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Overcoming barriers to export

Export Stamp Showing Global Distribution And ShippingPotential customers we approach often cite a lack of contacts, insufficient market information or intelligence and inadequate finance as the main reasons they don’t export. The unsuitability of exporting their product or service is also a factor.

The internet plays a crucial role in attracting international customers, and a localised google ad campaign can go some way to compensating for a lack of international contacts.  The DIT can also help to connect UK businesses with industry contacts in other countries.

Knowing where there is demand for particular products or services is a further barrier for businesses targeting new markets.The level of risk involved in exporting means that businesses want to be certain that there is demand for their product or service in a particular market and access to market information is seen as crucial. The DIT publishes statistics to steer businesses in the right direction. Another way to test the market is with a microsite, which Web-Translations can help to create. A translated microsite, with appropriate marketing, can indicate whether there is demand in a particular country.  Contact us for more information.

Insufficient finance is also cited as a barrier to exporting. Adopting a reactive approach to export could require very little investment or resources, other than shipping and taxation considerations. However, adopting a more proactive approach could require additional finance. If a bank loan isn’t right for you, consider peer-to-peer lending.  A local Leeds-based company, Rebuilding Society, is a good option for small business loans.

Are you getting the most fun out of your CAT tool?

Here at Web-Translations, two of our favourite memoQ features, the “Do Not Press This Button” button and the Zen mode, have had quite the tumultuous past. Of course, the majority of our highly dedicated, focused freelancers will have been far too busy familiarising themselves with the more intermediate features to come across these buttons, but if they were to look at the top options, they might see something like this:

"Do Not Press This Button" and "Go Zen" in memoQ 2013

“Do Not Press This Button” and “Go Zen” in memoQ 2013

While the biggest names in Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools are continually updating their software to include features that improve productivity and consistency, memoQ developers realised that linguists also need a bit of light in their lives. Kilgray controversially introduced an ‘unproductive’ feature, the “Do Not Press This Button” button, in version 2.3 of memoQ (a long time ago), and the Zen mode soon crept in to join it in later versions.

“Do Not Press This Button” is a light-hearted reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“Do Not Press This Button” is a light-hearted reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [1]

The “Do Not Press This Button” button does exactly what you expect it to, but “The Zen” is a lot more intriguing; pressing “Go Zen” enters you into full Zen mode with spacey background music and futuristic typing sounds, and the “Mostly silent” option turns the music off.

However, users who upgraded to the 2014 version of memoQ soon realised that these lovable features had vanished. Many blog posts and articles speculate about why this happened. Rumours range from a marketing ploy to pure magic, whilst memoQ itself joked that the Hungarian government had introduced an act to combat the “lack of respect” towards Hungary, and this “frivolous functionality” was the exact sort of nonsense they were trying to stop [2]. I almost believed this, until I spotted that the article was written on 1 April…

memoQ users were preparing to mourn the loss, when both features came back in 2015, and they have remained ever since. This got us thinking; should CAT tool developers think more about how enjoyable translation software is to use and how this may also impact productivity?

In an article in the July-August 2014 ITI Bulletin, Bobdan Babych, an Associate Professor in Translation Studies at the University of Leeds, argued that Machine Translation developers should improve the usability and user-oriented functionality of MT software by involving translators, their end-users, in the development process. Perhaps this still applies to CAT tools, as well. One of the reasons why I prefer memoQ to SDL Trados is that its user interface feels a lot more vibrant, young and intuitive, with simpler visuals that make for better usability. Then in April this year, SDL began the countdown for SDL Trados Studio 2019, which, instead of adding new functionalities, has focused on creating a better experience for translators. The prelaunch brochure claims that “SDL Trados Studio has evolved to deliver an improved user experience” by listening to its user base. We’re excited to see how, and if, they have actually changed its interface.

Although memoQ’s “Don’t Push This Button” button and Zen mode may not be particularly useful, we feel that these features improve user experience and consequently facilitate the translation process by adding a bit of joy and innovation to serious software. Fun features can also capture the attention of students learning about CAT tools. For me, CAT tool modules got a lot more interesting when our tutor challenged us with “who can find the Zen mode first?”. Discovering this feature added a bit of light relief after trying to get our heads around cascading filters and TM penalties, ultimately making CAT tools more exciting.

We do admit that the “Don’t Press This Button” feature serves no real purpose at all. A number of forum posts actually complain that the Zen feature is distracting and causes memoQ to have a minor meltdown. We also understand that the music and keyboard sound effects played in Zen mode aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but numerous studies do highlight the benefits of listening to music while working [3]. Of course, it depends on the individual, but if the optional Zen feature improves the mood of certain translators, helps them to concentrate and, therefore, improves productivity, should they be considered as just gimmicky and frivolous?

