DIY for Translators: Creating Your Own Website Part II

Continued from DIY for Translators: Creating your Own Website Part I posted on January 15, 2012

SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Much has been said on the Internet about how to position a webpage for a higher rank on a results page. Google, for instance, has its own rules for directory inclusion (Google Places for business), which if not followed, could cause our website to be penalized or simply ignored by the search engine. Some simple strategies are having a dynamic website (changing and adding new content constantly – CMS (Content Management System) platforms are recommended), using only the keywords we need (in our case, translation, interpreting, etc.) without duplication, manually including our website in directories or search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, or Yellow Pages, and avoiding flash content. We also have to include a privacy policy, a sitemap, and terms and conditions if we accept payments over the web (using PayPal). Once we have all of the above in place, we can start thinking about designing our website. Writing the content is the first step of the web design process (remember the brochure), and we have to make sure it is professionally written. After all, we are expert translators, right? A standard promotional website typically has five pages:

  • Home: This page has to be attractive and engaging. Here we can write a welcome message and a summary of our services and achievements, and include links to our blog, a video, testimonials, etc.; in short, anything that will help make the visitor stay on the website and browse the rest of its pages.
  • About: This is also a very important part of our website. Here we need to say very nice things about ourselves, provide a little background about our education, experience and expertise, clients we have served, what makes us different, and why we are professional translators and interpreters (remember to educate visitors about the profession).
  • Services: In this section, we need to include our offerings and describe our quality assurance process (if any; but it is advisable to have one). We must be very detailed and comprehensive.
  • News: This page could include news or developments regarding our business, the profession or the language industry at large (this is good content for search engine optimization).
  • Contact: The second most important piece of information will be included here. It is crucial to provide a phone number, email address, physical address or a P.O. box address (advisable for home-based businesses). A good strategy is to include a snapshot or interactive widget from Google Maps – the code is available at

The second step will be to decide what tool we will be using to design our website. There are many software programs on the market that vary in features and price. These out-of-the-box solutions are also known as WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) programs, and, as the name indicates, they have graphical interfaces that show you exactly how the final product will look. Some are open source and free source, and others are very costly. They are very popular among professional web developers and designers, but since we don’t have a lot of money or time to learn HTML code (Hypertext Markup Language –the language used to write websites), we can find better solutions.

As I mentioned earlier, the easiest approach to the DIY method is to use standard web and database tools. These platforms have become very popular in the last few years, and many web designers are using them to let their clients do maintenance on their own websites (adding or changing content). These platforms are known as CMS (Content Management Systems), which are mainly geared toward blog creation, but can be modified to look like a regular website. The beauty of these systems is that they have a user-friendly interface that controls one or more databases where the site’s content is stored, and they allow independent management of the content and the design. Thus, it is possible to manage the content (add, delete, or modify) and give the design an entirely new look whenever we want, without having to rewrite or adapt the content. My personal favorite is Joomla, which is open source (meaning we can adapt it as we wish) and written in PHP code. It can be installed manually on a web server (hosting provider) that supports PHP, through the control panel. This platform is free (my favorite word), very intuitive, and developers and designers are constantly creating extensions (features to add and manage content, pictures, video, multilingual content, etc.) which can also be downloaded and installed for free. Another very popular CMS is WordPress, which is also free if the hosting provider’s control panel offers its installation. It features a dashboard where content, widgets and plugins can be managed. WordPress looks more like a blog, and would need some modifications to the PHP code to look more like a website. An easy approach to this would be to buy a ready-made template ( has great ones) and just include our own content.

All of this may seem overwhelming, but we can start by reading more about website design for small business owners (there are plenty of resources on the web) and then begin the design process one step at a time. If we are able to spend time and effort on training ourselves to be better translators and interpreters, we can certainly invest some extra time to have a presence on the web, market our business and reach more clients. It only takes determination!


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