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Website testing

When translating a website one important aspect translators should include in their budget is website testing. It is the equivalent of reading the proofs of a book before it goes to print. In the publishing industry, translators can spot errors introduced by typesetters who are unfamiliar with conventions in a certain language, such as decimal commas in French, Spanish and other languages vs. decimal points in English.

On a website, clients often overlook menu items when sending website content to the translator for translation. Since the menu items are seemingly simple words, web designers and webmasters may decide to translate the items themselves. Unfortunately things can go wrong, as exemplified below in a screenshot from a website that, otherwise, has a good French translation.


The French word for “French” is “français”, not “française”. The latter is the feminine form of the adjective, as in “une entreprise française” (a French company). When used as a noun to refer to the language it should always be spelt “français”, pronounced with a silent s.

Similar mistakes often encountered on websites, but also on hotels and signposts, include “wellcome” instead of “welcome” and “bienvenu” or “bienvenus” instead of “bienvenue”. In Spanish the word “bienvenido” when used as exclamation agrees with the gender and number of the people being addressed, but in French the exclamation is invariable.

However tempting it may be to translate small words yourself, always check with a professional translator to avoid embarrassing mistakes that spoil your company’s image.

Try to work with a translator who is experienced in translating and localising websites. A good website translator can save you time and money by working with the source code, rather than in a Word document that you then have to reconvert to the format of your website, and will thus ensure that all the menu items and headers and footers are also correctly translated. I would recommend arranging a meeting between the person responsible for the web content, the web designer and the translator to discuss the best strategy.