5 things you should know about building multilingual websites

By Stirling Austin

In today’s multicultural and increasingly international world, running a business provides more opportunities than ever before. However, taking advantage of these opportunities is somewhat dependent on good website design, which will need to be truly multilingual to reach its potential. Here are just a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re building your multilingual website in order to push it to its maximum potential.

1. Don’t just use Google Translate

This is one major mistake that many companies make, and by making this mistake a company can immediately come across as unprofessional, confusing, and potentially even offensive given the prospective translation errors. If you can ensure that the content of your website is translated well into every language it is hosted in, you can keep your international customers and prospective international expansion without any risk of losing them to bad wording.

2. Don’t forget the basics of web design

Whilst the multilingual features of your website are important, you need to remember that each user is only looking at one language. That means you need to impress them just as much as a monolingual website. Remembering the basics of design and ensuring that your website functions in an efficient and pleasing way are still as vital as ever. People rarely notice good web design, but letting it slip could be a major problem in the long run.

3. Use a global style and format

Similar to the point above, one thing that is key to your site is ensuring that your entire website has the same format across each language it’s translated into. Otherwise, you risk one part of the website falling behind the rest and deteriorating in quality. Plus, keeping a website with potentially dozens of formats up to date would take a lot of time which could be better spent on improving your single format.

4. Consider cultural differences

Cultures around the world are hugely variable. For example, in China, the number « 4 » is considered to be deeply unlucky, in the same way, that « 13 » is in the Anglosphere. Although this is a minor example, small issues like this need to be considered in order to avoid causing offence. Angering an entire culture with your banner would be unwise, to say the least, so being culturally sensitive in your design process is the best way to avoid these risks.

5. Make language changing easy

This is one of the more important factors. Difficult language changing means you might as well not have the feature at all, so having highly visible buttons the user can press to convert the page is hugely important. Otherwise, users will spend more time trying to change their language than they do enjoying the site. Being unable to read a site in their first language is a surefire way of losing a customer, so make the transition as easy as possible. As English accounts for only a quarter of web users’ primary language, you don’t want to make life on your site difficult for almost three-quarters of prospective users. (Source)

If you need help putting together a multilingual website to draw in masses all around the world, look no further than Pixel Executive. Get in touch today to learn more about our professional services.

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.