Tech Talk: Proxy-Based Website Translation
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Tech Talk: Proxy-Based Website Translation

Tech Talk: Proxy-Based Website Translation
Pact with the DevilWhen Translating Your Website is Like Making a Deal with the Devil

Localization people are notoriously wary of any proposal that requires IT involvement.

That’s because localization is important enough to be recognized as a core requirement, but not important enough to get priority resource allocation. Between that fact and the understandably conservative nature of the average overworked and under-budgeted IT department, IT’s answer to localization requests for new tools, special configurations or access privileges is often a resounding “No.”

Too Good to Be True? Most Likely

Smartling’s GDN offering, Translations.com’s OneLink and Motionpoint have exploited this dynamic to offer an approach to website translation that bypasses the need for IT involvement.

Buy their service and they will “scrape” the content off your public website, localize the content for each of your target markets, and host the localized versions on their servers. When someone calls up your URL from an international location, the request is routed to the vendor’s servers, where the appropriate localized version is delivered. The vendor’s servers function as a proxy for your corporate URL, so this type of solution is known as “proxy-based” website translation.

Proxy-based systems also promise to keep your localized versions current by crawling the source website for changes and automatically queuing the work for translation. So you won’t ever have to ask your IT department to hand over the website files for localization, now or whenever they change – and you won’t require IT to manage a server hosting the localized versions.

Future-Proofing Your Website

It sounds great, right? Well, according to Jon Ritzdorf, a solutions architect with Moravia, buying a proxy-based solution is like making a deal with the devil.

You’ll spend all this energy and money to have your site “scraped”, but you’re basically tied to that vendor for all eternity. What happens if your proxy-based system vendor goes out of business? Your entire investment in localizing your website for 35 markets vanishes. Your international presence disappears. Some vendors promise that won’t happen, but what guarantees do you have. Jon encourages you to ask: but you probably won’t get a very satisfying answer.

Also, what happens if you’re unhappy with the provider’s service? Maybe the translation quality drops off, the rates change, or the customer service is shoddy. Once you drop all that upfront cost localizing your site, you are locked in.

As technologies and platforms evolve over time, there’s no way to predict what’s around the corner, so your goal should be to “future-proof” your website. Proxy-based systems lock you into the past.

According to Jon, you should never feel so afraid of your IT department that you go down the path of proxy-based systems. All you need to do is sit your LSP down with your corporate webmaster – often a third-party design/maintenance firm, which is entirely separate from IT. The webmaster and LSP can hammer out what needs to happen to localize the site files, serve them up appropriately to the target markets, and implement a process to keep the site files up to date.

If you’re interested in straight talk about localization tools and technologies, this blog series is for you. We’ll share candid thoughts on how to evaluate key solutions for common localization challenges.

Have you ever considered proxy-based website translation? What did you decide to do, and why?

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