Designing and/or building your own website can be great for your translation business. You learn a new skill (HTML/CSS) and get an introduction to a popular specialized vocabulary. However, web publication and presentation are quite different from print. And the skills required to generate content are not the same as those required to translate it. Allow me to share a few constructive observations, based upon my experience working for a branding company, creating my own professional website, and living with a professional web and software developer.
Developing the content
- Less is more. Words may be your business, but that doesn’t mean you have to use a million of them to prove it. Stay focused and succinct.
- Save your qualifications list for your resume. Your client cares about #1—the client. Write about how translation can help increase sales by reaching a wider market, improve communication with foreign partners, or relay the scoop on industry innovations abroad. Encourage clients to invest in your services for their benefit.
- Write welcoming copy. Avoid the phrase “Welcome to my website.” If you do it right, the invitation is implied.
Designing the “look”
- Boxes and lines create rigid visual barriers to your information. Use feature placement and formatting, rather than dark outlines or boxes, to define the sections of your web page. This lets your potential customer’s eyes flow over the page.
- Increase spacing between lines of text for better readability. (Make the leading bigger.) While you’re at it, up the font size a bit, too.
- Make the logo smaller. It only needs to be a few pixels bigger than your h1’s to stand out if you do the color and font contrast well. Think of it as pitching your services in a calm, level voice rather than a shout. Your will come across as much more self-assured.
- Use neutral background colors (white, beige, pale grey, muted blues…) to make the content pop. Visitors to your site will only spend a few seconds deciding if your services meet their needs—do you really want them to spend part of that time distracted by your favorite jewel tone or zebra print?
- Fun colors are okay in small doses. Try that jewel tone on your logo, header, or hyperlinks instead. Use a print as a thin frame around your photos. This will give your site professional personality.
Can you think of great websites that break these rules? Do you have other suggestions for web-ready translators?