Embedded text is untranslated text, courtesy of Google

Google Translate is a great tool for translating content on the fly — and on the cheap.

And as Google noted in its blog, Poland’s Ministry of Economy is taking advantage of this translation engine to provide web users with real-time translated content. The Google Translate engine is built right into the header.

Here’s a screen grab from their site (translated from Polish into English):

However, you’ll notice that the main header is still in Polish.

Why is that?

Blame embedded text.

Embedding text within visuals is a great way to ensure that the text appears exactly how you wish it to appear. But it’s a lousy way to make that text translateable, indexable, etc.

So don’t do it.

You can achieve a similar effect using style sheets and background images. Fonts may vary based on operating system, but even this too can be managed via hosted fonts.

Making your web site “translation friendly” is a great way to make the most of the free translation tools already out there. Eventually you’ll want to get your site professionally translated, but until then, unlock the text so users can translate it for themselves.

Link: Polish Ministry of Economy

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2 Responses to “Embedded text is untranslated text, courtesy of Google”

  1. Jared Smith September 1, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 address this at both Level AA and Level AAA.

    At Level AA (http://webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist#sc1.4.5), you can only embed text within images if you cannot achieve the visual presentation using true text. Your example above would clearly be a failure.

    At Level AAA, you can never (well, almost never) embed text within images.

  2. John Yunker September 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Thanks Jared — this is great to see!