In situations where companies with large database and thousands of pages in their websites don't have enough time or economic resources to translate these huge sites into many different languages, it makes sense to translate these pages using automated or computer-assisted translations devises.
However, the steps required to translate these pages are not as simple as most people would tend to believe. There are some necessary steps to take in order of making the best translation possible.
Even after careful planning and conditioning, these steps and procedures won't substitute the quality of a professional translation, but again in cases where a professional translation is not economically feasible, we are left with the nifty task of doing the best automated translation possible that we can do given the limitations we might have on time and budget.
When a large site is composed of static and computer-generated sites fed by databases, it will be necessary to first hide or eliminate links toward these dynamic documents. These are the Web pages that usually contain extensions such as .cgi, .php. and .asp, depending in the computer program used to auto generate these pages.
For instance, one top navigation bar might have a link to a "What's New" link, which may contain the latest entries in a database library. However, since most automated translations will be made in intervals of months, even years, it won't make sense to provide links from to a few particular pages that could be updated daily in the original language.
Search Engines boxes:
One third element to consider modifying in the source pages to condition it for an optimal translation is third-party HTML codes. For instance, the original web pages might have their own search engine to find documents; however, if you just translated these pages in French, a French-speaking visitor wouldn't probably be very interested in searching the portal's resources in English.
Since translating the database itself would be a whole different task or enchilada to deal with, one nice alternative we have used before is the integration of Goggle's site query feature in our own sites. In this case, you could use your own search engine software and native databases for your original website, and then use Goggle's technology for the web pages this popular search engine will index in the future.
Banners and Text Ads:
If the website contains advertising in the form of banners or text, we will also need to change them to accommodate our future readers. For instance, if you have a Friendfinder.com's banner in your original English-written site, and you are translating it to German, guess what? There is also a German Friendfrinder version of the site.
With regard to Text advertising, Google AdSense also works just fine with translators; however, you still need to get the right HTML code from Google so it knows that your site is supposed to be in German (although Google's spiders can figure out in what language the web page is written themselves, is still the best rule is to follow the rules of your advertisers so you don't break their TOS and get kicked out of their Network).
Downloading and uploading files:
If you are using a translator such as Systran or Site Translator, you will have to copy all your website pages to your personal computer to make the translation, and then upload it back to your server. This might sound like a lot of work, and at this point you may be tempted to go the easy road and install one of those handy on-the-fly translators that many companies are offering these days in the Internet.
However, when you use these services, you will probably end up paying one way or another. Sometimes when they offer these free services, they will only translate the first 50 top lines of your site and what is left in the bottom remains in the original languages.
On the other hand, the biggest price your client or employer will probably have to pay is in the form of "opportunity lost" of additional traffic. Profit might have also been the main reason you was assigned to this translation task in the first place: New fresh content brings new traffic, and new traffic brings more revenue. But if you send your own traffic to other websites to translate, you are also sending away potential revenues (in the form of "click-throughs" to some of your sponsors).
Also consider the following fact: when you translate your web pages, these webpages are "static" in nature, which means that they are more "search engine friendly". Consequently the cycle continues: as soon as a Web directory or Google indexes your newly translates pages, it will also bring with it more traffic with it, and with it more possible revenue for your employer.
There are many other factors to consider when conditioning a website for automated translation. One of the nicest things you can do for your future visitors is to post a notice explaining them to them that the webpage they are reading is only an automated translated version of the original site, and that therefore there will be many translation mistakes done in the way. Remember, MT's doesn't produce error-free documents.
Maybe someday there will be the time when computed-assisted translations will be almost as good as professional translations. But that day is still very far away, and when that happens, well then professional translators will have to learn a new skill to survive in this highly technological world we are now living.