Free Website Translation: Take A Test Drive
Despite its pronounced advantages (free and instant), a free website translation tool has one BIG disadvantage, the painfully (or laughably) poor quality of translation output, that undermines its benefits.
Some developers of free website translators tell credulous businesses cock-and-bull stories about the possibility of using free online translators to market to and build trust with foreign web users. "Just put our free website translation tool on your web pages," they say, "and your visitors will be able to read your website in their native language."
What's the good of telling such stories, I wonder? They are half truth. The output free machine translation tools produce is difficult to understand. What is worse, though, is that it can be completely incomprehensible and misleading.
To get acceptable machine translation output, one has to write "for machines." That is, to write in a plain or controlled language. Post-editing by professional translators can further improve the quality of machine translation output. Moreover, if you are a legal entity and use a free website translation tool, publish appropriate disclaimers and warnings about the inaccuracies of such translation. These points are described in detail on my page devoted to web page translation.
To my mind, it's OK for personal websites to use free online translators. But if a commercial website resorts to free online translation services in the hope to get a competitive advantage with "multilingualism," I feel sorry for such websites. A poorly translated website will rather scare away than attract prospective clients.
For commercial websites, machine translation can do only in combination with human post-editing or a crowdsourcing model. Another solution may be to get professional human translation of "static" pages with important information (company info, mission, history, management, description of products and services) and let free website translation tools translate "dynamic" pages (news and other frequent updates). If a company cannot afford a professional translation service in any form, than perhaps it is not yet ready to expand beyond its national borders.
If you want to "test drive" free website translation, start from using the below free website translation tools. Enter the URL of your website into each of the boxes, choose your language pairs and press the "Translate!" button. Compare the translation results. Do you understand the translations? Are you satisfied with them?