What is translating? We define it as the process of reading, understanding, interpreting, rephrasing and delivering an original message, while capturing all of its subtlety and impact, to a new audience in its mother tongue, in the context of its indigenous culture. The best translators love words of course, but more importantly they love the life that words depict. They are the connection between the creators of a message and a new audience somewhere that would be incapable of getting that message without their help. Translators, especially of Web pages, are experienced specialists whose job challenges them on a daily basis. We've all been amazed at the breadth and depth of human knowledge displayed on the Web. Imagine translating it, not just skimming through it!
A translator's basic responsibility is to be “true” to the original text. If we consider a translation to be a form of inter-cultural message, then we should evaluate its faithfulness to the original on two counts: how the original message is expressed in the target language, and how it is received by the target audience. The translator is responsible for both of these steps in the communications process. The Internet in particular is teeming with audience groups who will receive the same message in different ways depending on their cultural background.
The upshot of all this is that a translation agency must have access to experts in each source and target language that it serves, not to mention each subject matter, writing style and language dialect. A subject matter can be learned, but for this intent and purpose, a target language or dialect cannot. The top agencies maintain contacts with a long list of specialists, calling on them when an appropriate job comes up.
Key to a high quality Web site translation is the willing participation of you, the client. If you're translating your Web site for a market where you already have distributors or representatives, then by all means ask an employee in that market to be on hand to answer questions and to review the completed translation. Your representatives will generally be eager to help since they will suffer or benefit from the consequences of the translation quality in the long run.
Whenever available, you should supply the translator with company literature in the source and target language, and a bilingual glossary of domain-specific terms. A translator cannot be expected to know which terms are favored by your company in a given market, and which are considered the property of your competitors.