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Building a Tourist Community Website With WordPress: Multilingual Contents and Translations

By Amir Helzer of ICanLocalize

lake around bariloche, argentinaWith your help beginning in the first post on how to build a tourist community website with WordPress, I’ve been so honored by your collaboration and help to improve my community’s new tourist site, Baripedia, representing my town, Bariloche in Argentina.

With your guidance, you helped me determine which WordPress version and setup to use and how to manage the content on the site, understand better how navigation and usability, the visitor’s experience, is most important to consider when designing a blog, and now I might be able to help you with one of the most critical decisions you have to make when you present information on your WordPress blog to the world, not just your neighbors and friends.

It’s very little coincidence that tourist related sites allow multilingual contents. After all, they’re supposed to be attracting visitors to their site and to their destination from all over the world. Providing information to them in their language is very important.

Machine Translations or Human Translations?

The easiest thing a tourist blog can do is add free machine translation. WordPress makes it easy. Instant machine translations can be added to a WordPress blog in a few minutes. Most of them are free and cost nothing. Global Translator WordPress Plugin by Nothing2Hide and EHT Translate WordPress Plugin are popular, but we want more for Baripedia, our community tourist site for Bariloche, Argentina.

Example of machine translation on a Baripedia article

Example of machine translation on a Baripedia article

What’s better than machine translations? Come on, you’ve seen the results from translations on Google Translate, AltaVista, and other machine translation services. While it gets most of the words right, it often doesn’t understand the fine details of a language like cultural references or technical jargon. Few even recognize the word “blogging” though it’s part of our life today. To service our potential customers, we need to do better.

To do better, we need human translation.

Although machine translation makes pages somewhat readable, visitors’ confidence doesn’t exactly sky rocket when they read your articles written in a broken language, with errors ranging from funny to weird. To date, the computer that translates doesn’t really understand what’s being translated. The computer uses patterns and sentence logic in order to figure out what goes where, but the bigger picture is lost.

If we want English speaking visitors to move from our informational pages to the business pages and then order, we must build confidence. Rather than say that ‘this page was translated by a machine’ — which might cause a concern — we’ll highlight how they they can contact us, in their language, if they have questions.

With quality human translations and professional quality writing, if someone does use a machine translation on our site, the translations is often much better, too. A bonus all around for the website owner.

For Baripedia, we were clear from the start that we wanted to offer more. We needed human translators for all of our site’s contents. So which languages do we translate?

Who Do You Translate For First?

This is a hard question for many blogs and websites. Which language audience, and country, do you service first? The answer is not as simple as you might think.

Some sites start with whatever is the largest population for a language in the world. That would be Chinese and Spanish according to most. That’s great if you want to attract people from Chinese and Spanish speaking areas and descent, but isn’t it more important to write for who visits your blog rather than for the whole world?

Look at your blog statistics. Where are your visitors coming from? If you are running a business with your blog, then what are your business geographical demographics?

For a tourist business, we have to serve the language of those most likely to be visiting our area. For the most part, that was easy to guess, but it took a little research of our demographics to determine the reality of our demographics, not just the assumptions.

Based upon our research, Spanish is the leading language for our visiting tourists and site visitors. English and Portuguese is next. As our community grows in the tourism industry, we’re starting to get more visitors from other places around the world, so we’re now watching our geographical stats more closely to see which language we need to choose next.

Since we’re spending a lot on building quality Spanish contents, we want to have the same level in English and Portuguese. This is why we chose to go with human translators, and put more energy into my company, ICanLocalize, to help others facing this same international challenge.

icanlocalizeSince our human WordPress translation system is now on launching on ICanLocalize, it’s only right that you be among the first to try it out. We’re offering 5,000 words a month translated by humans for free for those who sign up now. This is a limited offer to test our new WordPress Plugins: ICanLocalize Translator and ICanLocalize Comment Translator.

What’s Next for Baripedia’s Development?

I’m not done asking for your help and collaboration on this project. We’ve dealt with how a community tourist blog should be set up, how the content should be written, navigation and related content, and now translation services. What’s next?

What other features do you think we need to get this community tourist WordPress blog going and supporting our local tourist businesses? Have I missed anything?

Gracias por su colaboración!

By Amir Helzer of ICanLocalize and Baripedia
Helzer is the founder of ICanLocalize, a human translation service for websites and publishers, developer of Baripedia, a community tourist website and WordPress blog for Bariloche, Argentina, and a web developer.

Articles in the Building a Tourist Community Website with WordPress Series

One Comment

  1. Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    This is very good. I think translate is bad because people should learn the new language.I learn English at languagelab.com and they tech me lots of things. You have made a a very impressive site so far. I look forward to reading and learning more.


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