For now, all we can hope is that developers at Kilgray retain these little buttons of joy in future versions of memoQ, not to mention their much-loved sense of humour. And next time you translate, perhaps take a break from your ’10-hour classical music for studying, concentration and relaxation’ YouTube video, and go Zen! We wouldn’t advise pressing the button though…

If you’d like to look at more (useful) CAT tool features to boost your productivity, read our blog post on concordance searches for consistent and efficient translating:

Referenced articles




Meet the Team – Rachel Jones


I’mRachel blog Rachel, the new Project Coordinator at Web-Translations. I’m really excited to join the team and experience the world of translation from this end, having worked as a French and German freelance translator for a year. Prior to this, I completed an MA in Audiovisual Translation at the University of Leeds and a BA in French and German at University College London (UCL). My master’s in Audiovisual Translation focused on the creation of interlingual subtitles and also intralingual subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. I also learnt a lot about CAT tools and localisation strategies, which has prepared me well for life as a project coordinator. (more…)

Are you ready for international customers?

Before launching your localised website, take time to review your company’s operational procedures. Although you may already sell to international customers, a sudden influx of new international customers could put a strain on your operations. Read on for some points to consider prior to launching an international website.


Warning: You’re losing money by not localising your website

  • In 2017, there were 153,852 exporters of goods in the United Kingdom.  This is up from 141,433 exporters in 2013.
  • Every single UK region had a higher £ value exported last year than the previous year.
  • In Yorkshire and The Humber, the value of exports increased 13.6% from 2016 to 2017.

Why the increase? (more…)

5 reasons why being bilingual doesn’t magic you into a translator

It’s a common misconception that bilingual people are all capable translators.  Based on the terrible translations that pop up occasionally – from advertising campaigns to user instructions for your TV – this is evidently not the case.

Bilingualism is not the only prerequisite for being a good translator (more…)

Put the crossword aside and a learn a new language!

BalloonsWe’ve all heard that keeping your brain active is good prevention for dementia. There is conflicting research about this; some scientists feel that the benefit comes from learning new things, as opposed to processing information you previously learnt. If this is the case, doing the crossword won’t be as beneficial as learning to knit.

Learning a new language is a fantastic option for anyone trying to keep those neurons firing, as it combines novelty, challenge and effort for an effective brain workout. (more…)

The results are in… Our Most Valuable Translator awards

We have had a great start to 2018, and would like to announce
Web-Translations’ Most Valuable Translators for 2017.

We’re extremely grateful to our network of linguists, whose extensive talents allow us to offer translation services across a wide range of industries. We’re privileged to work with many exceptional translators; our MVT awards showcase just some of these.

2017image (more…)

Main concerns of international online shoppers

Presents for family in America  tick

Presents for the kids tick

Present for Grandma tick

Click, click, click.  My Christmas shopping is nearly complete, and 80% was purchased online.  The gifts that haven’t been dropped into my online shopping basket have at least been researched and price-checked online.  Judging by the latest eCommerce research, I am not alone. (more…)

A Latin Music Revolution

Whether you like it or not, it has been impossible to escape the rise of Latin music this summer! From Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’ to J Balvin’s ‘Mi gente’, Latin music seems to be storming both the UK and American charts, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Latin music has experienced various crazes throughout the years, however, with the rise of streaming platforms such as Spotify, its popularity appears to only be getting stronger as Latin music fans across the world can easily listen to this genre of music. This has resulted in many English speaking artists wanting to jump on the bandwagon and break the Latin American market.

It’s clear that Justin Bieber really kicked off the trend of collaborating with Spanish speaking artists in an attempt to create ‘Spanglish’ hits; and that’s exactly what he did! (more…)

Grow your business internationally – our Top 6 tips

Global trade has never been so easy!

The web has removed geographical barriers from international trade. If you can overcome language and cultural barriers, the world truly is your oyster.

The UK export trade is worth millions, and with a well-localised website, you are better positioned to tap into these growing international markets. Positioned between the translation and web industries, Web-Translations offers a unique, low-risk, low-cost approach to international eBusiness.

Here are our Top 6 tips for growing your business internationally: (more…)

There is no word for ‘privacy’ in Russian

Given that for almost all English speakers ‘privacy’ is a normal, everyday concept, it may come as a shock to find that there is no direct translation for this concept in the Russian language.

