The gist of it

Would you buy a product or service from someone you don’t know if you only roughly understand what is being offered?

The answer might be yes if you are on holiday in a foreign country, presented with a variety of desserts you have never heard of in a language you don’t speak fluently. You probably take the risk and try something new. After all, it is not going to cost much and you could get something delicious.

The answer is more likely to be no if what’s on offer is more complex or a serious investment, such as a piece of equipment or a valuable service. In this case we usually like to understand – rather than just get the gist of – what it is before we purchase it.

It is astonishing how often you find companies offering great services or products on their website with a machine translation for people who speak a different language. They clearly intend to look after clients in other language markets. However, would you be attracted to a text which is incoherent and gibberish?

A poor translation can easily put readers off your website altogether. It might even be safer to have no translation instead and rely on the assumption that people understand your language well enough to make a purchase decision. As good as they are for translating single words, machine translations are no match for the human brain when it comes to context and sense.

If you really want to attract customers and get a foothold in a different language market, do it properly and get a translation that works for you, done by a professional translator who knows how to convey your message in the target language and culture. This way you help potential customers understand who you are and what you can do for them. They will thank you for it.