Your company's website is the heart of its online presence. It's often the first and most comprehensive impression that people get of your organization, which is why it needs to be effective at conveying your company's unique selling points.
Building a successfully targeted website in one language is challenging enough, but doing it in multiple languages can be especially hard. Here are five best practices for multilingual websites that will help your company deal with the challenge of building a website that engages with markets in different parts of the world.
Consider text size fluctuations
When you are translating website content, remember that changing from one language to another will often result in text expansion for the target language. Sometimes, these changes are dramatic; when translating from English to Italian, for example, it is possible for text size to expand by 30%. Remember to keep these fluctuations in mind as you are planning the layout and design of your multilingual website.
Make it easy for users to pick their language
It can be a frustrating endeavor to figure out how to translate a website into a new language, which is why it is important that you make different versions of your website easily accessible to users. Try to create an intuitive drop-down box or similar menu, and place it somewhere most people will look, such as the top corner or sidebar of the page. Also, be sure that the different page languages you use are easily accessible by search engines. Google indicates you should keep content for each language on different page URLs so that search engine crawlers can have an easier time finding them.
Create intelligent content
Intelligent content refers to content that is structured, labeled, and adaptable to several different formats. The benefits of intelligent content with website localization are numerous. Using this approach can save you time and money during website translation, because you can break down the process into smaller chunks and don't need to send an entire page or set of pages off to be localized at once.
Automate whatever you can
Automation isn't a substitute for effective human translation services, but when applied properly, it can be a great supporting tool. For example, once you identify the way that your website content needs to be gathered for translation, you can use an automation tool to collect the content and then send it to a translation database that you use. This automated process will save you time and man hours. Be careful, however, that you do not automate so much that it has a negative impact on the quality of your translated content.
Remember that your multilingual websites will need as much development as your main website, especially in the early stages. Make sure you are continuously working toward building a strong connection with your global audience and continually make changes based on user feedback and customer experience surveys. The more time you put into understanding the desires and needs of a new market, the more likely it is that your website will have a positive impact on these markets.
Whether you have experience with translating websites or not, following these best practices is a wise decision. Another great way to ensure that your websites are properly translated is to retain the help of a skilled localization services provider. These kinds of organizations use certified processes and approaches to translation and localization so that you can maintain your brand image yet still appeal to a group of customers who literally speak a whole different language.