Translating a manufacturer’s website languages, or website localization as it is appropriately called, does not need to be an overwhelming, time-consuming or expensive endeavor – if you take the right approach.

Sometimes just stepping back and planning strategically will go a long way toward achieving your business goals. Taking things one step at a time, in order of priority, and knowing how to present your source files correctly will help you avoid headaches.

Here are 7 specific steps manufacturing firms can take to save time and money when preparing for website localization:

1. Identify and partner with whoever manages and maintains your website.

This might be your IT department, your webmaster, your marketing department, or an outside third party. Find out, ahead of time, who the right people are. You will need to rely on their help and expertise for any website localization project.

2. Be prepared to submit your website source files.

Often, manufacturers seeking website localization for the first time mistakenly assume that they can just send the hyperlink or URL to their company’s website to whoever is doing the translation. But it doesn’t work that way. Websites contain not just text, but also a lot of code, that needs to be isolated from the text requiring translation. Work with your translation services provider and web experts to determine what file format will ensure a trouble free translation – utilizing best practices to maintain quality control and create a database of completed translations – and also allows the results to easily be posted online. And don’t forget to account for header and menu text, as well as graphics localization.

3. Work with a translation services company that has experience translating websites.

If you are not sure what to ask your IT or web design people regarding appropriate file formats, then have your translation services provider work directly with those individuals. An experienced translation services company that has successfully completed website localization projects can be your most important ally. They will know the right questions to ask, reducing the likelihood of miscommunication or frustration during the course of the project. This will take the strain off you and help complete your project smoothly and efficiently.

4. Break down the project into manageable phases.

If you need to translate your website into multiple languages, translating everything on the website at the same time may be time consuming — and costly. A better approach to your website localization effort would be to translate the most essential things first. Not only will you see benefits from your efforts sooner, but if any technical issues arise, you will be able to work through them while they are limited in scope. For example, you may want to translate the “About Us” and “Contact Us” sections for your local markets first as these are usually the most critical areas for potential customers wanting to learn more about your company. You can then expand into detailed product information and other background information in subsequent phases of your localization project. This phased approach is often also the easiest to get approved budget-wise. The incremental dollar amounts are smaller and, as you move forward, you can leverage the completed translations for consistency and cost savings.

5. Streamline what’s currently on your website.

It is not unusual for companies to let their websites get cluttered over time with a lot of outdated material, such as press releases and articles. These, and other sections, may not be essential to translate. If possible, work with your website or marketing team to purge your existing website of material that is not directly relevant to the global markets you are targeting. This will help you narrow down the volume of material to translate, saving your time and minimizing your website localization project cost.

6. Create a micro-site specifically for localization.

If your website has a lot of material on it that will take months to clean up or restructure, then consider having your web, marketing or IT team help you create a mini-website. This would be an abbreviated version of your current website containing only the most relevant information for your target geographic regions. This micro-site can then be translated into whatever the languages you need, more quickly and at much lower cost than trying to replicate your entire website in multiple languages.

7. Establish a process for addressing translation needs as your website evolves.

A website is not a one-time project, but a dynamic reflection of your organization that changes as your business evolves. Even if your company just recently refreshed its website, there will be updates that need to be made on as you add new products or messaging. Give some thought to how you want to address this from a website localization perspective. For example, you probably don’t want to call in a translation expert every time your company makes a few tweaks its main website. On the other hand, you don’t want to wait three years before updating your translations. Depending on the volume of your updates, you may want to considerer tracking changes and updating the translations on your site on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis.

Your website is one of your most important tools for presenting your organization’s message to your customers, as well as prospective clients, employees and investors. What people see and experience when they visit the site tells them a lot about your brand and your company. So make sure that you partner with the right web experts, as well as a reputable translation services provider, to ensure the best possible outcome for your website localization projects.