It makes good marketing & PR sense to give your customers the OPTION of getting the information they need from you in the language they prefer; be it because they don't know any other language, they feel like it at that particular moment, or for that specific subject they are more acquainted with your "industry's" lingo in English OR Spanish. It just shows both your current and future customers that you care enough and that you want their business enough to go the extra mile. Be it on a website, telephone answering service, brochures, signage, etc... If you are interested in serving a specific "group" whose native language isn't English, providing your company's information in their mother tongue is the way to go. When all is said and done it will be their decision, but you will have given them the OPTION; that's what's important.
You have to start somewhere… A simple couple of pages with the basics will do it at the beginning, as long as you let people know you are working on it and you keep adding more pages at a constant pace (independently of the speed) making sure to make a big fuss every time you add more pages (on your home page, newsletters, invoices, email campaign, the media, etc).
Be straightforward about the fact that the translated information is still a work in progress, if that is the case, and encourage your customers to give you feedback on how to make the information better. Always, but specially during this period, clearly provide a phone number, mailing address, and email address to which people could direct their questions and comments in Spanish; never assume that they can find this information elsewhere, it should be available on every “Spanish” page they visit.
The beauty of the web is that you don’t need to get it right the first time; you are ALWAYS able to tweak and edit your site in order to make it better.
One big mistake done by many companies on the “Spanish” part of their website is that hyperlinks in Spanish lead to pages only available in English. This is OK only if it is a temporary situation and if you clearly and openly inform readers that this is the case.
Embrace yourself to have people offended on both sides; one group will say, "If you live in this Country, learn its language!"; while others will say, "Just because I'm from [Country of Origin] you immediately assume I can't fully understand English?". It's impossible to make everybody happy; still, the majority of people will appreciate your efforts.
Be sure you have an accurate translation; pay the extra investment... it is definitely worth it. It is not a simple translation job; you have to make sure you are addressing Spanish-speaking Hispanics with the correct words, phrases, sentences, but most importantly, the correct industry terms they utilize; the ones they are already acquainted from.
It is not only having a couple of pages translated into Spanish… Is eventually having your entire website (at least the most critical parts of your website), forms, customer service, terms of service, glossary of terms, search, FAQs, and other contact information available in both languages.
In most situations I recommend utilizing neutral and formal (Usted) Spanish. Even if it is proven that a high percentage of the Hispanic Population is from a specific country of origin this type of Spanish speaks clearly and directly to all.
There is as much, if not more, diversity among Hispanics as there is among Non-Hispanic Whites. In fact, Latinos are present in every segment of society. So always present the information as clear as possible, but not in a manner that may be interpreted as condescending by a more knowledgeable customer. Give options, through Hyperlinks to get more specific and technical/financial information, whenever needed.
It is not only offering a glossary of industry terms, but offering it in Spanish and offering a link that provides a translation of each term (both English-Spanish & Spanish-English).
Each customer must be able to have as much as a unique experience surfing your site as unique the necessities for which they visited in the first place. This can be accomplished by the use of two techniques: Developing of personas and the accurate use of hyperlinks. (My friends Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg from Future Now Inc. are a great resource of information on this matter).
Even if you make an outstanding job with your online presence, it is not worth much if at the brick and mortar level, as well as over the phone you can’t walk the walk you talk about in your website.
As far as Icons and colors are concerned, do try to keep the same overall appearance of the English pages while succinctly incorporating warmer hues of the colors utilized as well as including, if appropriate, faces of both your actual employees and REAL Latino clients instead of models.
Have your multicultural staff (I am assuming you have one; if not… what are you waiting for) participate in the development of the Spanish pages, and have them take ownership of it.
Latinos are jumping in the internet bandwagon in high numbers and at a fast pace. This is being catalyzed by aggressive initiatives like the one from AOL Latino, offering bilingual computer systems along with 1-year’s worth of dial-up internet service, for a total cost of less than the price of a comparably equipped PC elsewhere. On top of connecting Latinos AOL is rapidly establishing strategic alliances in order to provide relevant products, information and services to their new clients in their mother tongue. There are also several other portals fighting for the Hispanic market: Univision.com, Yahoo! en Español, Terra.com, and MundoTeq.com in Spanish. On top of that several Bilingual and/or English language sites catering to Latinos are now available: Searchlatino.com and QuePasa.com to name a few. These facts help reinforce the fact that a Spanish language website is of primary importance in order to sustain and increase our presence among the growing Hispanic population.
Note to regular readers of Hispanic Trending: This article contains bits and pieces of several past articles posted on this site.