My friend Gerry McGovern this week published a nice little rant about the “dangers” of publishing a Web site in a non-native language.
Publishing existing content in a language other than your own might be inconvenient and a bit of a burden, certainly. But “dangerous”? Isn’t that a tad… well, melodramatic?
Not in Gerry’s well-thought-out view. Publishing your Web site (or any content, really) in another language is like “managing a brand new Web site,” Gerry says. “It demands people who are expert in writing and editing in that language.”
That is a tall order.
Content standards, especially online, are often poor. Too often, companies turn bad writing into worse drivel—no matter the native language.
For example, “it can be embarrassingly bad for Web sites publishing English as a foreign language,” Gerry says. And that embarrassment spills over in all kinds of negative ways, including less customer confidence and fewer sales. (Ouch.)
What’s completely offensive are the cheapskates who run multi-language Web sites with automatic-translation software. Talk about bad results! Your content ends up sounding like a Saturday Night Live skit. (Unless, of course, that's entirely your intent.)
Here’s where Gerry really preaches the gospel: “Some people just don’t get content. They may understand technology but they haven’t a clue how to judge what is good and bad writing. What is more, they don’t care. They see all content as basically the same.”
Unfortunately, too many such people are running Web sites. But, as Gerry says, they are running them straight into the ground.
Until next week,