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Multilingual Website Design Tips

Despite only a small number of companies taking the approach to market their business internationally, an increasing number of businesses are slowly but surely launching multilingual websites. For almost all businesses in 2015, the Internet has been their digital storefront, and as such, it’s been important that visibility is available across all potential markets; including international territories. 

For those marketing managers who perhaps haven’t rolled out a brand across different countries and across different native languages, it can be hard to know where to start.  

The ccTLD vs Subdirectory Debate

For years there has been debate as to whether businesses looking to launch a multilingual strategy should roll out individual ccTLD (country-code top level domains such as .co.uk, .fr or .de) or utilize their main .com and roll out international versions in sub-directories such as example.com/de/ or example.com/en.  There’s an argument for both sides, however in the majority of instances, as long as your main domain is established, there is justification for taking the sub-directory route.  Matinée Multilingual, however, have recently put together a great post titled, “Launching A Multilingual Website – ccTLD or One Main Domain?“, a great read that might answer some questions on this topic.

Use Manual Translations, Not Dynamic Widgets

Believe it or not, when you use a Google Translate widget to offer visitors the opportunity to translate your site into their native language, Google’s search engine will NEVER index this. As it’s dynamically generated, there’s no translated version available for spiders to crawl and with this in mind, it’s by no means an approach for those who want to gain a market share in new territories. Yes, it has it’s place but that’s not as part of a multilingual marketing strategy.

While it may take longer and is ultimately be more expensive, you need to prioritize manually translating your content and ensuring that it is done by a native speaker for each target language.  Doing so is money well spent, and at the end of the day, if you’re doing it, you might as well do it properly.

Online Translation Tools

There are many available online translation tools out there such as Babylon’s online translator which effers hundreds of dictionaries and translation in more than 800 language pairs. Search for literally millions of terms in Babylon’s database of over 1,600 dictionaries and glossaries from the most varied fields of information. All in more than 75 languages.

Translate full sentences, get synonyms and antonyms and translate from virtually any language to any language. Babylon counts with millions of users worldwide and highly successful rate of satisfied customers who use its translation software. Users from the most varied backgrounds translate and retrieve information by simply clicking on any document on their computers using Babylon program; it has been voted by millions as the most convenient translation tool available on the market.

Have A Look At WPML

If your website has been developed in WordPress, take a look at the WPML plugin. Short for “WordPress Multilingual”, this is a fantastic plugin which can make your life with your multi-lingual website, much easier. You will still need manual translation, however, WPML will create language specific pages for you utilizing an optimal URL structure as opposed to you having to do this manually.  It by no means does everything for you but gets you well on your way, allowing you to translate menus, header and footer elements, and the main content!

There are A LOT of opportunities for businesses who take the initiative to launch into new markets to grow, though many are still falling behind their competitors.  Don’t let that be you; start planning your multilingual marketing approach today!

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