To English speakers the idea of not being disturbed or having every detail of our lives on display is very simple and natural to understand. However, in Russian, along with various other languages, such as Mongolian and Latvian, there is no word that adequately describes it.


Why does Google Translate work better for some languages than others?

The quality of translations from Google Translate can vary from good to absolutely terrible, and some language pairs are much better than other language pairs.

So, why does Google Translate work better for some languages than others?

Translation fail! The translation should say 'We help YOU to become a customer-centric company'

Translation fail! The translation should say ‘We help YOU to become a customer-centric company’ instead of ‘We become a customer centric company’


Reflecting on Women in Translation Month

Women in Translation month is an intiative developed by The Reading Agency in order to appreciate women writers, including the writers whose works are translated, and the translators and publishers who transfer them into different languages. August was full of events and discussions around this theme, and our Client Services Director, Jasmine, attended an event in Sheffield arranged by Tilted Axis Press. The event featured Korean and Japanese authors, along with English translators who had worked with them. Some of the points raised left an impression and as a team with a real love for languages, it’s worth shining a light on them. (more…)

Certified and Sworn translations

At Web-Translations, we provide B2B translations to help our clients trade internationally.  This includes website translation as well as translation of marketing collateral.

Occasionally we are approached by individuals who require translation of certificates for public authorities to support an application, such as a visa, passport or residency permit, or at the request of other official organisations. Certificates that are requested include birth certificates, marriage certificates and degree certificates.

image courtesy of UKTI

image courtesy of UKTI

In the UK, we do not have the ‘sworn translator’ or ‘certified translator’ concept that exists in some other countries. However, translators may opt to become members of official translation organisations, where they are required to present their translation qualifications before being accepted for membership. (more…)

Are you making the most of your TM? – Concordance searches

Translation memories are one of the most useful tools at a translator’s disposal. They allow us to save translated work to then leverage it at a later stage when translating a new text by providing matches at the segment level. However, many translation theorists argue that whilst these matches are very useful to a translator, a lot of the repetition in a text occurs at the sub-segment level, i.e. individual words or short phrases. This is where concordance searches come in handy for a translator. (more…)

Why keyword stuffing is a really bad idea

Adding keywords to your website, in a natural and readable way, is a great idea, but keyword stuffing is considered a black-hat SEO tactic. Even the phrase itself suggests furtive, shady behaviour; something that you wouldn’t want to be caught doing. There are real reasons behind why you shouldn’t include this method in your SEO strategy.


Google’s Matt Cutts warned webmasters about SEO keyword stuffing and over-optimisation, saying:

“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.” (more…)

Creative Translation in the Spotlight

The likelihood is that all254255_4204 of us will have read a translated book at some point of our lives, even if it was just a fairytale in our younger years. We often discuss translation, and ‘transcreation’, with our clients and fellow translators. This is because, as readers, we tend to spend little time thinking about the challenges a translator may have faced when trying to translate the text we are inwardly digesting.

It is far from reassuring that Daniel Hahn, director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, has described translation as ‘impossible’. But why is it this hard to transfer a story from one language into another? As translators, many of us are accustomed to the widely held assumption that speaking another language makes us naturally able to translate or interpret from that language into our native tongue. The reality is far from this.


Choosing the right domain

Have you seen fewer sites recently?

Many companies with an international presence have moved to a single site with subfolders for each country.

web consultancy
At Web-Translations, we started with a domain in 2003, and as we grew, we added a .com domain, then a .jp domain, and over the next 10 years we purchased domains for many different markets including .es, .it and .pt. It began to get expensive and complicated! In 2014, we moved our primary site to a .com domain, with subfolders for different languages.

Previously, we would have advised against this. Top-level domains, such as .de and .jp, are automatically picked up by search engines, and are therefore good for in-country SEO. However, with newer geotargeting techniques, a single site with subfolders (also known as subdirectories) can be as effective as a ccTLD. (more…)

Meet the Team – Amy Forrester

Hi everyone,

I have recen10959696_10205023503298748_7147275264288063395_ntly joined the Web-Translations team as a Project Coordinator, having just finished my Masters in Applied Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. Prior to this I graduated with a first in Russian and Spanish, again from the University of Leeds. During my MA we studied a module on CAT tools which was geared towards preparing us for the world of translation and the language services industry. I particularly enjoyed this module; especially when we took part in simulated localisation projects which allowed us to mimic a ‘real life’ translation project and workflow. It was these projects which actually introduced me to the role of a project manager and piqued my interest in wanting to pursue a career as one. (more…)

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