The Impact of Partial Translations in JavaScript Proxy Translation

How can partial translations impact your website quality and brand image?

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In the realm of translation proxies, the technologies can be broadly categorized into two types: browser-based proxies and web-based proxies. JavaScript proxies, which are browser-based, work by replacing text on the client's side, i.e., in the user's browser, using JavaScript. This approach allows for translations to be applied in real time as the page loads, without the need for altering the original website's codebase extensively.  

While JavaScript proxies offer a quick and easy fix for website translations, this method comes with its own set of challenges, the most notable being partial translations. Learn how this impacts the user experience, your overall website, and how you can avoid it! 

How JavaScript Proxies Work 

A JavaScript proxy essentially intercepts the text content of a web page as it loads, dynamically replacing the original language with the target language translation using JavaScript. This process occurs in real time, with the translations being applied directly within the user's browser, transforming the displayed content without altering the underlying website structure or server-side code. 

This includes not only static content but also dynamic content that changes in response to user actions, such as form submissions, live chat interactions, and content updates without the need for a page refresh. 

Advantages of JavaScript Proxy Solutions

JavaScript proxy solutions offer several distinct advantages for website translation, making them an attractive option for businesses looking to globalize their online presence: 

  • Quick Deployment: JavaScript proxies can be deployed rapidly, often with just the addition of a few lines of JavaScript code to the original website. 
  • Minimal Changes Required on the Original Website: JavaScript proxies operate entirely on the client side, meaning the original website can remain unchanged, preserving its structure, functionality, and design while still offering content in multiple languages. 

These advantages make JavaScript proxies a good choice for companies seeking a quick solution with minimal disruption to their existing digital infrastructure. So, why should you worry about JavaScript producing partial translations? Let's explore that…  

What are Partial Translations? 

Partial translations occur when only parts of the website content are translated, leaving other segments in the original language. This can lead to suboptimal user experiences, as visitors may encounter a mix of languages on a single page, potentially leading to confusion and frustration.  

Furthermore, such inconsistencies can detract from the professional image of the business, undermining trust and credibility among international customers. Partial translations can manifest in various forms across a website, often in areas that are not straightforward for a JavaScript proxy to handle. Some common scenarios include: 

Dynamic Content That the Proxy Fails to Capture 

Many modern websites rely on dynamic content that changes in response to user interactions or is loaded asynchronously after the initial page load. Examples include comment sections, user-generated content, pop-up overlays, embedded forms, and real-time updates. JavaScript proxies may struggle to translate this content because they fail to detect or classify this content as translatable upon loading or updating. 

Text Embedded in Images 

Text that is part of an image file cannot be directly intercepted and translated by JavaScript proxies, as these solutions typically only handle text rendered in HTML. Unless alternative text (alt text) is provided and targeted for translation, or an image replacement strategy is employed, this text will remain untranslated. 

Content Loaded from External Sources 

Websites often incorporate content from external sources, such as widgets, third-party plugins, or content management systems. If the external source delivers content directly to the client's browser in a way that bypasses the website's main DOM (Document Object Model), the JavaScript proxy might not intercept and translate this content.  

This is particularly true for content loaded via iframes or external scripts that execute after the proxy has finished processing the initial page content. 

The Impact of Partial Translations  

Partial web translations have several negative impacts on businesses, ranging from undermining user experience to affecting a brand’s credibility and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.  

Below, we explore these implications in more detail: 

1. Compromised User Experience 

The most immediate impact of partial translations is on the user experience. When visitors encounter a mix of languages on a website, it can lead to confusion, frustration, and a perception of neglect or lack of professionalism on the part of the business.  

This is especially true for non-English speakers or when the untranslated content is crucial for understanding the product, service, or navigation on the site. A poor user experience can increase bounce rates, reduce the time spent on the site, and ultimately lead to lower conversion rates. 

2. Damaged Brand Image and Credibility 

Consistency in language and messaging is key to maintaining a professional image and building trust with customers. Partial translations can affect this trust by suggesting that the business does not value or fully support its international audience. A brand that appears to invest insufficiently in communication may be seen as less credible and reliable. 

3. SEO Disadvantages 

Search Engine Optimization is vital for any business looking to attract traffic through search engines. Partial translations can hinder SEO efforts in several ways.  

First, content that is not fully translated may not be indexed correctly by search engines in the target language, reducing the visibility of the site in search results.  

Second, inconsistency in language can confuse search engine algorithms, potentially affecting the site’s ranking.  

Lastly, a poor user experience marked by high bounce rates and low engagement metrics can negatively impact SEO rankings over time. 

4. Legal and Compliance Risks 

In certain industries and regions, there are legal requirements regarding the language in which information must be presented, especially for products and services related to healthcare, finance, and consumer rights.  

Partial translations could lead to non-compliance with these regulations, resulting in legal challenges, fines, and a damaged reputation. For instance, Quebec's Bill 96 requires businesses in the province to provide public communication in French to preserve it as the official language. Noncompliance can result in significant fines. 

5. Wasted Time and Money 

Relying on JavaScript proxies may seem cost-effective initially, but partial translations can lead to inefficient use of resources. Businesses may find themselves needing to invest additional time and money in customer support to assist confused or frustrated users.  

Correcting the inconsistencies introduced by partial translations often requires additional development work, diverting resources from other critical projects or improvements. 

The Advantage of Server Based Proxies 

A web-based proxy (aka a server proxy) differs fundamentally from the client-side JavaScript approach. Instead of dynamically replacing text on the client's browser, web proxies intercept web traffic between the end-user and the original website. They then translate and serve the localized content from its servers in real-time.  

This process ensures that all aspects of the website, including dynamic content, text embedded in images, and content from external sources, are consistently translated before they reach the user, thereby offering a seamless browsing experience in the user’s preferred language. 

By addressing the limitations of partial translations and other challenges inherent in JavaScript proxy solutions, MotionPoint’s server-based proxy enables businesses to achieve their global outreach goals with greater effectiveness and less complexity. 

Learn about how a server-based proxy can ensure your business gets the complete, high quality website translation it needs. 

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About Verity

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Product Manager, Data Engineering