Translation and UX: 5 mistakes to avoid making on your website

translation and ux mistakes to avoid

Translation and UX: 5 mistakes to avoid making on your website

Translation and UX: this combination is often overlooked, but actually quite critical in improving the browsing experience on your website. What aspects should you keep in mind when translating a website, and what, on the other hand, are the errors and oversights that could harm the user experience, effectively reducing visits and sales?

There are certainly many aspects to consider when it comes to improving UX (User Experience): writing readable test that also converts, having accessible and easy-to-find buttons and menus, as well as clearly visible contacts and important forms.

While these aspects certainly contribute to improving the overall user experience, there is another equally important factor that is often overlooked: the importance of translation within user experience.

translation and ux

Let’s assume that after a lot of work, a lot of A/B testing, and a significant financial investment, you finally managed to create the perfect user experience for users in your local market.

Some time later, you decide to expand your business and localise your site into a new language.

It’s so simple, you think, we’ll have the text translated into the new language and it will be done!

Sure, by translating your site’s content into the new language you’ll certainly have taken a major step forward in creating a pleasant user experience for the new target market as well, but… are we sure simply translating the source text is enough, without paying attention to anything else?

In short, are you really sure you know everything about translation and UX?

If this topic is new to you and you have no idea where to start, fear not: in this article, we’ll delve into the link between translation and UX, focusing in particular on the five mistakes to avoid making on your website to ensure a quality experience for your users in any language.


Underestimating the importance of translation for UX

We know: this first piece of advice might seem obvious, but it’s actually a fundamental concept to get across when it comes to translation and UX.

In other words, a quality user experience always starts with a (good) translation.

In fact, a survey in 2020 of users from 29 countries confirmed that more than 75% of ecommerce users prefer to buy from sites that display information in their own language.

Therefore, it’s essential to rely on translation and localisation professionals to transpose your content into another language and for another market: offering your users content in a language unfamiliar to them can make their experience rather unpleasant.


Not being creative when translating

Having ascertained the importance of translation for user experience, it’s important to make an additional point: for truly high-quality UX (seamless, as we often hear) it’s critical to know when and how much to modify and adapt the translation of your content for different markets.

We have already extensively discussed the importance of creative translations, especially for ecommerce. In short, no user feels truly engaged by reading texts that, while well translated, do not consider their cultural expectations, specific cultural reality, and, of course, unique needs.

In other words: when it comes to translation and UX, a good translation is not necessarily faithful to the original, quite the contrary! An excellent user experience would be impossible without a culturally adapted translation.


Ignoring “secondary” aspects

Imagine you have to translate this sentence from your site for the U.S. market:

PROMOZIONE SPECIALE – solo 59,99 € fino al 25/11/2022 alle 20:30.

Couldn’t be simpler, right?

SPECIAL PROMO – only 59,99 € until 25/11/2022 at 20:30.

No, it couldn’t be more full of errors!

Incorrect decimal symbol, incorrect currency position, unsuitable date format, and time expressed in a way that is illegible to the user – this one phrase is literally a prime example of a bad user experience.

Of course, the general message still seems understandable (the promotion is limited and the price will go up after a certain date), but everything else is not at all clear: for starters, do U.S. users pay the price in dollars or euros?

Such errors and oversights, which to an inattentive eye might seem superficial and unimportant, can actually entirely ruin your users’ experience, who at best might simply judge the translation as overly careless; at worst, they might even fail to understand key details and, as a result, forgo the purchase.

In short, reconciling translation and UX means really paying attention to everything.


Forgetting about SEO

Although SEO is often only considered beneficial by website managers, enabling them to scale search engines and reach more users, a translation/localisation that complies with SEO rules will also indirectly improve user experience.

Keywords, links, images, bold, bulleted lists, short and concise sentences, clear explanations: in addition to helping your translated site get noticed by Google, these will also all be extremely useful to your users, making your content clearer and more appealing and actually improving the user experience.

In short: when we talk about translation and UX, we are inevitably also talking about translation and SEO.


Not adding anything, even when necessary

A quality user experience isn’t just about attractive designs, performing servers, and emotionally engaging text. Another important element to consider (if not perhaps the most important) is certainly the completeness and accuracy of the information provided.

But what does this mean in concrete terms when it comes to translation and UX?

Imagine having an ecommerce in Italy and after many vicissitudes, having opened a Swiss and a U.S. version as well.

Of course, for your Italian (and EU) customers you will only need to specify shipping costs and times, as usual.

With your new markets, however, you will also need to pay attention to another detail: possible customs duties to be paid by the buyer, as well as possible delays in shipping for logistical reasons.

Perhaps your site won’t have these problems, and maybe your customers won’t even have to pay any duties to receive your products. However, a Swiss or American customer will expect to read at least one sentence about this, if only to be assured that there will be no additional charges.

Avoiding to mention legal/practical aspects relevant to the target market greatly undermines the UX, decreasing the confidence of potential buyers and discouraging them from buying.

In other words: don’t be afraid to add information to your translation when necessary. Translation and UX might seem difficult to reconcile, but with the proper precautions you’ll be able to create a great experience for foreign users as well.

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