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Should You Ask Family or Friends to Do Your Website Translation

Wendy Pease

Wendy Pease

As a young child, Wendy lived in Taiwan, in a small farming town where we were the only blond-haired children. There was no electricity or running water in the town. I enjoyed going to the local festivals and fairs to see the food (full pigs, fish with eyeballs, snake water), Chinese street theater, and the people. Through these experiences, she fell in love with the languages and cultures of the world. I also came to understand that people around the world are similar – they want love, security, contribution, and family. Although, how people communicate can be quite different and lead to miscommunication and trouble. She is now the CEO of Rapport International, a language translation agency in Boston, Massachusetts.

You have a website, documents or materials you need translated. Maybe it is something as simple as an email, or it could be as complex as a legal document. Since you have a friend or family member who is bilingual in the language you need, should you ask your friend/family to do the docutments, or website translation for you?

That depends. Of course, there are benefits to this choice, they are willing, easy to find and cheaper than a professional. But there are drawbacks – primarily, do they have the skills to provide a high-quality translation?

Choosing a Bilingual Family or Friend

While there is something to be said for convenience and familiarity, there are several reasons a bilingual friend or family member may not be the best option if you want good quality translations. This person may…

  • Unintentionally change the message when interpreting or translating because their language skills may not be up to par
  • Not understand the meaning or feeling you are going for, so they use their own interpretation
  • Have poor quality writing and grammar skills
  • Change your meaning on the translation due to an emotional response or personal biases
  • Lack the knowledge of the type of content you need translated –marketing, technical, legal, etc.
  • Share information with others and violate confidentiality regulations
  • Purposely edit your message to what they think is best without telling you

We’ve seen all these instances happen before clients come to us for a professional website translation.

When you need something translated that can impact your business or reputation, a friend or family member may not be the best option.

Benefits – Cheap and personal connection

Risks – Quality and liability

Other Website Translation Options

Some of the options beyond using a bilingual friend include:

  • Machine Translation
  • Distributor
  • Employees
  • Crowdsource
  • Independent Translator
  • Language Service Provider (LSA) or agency

These options rise in cost as you progress down the list, and each comes with its own benefits and risks. As with any purchase, you sacrifice quality and service as you go to a lower price point – or as they say, you get what you pay for. Consider your risk/return and choose the right option to perform your translations for the highest quality and ROI, and lowest risk.

For more information about the other options and for answers to all your document and website translation questions, visit our Resource Library at

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