“How much does it cost to translate my website”
is probably the number one question I hear day to day. This is probably the most difficult question to answer as well. So many different factors contribute to the cost of website localization that it would be hard to describe them all here, but I will give you my best summary of what we did in my agency.
What are the specific costs to translating a website? Let’s start with the factors involved and then see if we can explain them so that you can evaluate if translating your site is worth the investment.
When we put together a quote to translate a website we use the following factors:
- Translatable Content – how many words are being translated into how many languages?
- Graphic Work – how many graphics contain text which will have to be replaced?
- Data Work – how much data is contained within a database that needs to be added to the translatable content?
- Code Work – how much of your code is going to need adjustment after translation?
- Quality Testing – once the site is reassembled after translation you have to make sure it works.
- Project Management – at least one person at the translation agency or within your company will have to manage all this.
That is the very high level summary of the factors that contribute to the cost of translating a website. Now, let’s break it down a little bit and see how ridiculously complex it can get in almost no time at all.
The first steps to determining the translation costs for your site is gathering and then extracting the translatable content. You have to be able to provide a complete set of files for your website. No – we cannot just go to your site on the web and get this. That is an entire new subject, but take my word for it, spidering your site doesn’t work too well.
So we have to make sure we have all the files you want translated. This includes any downloadable pdf files or other marketing materials. If your site is continually being updated you will have to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and encapsulate the specific content you want translated.
Your site contains content within the html, in the graphics, within databases, and sometimes pulled from other sources. An accurate quote would require all of it to be counted. Most translation companies shouldn’t charge you for this analysis, but you can imagine that it is a pretty complicated process and does require an investment in time and resources by the translation agency.
1st Cost Factor = # of translatable words x cost per word per language x # of languages.
The next step is to analyze your site in terms of the graphics you have used to create it. Many sites still use graphical formats such as .jpg, .gif, and .png which contain translatable content. This content should have been ‘extracted’ in the process above and now you have to determine how much work is going to be involved with reproducing those graphics in each of the translated sites.
We would grade each graphic with a difficulty rating from 1 to 3; 3 being a graphic with animation or otherwise very difficult to reproduce. A set number of graphics per hour per difficulty level is then used to calculate the total charge for graphic reproduction.
2nd Cost Factor = # of difficulty level 1,2, and 3 graphics x output/hour x hourly rate for graphics work x # of languages
The third factor that goes into the cost of website localization revolves around content served via a database. There are a couple of issues here that effect the cost of your project.
- Is the content in a format that is friendly with translation tools?
- Is your database friendly with translation?
- What is your database strategy for the actual tables?
- Are any changes necessary to the html to display the dynamic content correctly?
- How are your search queries going to have to change per language?
Assuming you have already extracted the content from your database and it is included in the cost above, then the only real costs associated here falls into engineering hours. Unfortunately, this is very subjective and depends totally on your data configuration and language needs. The best example I can give you is
3rd Cost Factor = database engineering hourly rate x calculated number of hours to make databases translation friendly x # of languages
For every website there is going to be a certain amount of code work. At the bare minimum you might have page encoding issues or meta data which will have to be updated. On the ugly end of the spectrum you might, depending on your graphics, require each page of your site to be re-coded to handle or fit new graphics or dynamic data. You might have form data that will need to be updated. You might have to change character sets for fonts to display properly. This is a pretty big ball of twine and each site is going to be different.
Like the Data Work the best I can give you is
4th Cost Factor = web engineering hourly rate x calculated number of hours to make code translation friendly x # of languages
At the end of the translation project and once the localized sites are all reassembled you will have to spend some time quality testing the sites to make sure everything works like you intended it to. Your costs will be higher if you have someone outside your company do this work, as well as provide them with quality testing maps, but even internal resources will add to the costs.
5th Cost Factor = internal/external hourly rate x calculated number of hours to quality check all pages x # of languages
This is the double whammy cost. You will have costs associated internally with your translation project as well as be charged by your translation vendor for their project management as well. Typically, this is a pretty bulky charge. It is straight forward and fairly easy to calculate.
6th Cost Factor = project management hourly rate x calculated number of hours for the project x # of languages + the charges from your LSP
So, how much does website localization cost?
As you can see it gets pretty complicated pretty quickly.
So what investments do you need to localize your website, and does the payoff make it worthwhile? That seems to be the million dollar question.
How do you calculate ROI? Please comment below: