Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the United States today. With help from the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends project, we are able to draw several important conclusions that are very significant to your business or organization.  First, some facts and figures, and then some answers.

Fact #1 Spanish language usage is on the rise in the United States

Spanish is the most-spoken language in the United States that is not English – there are over 37 million speakers! To put that into perspective, there were only 11 million in 1980.

Fact #2 The US Hispanic population is very diverse.

There are an estimated 51.9 million Latinos living in the United States. They identify with 20 different Spanish-speaking countries worldwide. Mexico represents two thirds of this population.

Fact #3 Hispanics are leading the way in smartphone ownership and online usage.

The Hispanic population comprises 19 percent of the Millennial generation (ages 18-28), up from 14% for Gen X. This fact might contribute to recent Nielsen findings which show that the Hispanic population represents a huge portion of smartphone, social media, tablet, mobile shopping, and multi-screen video viewing usage market.

What does all of this mean for your organization in terms of your website?

Let’s learn a lesson from the Affordable Care Act’s Spanish language site – cuidadodesalud.gov. When the site launched in late 2013, a lot of issues were reported:

  1. The site was launched late.
  2. The instructions were in Spanish, but they linked to an English form. This has since been fixed.
  3. The site text was poorly translated. The translation of the text was very literal and a lot of critics think it was done by machine translation.
    • Verbs and word orders ready awkwardly and incorrectly.
    • Certain term preferences did not make sense.

The goal of this Spanish-language website came with good intentions: to provide access to the web portal in a way in which Hispanic people could best understand. Unfortunately, the process did not go as smoothly as it should have, and a lot of negative backlash came along with it. Here are some lessons that you can learn from the launch of this website that can help when deciding to launch a Spanish-language website of your own.

Lesson #1: Know your audience

What kind of Spanish are you looking for; who is your target audience? In this case, it was Spanish speakers living in the United States. When looking to translate your website, you can use a Universal Spanish to read the broadest audience possible. However, you might have a specific niche in mind such as Mexico. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to reach out to a professional translator or a native speaker who knows all of the cultural nuances and the most culturally effective way to say something. For example, there are three different ways to say “You” (singular) in Spanish – Usted, Vos or Tú depending on who you are looking to reach!

Lesson #2: Attention to detail

Don’t skimp on website translation! You are already spending time and money to translate your website so why not do it right the first time? The cuidadodesalud.gov website translated into “For The Caution of Health.” The Associated Press reported more specific errors. What all of this did was draw criticism to poor process, planning, and translation, as well as loss of trust amongst Hispanic users.

A great survey done by Common Sense Advisory, named “Can’t Read Won’t Buy” showed that a person is more likely to buy a product or service if it is presented to them in a way in which they best understand. Another example of this was Mattel who created a Spanish version of their site for the holiday shopping season called “Toy Feliz” making wordplay off of “Estoy Feliz” which is Spanish for, “I am happy!” Mattel did their homework and saw this Nielsen report which called Hispanic women “the growth engine of the U.S. female population.”  They wanted to market in the best way possible to these potential consumers.

Providing a website in someone’s native language goes a long way in building trust. A properly translated website shows someone that you care. You want someone to trust in your brand!

Lesson #3: Make your website mobile friendly

With any website that you launch, a mobile-friendly component is a must. Take a look back at Fact #3. Hispanics in the United States are embracing mobile technology at a high rate. Keep your mobile-friendly Spanish site very simple and easy to navigate.

Numbers and statistics don’t lie. Having a Spanish language website will go a long way in connecting with a large group of potential consumers who are ready to engage with your brand, if you are ready to take the necessary steps to provide information to them in a user-friendly format!