Tess Whitty goes through some of the essential steps to help you set up a website that will make it straightforward for potential clients to understand your work and contact you.
A website is pretty well a must-have for professional freelancer translators and interpreters these days. And today’s website platforms mean it’s easy to build one that looks professional. But how do you make the most of it, so that the right clients can find you easily?
From the top: good planning and clear design
Even if you already have a website, you’ll still benefit from asking yourself the following questions:
What is the purpose of my website? Structure your site around its purpose.
What host and template should I use? There are several platforms to choose from, and most of them can give you what you’re looking for. If you want popular, go WordPress. More than 50 per cent of the websites on the internet are built using the WordPress platform. If you want a custom layout later, it would be wise to go with WordPress (WP), since most designers are well versed in using the platform. However, if you want to start easy, with done-for-you platforms, there are many options to choose from: for example, Wix, Weebly and Squarespace.
What content will I need? Start by putting yourself in your clients’ shoes. If you were looking to get something translated, what information would you be looking for? Is there something about your services they should know? After this exercise, outline the kind of copy you’ll need. At the bare minimum, you will want a small biography, a concise list of services, and some contact information.
General design tips for website beginners
You don’t have to hire a web designer, but you’ll need to make sure that your website has the following:
A professional logo: Your logo is a key part of your branding and needs to be prominently displayed. Make sure you use a high-resolution image and place it in the upper-left corner of your website.
White space: It’s easy to overload your visitors with flashy images and multiple calls to action. But don’t do it. Instead, keep things focused and make ample use of white space.
High-quality images: Good images draw the eye and provide an emotional connection to the content. Just make sure they’re relevant. While you may love your photos from Japan, they’re not exactly the best way to broadcast your German to English translation skills.
If you’re having a hard time finding images, try stock-image sites like Pexels, Unsplash or Shutterstock. These platforms provide some stock images free, whereas others require a small fee. Always, always check whether you can use an image, and always credit the photographer and agency if you can.
Prominent contact details: Put contact information in the top half of the screen. And make sure it’s set out in a way that makes it easy to notice and use.
A responsive design: In web design, a responsive website is one that adjusts to the viewer’s screen size. With more than half of all browsing occurring on smaller screens, it’s important to keep screen size in mind.
A good colour scheme: Make sure your colours go well together. If you find that your text is hard to read, change it. If accessibility is a particular concern for you, look at some of the work that has been done in this area by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and other organisations.
Content must-haves for your translation website
What content and types of pages should a translation provider website have? Here are some suggestions and recommendations:
Home page: This is where people come first, and it is here that you need to convince them to read further.
About page: Tell the visitor who you are, what your company does and how you can help your potential clients.
Services page: Describe the services you offer in more detail – for instance, translation, proofreading, voice-over, interpreting, editing and so on.
Contacts page: You should have contact information on every page of your website. But it is also important to have a separate contact page where you provide all your contact information, and perhaps a form that the client can use to contact you.
Sample translations and testimonials: Clients want to see examples of what you’ve already done. The best way to do this is through testimonials from previous clients and sample translations (or links to them) so that the potential client can see your translation style and quality.
Your own training, certifications, publications: When you develop your website further, you can add a page where you list your education, degrees, courses and qualifications. If you have any certifications or publications, you can also list them here. These increase your credibility and testify to your expertise. Remember to include your ITI membership too.
Make sure all your copy:
Helps you meet your goal: If a line or paragraph doesn’t help your clients see the value of your services, it needs to go. The more goal-focused your content, the better it performs.
Motivates your clients to take action: People come to your site because they’re looking for a translator or interpreter. Make it easy for them to see what you can do, and how they can engage your services.
Lessens a customer’s fear: Clients don’t want to be swindled or overcharged. Therefore, it’s important that you have content that lets them know you’re offering good-quality translation or interpreting. This can be as simple as explaining your qualifications or featuring client testimonials.
Before launching your new or updated website, go through this checklist to make sure you have considered these vital elements. If you can answer yes to the following questions, the content of your website is already working hard on marketing your services and attracting clients.
- Are your contact details easy to find?
- Does the content address the needs and wants of the target audience?
- Does the content show what you can offer?
- Do you have a way to add fresh content consistently (such as a blog), and if so, do you have plans to update it regularly?
- Is your content free of spelling and grammatical errors?
- Is your copy free of industry jargon that visitors may not understand?
- Are you using keywords appropriately?
- Do you include examples where necessary?
- Do you have client testimonials in a prominent place?
- Are your paragraphs short and to the point?
- Do you use bullets to break things up?
- Do you have a search bar on each of your pages?
- Is your contact information prominently displayed?
This article first appeared in the May-June 2021 edition of the ITI Bulletin.