Tips for effective web site translations for Latin American markets

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

Language is connection

Your web site is your gateway to the world. You have taken great care to build it, fill it with useful information and data, and showcase your products and/or services. Now you wish to pursue other territories, find new markets in countries far away. But, how many potential customers are you losing because they don’t speak your language? How do you make the connection? How can you have a positive impact if you can’t understand each other? It’s simple, really; connect in their language. Translate your website.

The same care you have put into your original web site should be taken to adapt the information for the foreign markets or customers you wish to pursue. People are more likely to stay on your page and click for a purchase when they understand the product descriptions from a native-speaker’s point of view. You connect when you try to grasp what makes them tick (or click).

Here are some helpful tips to help you make the most of your translated web sites for Latin American markets:

1. Make a connection in their language

Nothing shows more cultural respect and understanding for your customers' needs than accurate information, written in their own language. Language is a national pride in Latin America. It is identity, strength. You will build rapport and be appreciated if you care to reach out. A well translated web site will show a legitimate interest in the new markets and will help build trust, allowing you to improve your communications with your customers.

2. Sloppy translations cost time, money and relationships

Proofread your sales, technical and marketing documents in Spanish. Catch and clean all those annoying grammar and spelling mistakes that can be distracting. A poorly translated page is actually worse than no translation at all…sloppiness shows a distinct lack of local knowledge and understanding.

BIG TIP Spelling and grammar are paramount.

Some Spanish words have written accents

that are imperative for the words’ correct meaning.

3. Make it fluid and natural

Web sites should be not only translated into the language, but also with localized expertise to ensure your design and message carry through seamlessly to each particular market or territory. Avoid forced Frankenstein-like phrases created by a hybrid language with the grammar of the source’s language and the words of the target language. The final translation must be fluid and sound as natural as possible.

4. Beware of false friends

Cognates are words that have the same linguistic derivation as another or are from the same original word or root. False cognates (which should totally be avoided) are pairs of words that seem to be alike because of similar sounds and meaning, but actually have different etymologies; they can be within the same language or from different languages.

For example:

For the English word: ASSIST, the correct Spanish translation is AYUDAR. However ASSIST can be confused with the Spanish Word ASISTIR, which means ATTEND in English

5. But...Glossaries are your best friends

Words used throughout your web site and sales and marketing literature must be consistent. Your text may contain acronyms, synonyms and abbreviations that can cause confusion or even frustration for the readers, as well as for the translators. Thus, it is useful to create a glossary of terms with your translator, in order to eliminate uncertainty and ensure that the correct terms are being used within the new variant language.

A glossary, sometimes referred as lexicon, term base or terminology collection,

is a document that helps you to make sure that your translation is consistent

and has the right terminology.

6. It's all in the context

Some words may have multiple meanings and interpretations in various fields or industries in the other language. For example: “equipo” in Spanish can be translated into “equipment” in English, but it can also mean “team”. Consistency and accuracy are essential to the quality of the translation, so each word or idea must be placed in the context of where it is most appropriate.

7. Technical jargon

Even if your translation is all technical, such as for owner’s manuals, user guides, product data sheets, etc., only 5-10% of content is actual technical vocabulary. The rest is normal and ordinary language. So, it is equally important that the text be translated in a culturally appropriate and naturally flowing style to convey the accurate meaning without falling into the dreaded literal translation.

8. Spanish is not Mexican!

No matter what they tell you, Spanish is not Mexican! Don’t use the Mexican flag on your web site as a sole “go to language” button, unless you are targeting specifically that market. There are 21 Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, so if you can’t fit all those flags into your web site, use a simple button with the word “Español(with a “ñ”, not and “n”).

9. This is your "correo electrónico"

Your English-speaking customers can contact you through your specific email that looks something like “”. When opening up to contacts from Latin America, it is a good idea to create a new email specifically for that territory. So “” is perfect.

Need a fresh pair of eyes for your translated web site weak spots?

Contact us at and we will help you connect faster an easier with your Latin American customers.

#WebsitesSpanishtranslations #LatinAmerica

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