Cost Benefits Analysis Of Multi Language Websites

I’ll be honest with you, multi language websites are expensive.  In this post I want to take you through a cost benefits analysis of a multi language websites to make sure it is cost effective before you start adding additional languages to your site.

What Is A Cost Benefits Analysis Of A Multi Language Website?

Just in case you haven’t come across this term before a quick definition is probably in order.  A cost benefits analysis, is where you look at the costs of a project and weigh them up against the outcome or benefits you will receive in exchange.

This may be monetary such as gaining foreign language sales, or it may be a softer benefit such as clients understanding and spreading your message more easily.

Here is a more detailed explanation, but in plain non MBA speak, it the cost of making it multi language really worth while.

Here Are The Costs

So here are the costs you need to consider when building a multi language site.

Development Costs

How much it will cost to hire a developer to make your site multi language?

They will need to code up your site to accept multiple copies of your copy, make menus translatable, make sidebars translatable. the list goes on.

Each site is different so I cannot give you a ballpark figure, but contact me and I’ll review you site and give you a quote ;), but you can expect a figure starting at $1k.

Infrastructure Costs

If you are hosting your site on bargain basement hosting, you may need to consider an upgrade.

Multi language comes at an overhead in memory, database space and disk space.Added to the fact that a multi language site will hopefully increase your traffic and that will need more powerful hosting.

Translation Costs

This will be a large cost of your multi language project.  As a rule of thumb you can say 10 cents per word for professional translation services.  More obscure languages will cost more as translators can command higher rates, but 10 cents is a good starting point.

When I’m giving clients a very rough idea of costs I like to use this plugin http://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-word-count/ which counts the site wide words in posts and pages.  This then allows me to give rough costs.

An example;  say I have 10k words across my site and want translations into French, German and Spanish, a rough costing would be (10,000 * 0.10) * 3 = $3,000.

And no you cannot use Google translate cheap skate 🙂

It’s Not Just Copy To Translate

Don’t forget to factor in design costs for new images or videos.  It’s not just text that needs to be translated but image copy and spoken word in video and audio files.

Ongoing Maintenance And Translation

Websites are never static, there is new copy and new functionality all the time, factor in another chunk of cash to keep your pages translated and brining back your developer for maintenance updates when you add a new widget that is not multi language compatible.

Managing Multi Language Requests

There are some off-line aspects you need to consider, are you going to have to field custom support requests in new languages too, can you fulfil orders for people that don’t speak you local language?

Perhaps you need to invest in multi lingual staff to make your multi language expansion work.

An option to overcome this is to provide copy in language X but tell potential customers all live communication will be in language Y.

And The Benefits

Sorry to throw all the costs at you first, but I just wanted to be up front with you.

Increased Sales

Will the sales you get from country X justify the cost and ongoing maintenance of your site?

Just because you get $x in sales from English does not mean X multiplied by two sales when you add French or German, be realistic about your new territory income.  Will it pay for the development costs?

Equally don’t forget to factor in that the bulk of the development costs are one off and can be recovered over time when you start getting more and more sales from you new language territories.

Happier Site Visitors

Then there are the soft benefits to your site visitors which cannot be calculated in cold hard cash.

  • Better understanding of your offering
  • The ability to spread your message in their local language social media accounts
  • A warm glow because you care enough to translate
  • An understanding of local sensitivities if you combine cultural design in your multi language site
  • explanation of often complex concepts in their local language

These benefits are soft benefits and it is hard to estimate the offset of costs they will make but if these type of benefits out-weigh the costs, then go for a multi langue site.

Wrap Up

Getting a rough idea of you expected benefits be they hard benefits like breaking into a new territory or $X increase on your bottom line by selling into country Y make it much easer to justify the cost of a multi langauge site.

If you can calculate the benefits I would be more than happy to tell you the costs of your build

Photo Credit: dawn.v via Compfight cc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *