Does your website speak Spanish?


Why create a Spanish version of your website?

The demand for Spanish online health information is increasing. Hispanic usage of health care websites is growing twice as fast as the general market. In September 2011, a total of 17.2 million Hispanics visited a health related website; this represents 52% of all online Hispanics and an annual growth rate of 31%.

Spanish is the second-most spoken native language throughout the world behind Mandarin. It is also the third-most spoken language in the world. The Hispanic population of the United States is increasing making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority.

Hispanic Population

In 2010, largest prevalence of diabetes were among Hispanic compared with prevalence among white, non-Hispanic and Asian adults.  Making information accessible to this population therefore presents a great opportunity for health care providers. Increasing access to health information in their language can help prevent and manage diabetes as well as other health conditions.

Spanish speaking patients not only have a language barrier when communicating their health needs but also have the barrier of accessing health information in their own languageEven when there is information available  sometimes this information is not translated correctly and is not culturally appropriate. 

From my experience as a bilingual health educator and my learnings from Mass Communication in Public Health course here are 3 tips on how you can create a Spanish version of your website and engage your new audience.

  1. Translate information in a way that meets your audience needs: It is very important to identify your key target markets to ensure that the Spanish you are using is appropriate. Spanish language can vary from country to country and culture to culture. Going with a professional translation agency and looking for a native speaker to ensure the language is localized is highly recommended. Recently the American Diabetes Association made the switch from Spain Spanish to a more Universal Spanish form of language.

ADA Spanish

2. Create a website that offers easy to understand health information: Provide access to download PDF files of educational information or insert health education videos. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a great example of this.

CDC Spanish Video

CDC Resources

3. Connect with your audience via testimonials or sharing of real life stories: The National Center for Farmworker Health is a great example of how testimonials/stories from the field can help connect your audience. The diffusion of innovations theory  indicates that potential adopters evaluate an innovation on its relative advantage. The perceived health benefits gained by the proposed healthy behaviors relative to current behaviors. Sharing of stories can help this potential adopters evaluate the benefits to a change in lifestyle or adherence to medications.

Stories from the fields

Feeling inspired and wondering how to start a website? The following is a list of low cost vendors free tools on the Web today that offer do-it-yourself technology to help you build your first website and/or create multilingual websites: Wix, SquareSpace, GoogleSites, Weebly, WordPress.

The Texas Medical Association placed together a list of Spanish Language Health Sites that provide good examples, click here to view list. This website also provide useful Spanish educational resources.

Texas Medical Association


5 thoughts on “Does your website speak Spanish?

  1. Maria, what an awesome post. I couldn’t agree more with you that there is a great need for Spanish version of websites. when I was working in the nonprofit organization, we struggled with assisting our Spanish speaking population due to our website limitation. I felt as it was creating an extra barrier for this population and felt slightly discriminatory. You highlighted easy ways as how to translate the content. Though many tools are available for translation purposes, I found it that you need a native speaker to translate so the content makes sense and is culturally appropriate. My only suggestion, would be to perhaps no to include as many screenshots, but include the link to the webpage. (of course this is just a personal preference as a reader). Fantastic Job. I will be sharing this with my colleagues with your permission.

  2. Hi Maria,
    A great and informative post on a really interesting topic. We haven’t discussed language in social media but as you point out it is really central to communications in public health. Your illustrations of the numbers of people involved made me think much more about how easy would it be for an organization to translate its media content. A short search brought up two companies, Translate Media and Fliplingo that provide language services specifically for social media or online communications.
    I also came across this slightly old article that was nevertheless interesting, featuring global social networking that are not necessarily known in English speaking countries. Obviously any global health approaches really would have to spend some time considering these features of old and new social media international variations.

    In terms of the posts structure, I thought the headline was clever and caught my attention and I liked your featured image that really supported that content of the post. I thought your use of hyperlinks within the text were well chose and not to overbearing. I liked having the graph image large on the space, but I also found having several large screen shots a little distracting from your written text. It was visually harder to spot the breaks between the image and where you continued the content. One solution might be to have the screen shots smaller but with the option to click on them and open larger in a new tab.

    Thanks for the great topic and nice job on the post.

  3. Hi Maria,

    What a great post! This post is very informative, and the examples incorporated set an example for other languages. I speak Mandarin, and I do diabetes education when I see patients. I can see how beneficial the Spanish version of the ADA website is for patients who face a language barrier. The rule of thumb for providing education is to be understood; as a result, for those who provide education to the general public on a daily basis, making the message simple and easy-to-digest is the most important step for disseminating the message. Lastly, by making the messages to be easily understood, connections stem from the mutual understanding between the educator and the recipients of the information.

    Again, very well done post!


  4. What a great and very important topic! Working for a doctor’s office myself, I know the advantage of having material in several languages. It let’s your patients know that you want them to understand everything being told to them. Language barriers can deter patient from seeking proper care; oftentimes critical information can be brushed off in frustration. By making a simple effort to effectively translate health information, we can greatly help vulnerable populations. Awesome job.

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