A key need is for multi-language platforms, to make sure a company can communicate in the markets it operates. However, multi-language websites are more intricate and involved than you first might think, which is why we have drawn together a few pointers for any project manager looking to kick off the next stage in their website development.
Thorough scoping will unveil if there are any additional language-related considerations and therefore budget and time implications. For example, does your multi-language website require local culture-specific languages too?
Depending on which CMS you use there may be limitations. Ask the question: do all pages need translating? If not, and there is a combination of pages featuring different languages, this could prove more complicated depending on which system you use. Similarly, content can also vary between languages but often the structure of the site needs to remain the same. Understanding the limitations of your CMS early on is key.
Analytics offer the insight and data to create a better user experience for website visitors so ensuring you are working with the best partner is key. Some can provide dashboards for each country site, which when you are building a multi-language ecosystem is essential – the content and structure that is successful in one market may not be in another. It will allow you to see data split easily between each country and share this data between the different country teams.
A multilingual website demonstrates you are thinking about the customer, but it is important to consider the customer across all aspects of the website and not just the language. Imagery, often just as important as copy, might need to change between markets, particularly to avoid cultural insensitivities. Do your research and think local!
This may seem obvious but when briefing your design team make sure they know the layout will need to work across the different languages. Some languages read left to right, others right to left, others might need different fonts so you would need to account for text expansion. The language/country switcher should be easy for the user to find and the language you are switching to should be written in that native language, for example, Svenska rather than Swedish.
Speak to the build team early on to see what they need as soon as possible. As not all translations will be needed universally, some may only be needed for content population whereas other translations will be needed for taxonomy and UI during the build phase.
With any website, you should build into the timeline enough time for any parties to check content especially if it’s in a language you can’t read. We would always recommend creating templates so it’s easy to copy and paste content, and that way if any amends are needed you can track changes easily.
A multi-language website has the ability to open many doors, reaching a larger audience while also being more customer-focused.
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