Cultural differences you should keep in mind when designing multilingual websites

By Stirling Austin

Creating multilingual websites is a smart move for any business. After all, you’re widening your potential target audience and appealing to a broader selection of people who could then turn into loyal customers. Contrasting this, monolingual websites are often viewed as less accessible to the wider global consumer base and restrict the clientele you could be drawing in.

But creating a multilingual website isn’t as simple as enabling Google Translate. It isn’t even as simple as employing a translator to create fully translated versions of the same website. You have to consider the culture behind the people speaking these languages too.


The design layout of your website may differ from language to language. For example, many other popular languages such as German and Spanish take much larger space on the page when translated from English. This means that your text placement will be displaced upon being translated, ruining the layout of focus boxes, and any subsequent text. Not only this but some languages such as Chinese, Korean, and Japanese, that use different characters to the Latin alphabet, also require more vertical space as well as horizontal.

Icons and imagery

It sounds simple, but it’s something that is often missed by non-native speakers of a language or culture – ensure that all the icons and images you use are not seen as offensive, vulgar, or unsuitable for the people speaking the language that you’re translating into. This could be something as elementary as using an image of a group of white people when you are targeting Indian audiences; just take the time to fully accommodate your new audience and replace any imagery and other contextual content accordingly. The same goes for icons, which may be seen as okay to use in one culture but not reflective of cultural decency in another.


Lastly, you should remember to consider linguistic aspects such as bidirectionality. This refers to those languages, such as Arabic, Hebrew, that use text in both a left-right and a right-left format (oh and there’s Chinese!). Again, this affects how text is placed and read on screens and is something you should always aim to be mindful of when creating a multilingual website.

Get in touch with Pixel Executive today to find out more. My team and I have ample experience in creating websites that are suitable for a variety of different languages and cultures.

Pixel Executive is a full-service Digital Agency. Whether for a simple brochure website, a multilingual website, an e-commerce site, or digital marketing, we help you build your business and your brand. Our team is supported by a network of trusted specialists such as copywriters, translators, and experts in multilingual SEO.  Whatever your requirement for design, content marketing, or website maintenance, we support you every step of the way.