Nothing says “we speak your language” as well as actually speaking their language.

Website accessibility and translation go hand-in-hand

For some people, website translation (and other forms of web accessibility) seem like more of a compliance issue than anything else. They only want to do what’s necessary to avoid any accusations or complications, and no more. Once done, the translations and other changes will likely sit there. They’ll be untouched by future updates, because it’s just too much of a hassle.

There are some pretty obvious problems with half-baked website accessibility and out-of-date translations. Compliance is a good goal, but when you only do what you have to, you start ignoring the real people out there that need real help. 

Good accessibility helps everyone

Translation and accessibility aren’t always management’s top priority. They get put off for a number of reasons, but foremost among them is usually whether it’s an effective use of budget. Why spend the money if you don’t have a large population of non-English speakers, or people who actually benefit from website accessibility?

This is a perfect example of selection bias, where your sample population might not reflect the reality. If your team is thinking, “Well we don’t really get that many people from X group,” then your perception might be biased. After all, it’s hard to get Xs when you’re only targeting Ys and Zs.

The reality is that good, accessible content helps provide an excellent user experience to everyone, not just the Xs. And this is good, because sometimes it’s hard to know who you’re ignoring. So while you’re getting to know your market a little better, you can start by making your content a little easier for everyone.

Good website translation expands your reach locally, too

Website translation often comes hand-in-hand with expanding to new markets, but there’s usually significant impact closer to home, as well. You might be surprised how many people you’ve been unable to connect with in your own service area. 

Translated content gives you the opportunity to make a personal connection that’s uncommon in today’s digital world. With more and more of the marketplace going digital, you can’t shake hands or give a personal customer service experience as often as you used to. Your potential customers have your website to look at, and not much else. 

Nothing says “we speak your language” as well as actually speaking their language. And nothing shows you care as much as taking the time to give them access.

Active web maintenance means your site works right, now

Website translation and accessibility are too-commonly considered to be something almost cosmetic. In reality, you should be updating these elements every time you make changes to your site. Got new content? Translate it and address any accessibility issues like alt text or captions.

The issue with waiting for audits to make updates is that, in the meantime, it’s essentially nonfunctional. If a translation doesn’t match the original, or it’s missing entirely, then your non-English speakers aren’t just left out — They’re actually unable to reach that conversion point. 

How many of them will actually get their English-speaking friend or family member to help them out? Fewer than you’d hope. Even if a lot of them do, you’re missing out on those in-the-moment transactions that can be so crucial.

Having an accessible website means anyone, truly anyone, can go from lead to conversion without seeking outside assistance. You’re just removing the barrier for them ahead of time.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Sam Dicken

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