In an ecosystem of more than 300,000 developers and thousands of pre-built extensions, the Magento platform has never looked in better shape.
However, finding the right translation extension for your Magento store can be a complex process. So how do you know what to look for and what kind of questions should you be asking before you choose an extension?
Firstly, check whether your preferred extension is on the Magento Marketplace or that the translation agency is an accredited Magento partner. That’s often an excellent endorsement of product quality.
Are you currently running on M1 and planning to upgrade to M2? As you move around the Magento world you’ll want to move with your translation extension. It is recommended to work with a provider that has extensions for both M1&M2, so you don’t lose any efficiencies when upgrading.
Is the extension free? Paying to download a translation extension doesn’t always guarantee a high-quality service. Many of the better translation extensions available are free, so you only pay for translation costs.
Does the extension provide an automated machine translation or will professional human translators work on the content? Machine translation is a fast way of getting your content translated but it is not suited for most online shops. Machines translate literally, but that doesn’t always mean accurately – and that will turn customers away from your store website. Confirm whether it’s human translators who will be translating your content before moving forward.
Does the extension offer full IT/developer support? Often it’s your marketing or sales teams who will be processing, ordering and managing translations, so you won’t always have time to support them. If a translation extension has help documentation, live chat or preferably, proper developer support, then all the better.
Does this extension read most or all of the store content? Look for an extension that reads from your catalogue and lets you translate products, categories, pages and blocks. Can you easily select the different products you want to translate and filter by, say, SKU, Attribute Set Name, Product Type and so on? Having such functionality means that you can be very specific in what content you choose to translate and filter accordingly.
This is useful if you are looking to promote, advertise or highlight specific lines in new markets and it makes it easy to translate that content quickly.
Is the extension API or proxy based? This is probably the most important question as it has significant implications for the workflow, functionality and overall look of your translated stores.
In a nutshell, proxy tends to be more automated when it comes to translating recently added content but it does not allow you to have a different look/design of your translated stores, so you do need to carefully consider which solution to opt for.
Regardless of which option you choose and, assuming you will go for a professional translation service, the content will be loaded into a translation platform and will be translated by a human translator.
Some translation providers also offer a client dashboard where you could track the progress in real time. Once the translator has finished translating your content, the API or proxy triggers a call-back and you can see the job that is ready to be published and view the translated content before it becomes live.
Look for a translation extension which lives in your Magento Admin. This will save time because you could manage the entire translation process within your Magento interface – so there’s no need to contact your translation agency by phone or email to manage the process.
Doron Schwartzblat is Product Specialist at Straker Translations. He helps eCommerce clients use translations to facilitate cross-border trade and use language technology as a gateway to new market entry.