If you run a business and aim to hit an international audience and hit the global market, you need to invest in a multilingual website. What is a multilingual website? Any website that offers content in multiple languages. Even though English is the lingua franca and majorly dominates the internet, stats reveal that 25.5% of internet users speak English. Other popular languages are Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Ikea is a good example of a multilingual website. When you visit the website, you are directed to your native country, and as a result, the pages will be displayed in their country’s national language. With translators, there is often the issue of misunderstandings and mix-ups between common phrases and colloquialisms. On the other hand, a multilingual website is designed for the audience and makes them feel as if a native is communicating with them.
Mainly, multilingual websites are built to provide a seamless experience and boost communication while boosting your brand reputation.
Are multilingual websites always international? Not necessarily. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a major difference between the two. When it comes to international websites, they address an international audience. On the other hand, multilingual websites cater to the audience in different languages.
How to make a website multilingual?
Now knowing what is a multilingual website, you must have cleared any misconception between international and multilingual websites.
Here is a step-by-step guide to making a website multilingual:
Step#1: Pick a Website Builder
The first thing to do before you get started on your multilingual website is to use a website builder. Our top picks are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
Step#2: Sign up for the Right Plan
After picking a website builder, select a price plan that suits your budget. Although there are website builders that allow you to build websites for free, they are not always reliable. And they don’t give a professional look either. Free website building plans are not ideal for long-term usage as they do not facilitate expansion and growth.
As for website builders, their paid plans are a lot less expensive compared to hiring the services of a web designer. Before choosing a plan, comb through the features and the prices as well.
Step#3: Registering a Domain Name
Usually, you can register a domain name as part of the setup process when you are signing up. They should be unique. However, chances are that the website builder that you pick might give you a free domain for a year. This would allow you to select and register your domain for free!
Website builders also give you the ease of purchasing a domain via them. However, if your builder does not offer to do is, you can buy a domain from a registrar and then connect it to your website. It should not belong to anyone else. However, it is faster and more convenient to buy directly from your builder.
Step#4: Pick a Template of Your Choice
Choose a template design for your website. This would serve as the foundation of your website’s design, layout, and page structure. So, take your time in picking a template that you truly love. Moreover, you can also customize your design so it is completely yours. It is quite possible that you are not absolutely in love with all the aspects of your website. However, you should be satisfied, and pleased rather with the general style and vibe because you cannot customize everything.
Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace offer templates that let you create a multilingual website.
Step#5: Design Customization
Once you have decided on your website template, it is time to customize it. The website builders we have recommended above do not have a prerequisite of knowing any code. Therefore, you can create a unique site even if you are not, particularly tech-savvy or possess tech skills.
You can select a font of your choice, change the colors, add galleries, upload your own images, and add your own personalized touch to the website template. Some of the essentials include:
- Logo placement
These are a bunch of basic elements you can customize for a unique design. However, make sure that the color scheme remains consistent across your website.
Now, let’s talk about how to make websites multilingual
Step#6: Translate Web Content
One of the essential components of a multilingual website is translation. Even if you are not fluent in speaking the additional languages that you are adding to your site, there are different options you can opt for translating your content.
You can hire the services of a professional translator or you could even get a neural machine translation service for a quick fix, such as Google Translate. Also, make sure that you review and proofread the translated content because cultural nuances and many grammatical errors have a chance of getting lost in translation.
Pay special attention to date translations. The date format that you use could be different from other countries. It can be confusing and make you miss a meeting or deadline. Be thorough in your research of secondary languages or resort to writing the full month in date to avoid confusion. It is essential to focus on cultural references. If you have added some puns regarding a certain language or country, see that you take up a similar tone and find equivalent phrases.
Step# 7: Use Visual Content
It isn’t only texts that need to be translated. The same logic applies to images as well. If you are offering a localized service and want to put up images from global sites, you can select the images and see that they match the regional language of the text content. For example, for the US you would want to use the Statue of Liberty as a cultural landmark and for a French-speaking audience, you would like to swap the image with that of the Eiffel Tower on your multilingual website. Localizing visual content increases the chances of improved customer connection and engagement.
Step# 8: SEO Modification for All Languages
After completing the translation stage, see that your work can be easily found by the target audience you wish to cater to. For this, you need to ensure that each of the new pages is optimized for search engines. Every international market possesses its own SEO needs and searching habits. You can do keyword research in your new language and then update the SEO settings of your site accordingly.
This would facilitate your business to come in front of potential customers in their native language.
Step# 9: Enable Multilingual Setting
Now your site is ready to become multilingual. And your web content is ready as well. Now your website is ready for visitors of different languages so they can easily access your website. The best thing to do is to incorporate a prominent and easy-to-access language menu. You can use mini flags to represent each language or use written abbreviations. You can also use the combination of the two and customize it however you want. This would make it easy for the users to find suitable options.
It is best to place the language toggle in the primary header. Subtle animation features would add to the appeal and grab your visitor’s attention to the translation option. If they have to search for long on your page, chances are they might leave your page. If you are using two or more languages for your website, it is best that a flag or word icons are used in the header menu. For more languages, a drop-down menu is your best alternative to avoid clutter.
The process of building a multilingual website isn’t simple and can seem overwhelming at first. There are numerous tools and tons of information that you have to give to the users so they can have a satisfactory multilingual experience. After you learn how to make websites multilingual, you are already halfway there. Your website can act as a guideline so you can easily adapt to even 4 languages.
The key is being patient and persistent. Good luck going multilingual!