Multilingual website: How to build one

multilingual website

A multilingual website goes beyond simply translating content; it’s about creating a seamless and localized experience for users, tailored to their specific language and cultural preferences. This article delves into the intricacies of creating a successful multilingual website, guiding you through the process from planning to implementation and maintenance.

What is a multilingual website?

A multilingual website is a website that provides content in more than one language. This allows businesses and organizations to reach a wider audience and improve their global presence. Multilingual websites can be tailored to specific regions or markets, and they can also be used to reach a more diverse customer base.

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Why you need one

By providing content in multiple languages, you can attract visitors from all over the world. This can lead to increased traffic, sales, and customer engagement. When you have a multilingual website, it shows that you are a global company that is serious about serving your customers in their own language. This can help to establish your credibility and trust among international visitors.

Multilingual websites can also help you rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for local and international searches. This is because search engines like Google take into account the language of the website when ranking results.

If you don’t believe us, these localization statistics speak for themselves:

  • 90% of consumers, when provided with language options, always choose to browse a website in their native language.
  • 40% of consumers would not purchase a product or service if it is not offered in their language.
  • 84% of marketers worldwide report that localization has a positive impact on revenue growth.
  • localizing a website into multiple languages can lead to significant increases in search traffic and new users.

Essential tips for building a multilingual website

Now that we’ve established why you need a multilingual website, it’s time to learn a few things about the process of designing one.

Plan and prioritize languages

First and foremost, identify the countries or regions where you want to expand your reach. You need to consider factors like population, language prevalence, and business opportunities. Evaluate which languages align with your overall marketing strategy and revenue target and prioritize the languages with the highest potential impact first. And don’t forget to research cultural sensitivities and linguistic variations within each target language.

Choose a translation management system (TMS)

A translation management system like POEditor centralizes translation activities, managing file storage, version control, and collaboration among translators. It can maintain uniformity in translations across different language versions, ensuring consistency in terminology and style. Furthermore, a TMS can automate tasks like file splitting, quality assurance, and feedback management, reducing administrative overhead.

Pick a translation service provider (TSP) or in-house translator

When it comes to translation, consider hiring native speakers with extensive experience in translating technical or business documents. Ensure translators possess cultural awareness to accurately convey nuances and adapt to local preferences.

Leverage translation memory (TM)

Translation memory stores and reuses previously translated content, reducing translation time and costs. It helps maintain consistency across translations and improves accuracy by identifying and correcting recurring errors. Note that most TMS and TSPs offer TM integration.

Structure your website for multilingual translations

This involves organizing your content and code in a way that facilitates efficient translations across different languages. Use well-structured HTML code that clearly defines the structure and meaning of your website’s content. Avoid inline styles which embed formatting directly into HTML tags, as this can cause problems when translating and managing website content.

Create a consistent URL structure for all language versions of your website. This makes it easier for users to navigate between languages and for search engines to understand the relationship between different language pages. It’s also important to provide descriptive alt text for all images and embedded media. This ensures that users with visual impairments can access the content and that search engines can index the images accurately.

Create a prominent language switcher

The language switcher is an important part of your website, so make sure it’s easily accessible to users by placing it at the top or bottom of each page. Clearly indicate the available language options using icons, flags, or text. The language switcher should also adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices.

Embrace culturally appropriate visuals

Visuals too play a crucial role in conveying messages and creating a positive first impression on your website visitors. However, it’s essential to consider cultural sensitivities when selecting and using visuals for your multilingual website. Showcase diversity in your visuals, representing various ethnicities, genders, and body types.

However, you do need to try to maintain consistency with your brand identity across all language versions. Whenever possible, use the same color palette, typography, and graphic elements to create a cohesive visual experience.

Optimize for local search

Your website content should reflect local interests, cultural references, and search terms, so make sure to adapt it. Write unique meta descriptions for each language version, incorporating local keywords and phrases. Another way to optimize your website is to use location-specific markup to inform search engines about the targeted geographic region.

Test and refine multilingual performance

Testing and refining multilingual performance is crucial for ensuring that your website provides a seamless and engaging experience for users across different languages and devices. Create a comprehensive test matrix that covers various aspects of website performance, including broken links, font compatibility, text alignment, responsive design, and cross-browser testing.

Gather feedback from actual users in different languages to understand their experience and identify areas for improvement. This feedback can be gathered through surveys, usability tests, or social media interactions. Analytics tools can also help with gathering data to identify trends and patterns that can inform optimization efforts.

Go multilingual with POEditor

POEditor is a localization and translation management platform that can significantly assist businesses in managing multilingual content for their websites. If you’re looking to build a multilingual website, our system can help by:

  • providing a centralized platform for managing all your translation projects. This makes it easy to keep track of progress, access translations, and collaborate with translators, all from a single interface.
  • facilitating collaboration among your translation team, whether they are in-house or external translators, by providing a platform where they can work together on translating and localizing content.
  • offering integration with professional translation services, enabling businesses to access a network of qualified translators directly through the platform.
  • maintaining consistency across translations by utilizing a glossary of terms. Additionally, POEditor incorporates a Translation Memory system, which stores previously translated segments for reuse.
  • supporting a wide range of file formats commonly used for localization, such as JSON, XML, and CSV. This flexibility ensures that you can easily integrate the platform with your existing development and content management systems.

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