved and special words

Very often, websites include terms which may not be clear to everyone. Especially, to people who speak other languages. You should make a list of these terms, along with their meaning. This list will help the translator better understand the website, and, therefore, produce better translations.

Also, if you’re using names, which shouldn’t be translated at all, add them to your list and indicate that these words should be kept as-is.