8 Tips for Building Multilingual Websites

Last Updated On: June 7, 2022

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Tips for Building Multilingual Websites

There are eight approaches that can be used when translating websites which are described below.

1) Machine Translations

Machine translations can be tempting, because they are a quick and cost-effective choice.  Small businesses and even local governments are using this method to reduce translation costs. However, the main drawback is doubtful accuracy. 

Machine translations shouldn’t be used on websites that provide key information, like health information, because translation mistakes could have serious implications for the user. There are pros and cons of using machine translations. Pros are the low cost and easy to update the translation. The cons are lack of quality control, higher risk of a mistranslation occurring, and misinterpreting the context of the translation so incorrect words are often used causing confusion and misunderstanding for the reader.

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2) Translation of a complete website

The most comprehensive approach for website translations is to go ahead and translate all the website’s text and materials so that the message conveyed can be understood easily by users. This provides the most complete user experience and all of the information is made accessible to the user and in their own language. However, it is often not chosen by website owner because it is not only expensive but there is a lot of planning involved. Reorganisation of the pages may even be necessary if the language to be translated uses more words than the source language.

3) Make up a single page for each language

This sort of approach is taking the middle ground and it is cost-effective but still offers professional information but in a shortened form. The disadvantage of providing a mini-site for each language is that it doesn’t provide all the information that a user may prefer and much of the site is still in the source language which may distract the user or they may lose the confidence they have in a product or service that they are truly interested in.

4) Localise as well as translate

Apart from ensuring your written translated content suits your audience any images should be localised too.  A culturally adapted image is part of localization and images are often the first thing a user is likely to focus on when opening the page. The wrong colour or badly translated caption on an image could put off the user from the start. 

5) Consider search engine optimisation (SEO)

You would like your website to be the first to be seen on Google’s result pages. The higher the rank of your website the more clicks you will get from people. You should consider doing the following:

  • Putting translated text into HTML rather than uploading word docs or PDFs onto your site.
  • Getting your metadata translated such as all of the text, meta descriptions and meta titles;
  • Getting the URL slugs translated.
  • Applying the Hreflang tags.

6) Make it simple to locate the translations on your website

All multilingual websites should be made user-friendly and this means using an identifier for each language on your home page so the user doesn’t waste time looking for his or her language. It could be a flag of the country that speaks that language.

7) Consider your calls to action

If you are asking users to fill in a form, ensure the form is made available in different languages. Also if users are being asked to call a number, ensure that services have been organised to assist anyone who doesn’t speak English to communicate by phone.

 8) Promoting the Multilingual Website

Once everything has been set up for your multilingual website you need to make sure you promote it to your targeted audience.

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