Building a Website with Multiple Languages

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Is it enough to have one website in one language? Not really. One of the benefits of the Internet is that you can reach a global audience at any time. This is great, but if someone in your audience can’t comprehend your website because of a language barrier, then you have lost a potential customer. To maximize the potential offered by international markets, you must be able to translate your website into multiple languages.

Advantages of a Multi-Language Capable Website

For any business that wishes to gain a competitive edge, a multi-lingual website is a necessity. With a multi-language website, you can be assured of an expanding customer base along with an increased sales volume while at the same time building the credibility of your brand or company among your target customers.

You might be surprised to discover that most Internet activity takes place outside the United States. In fact, approximately 60 percent of Internet usage occurs in Asia and Europe. Consequently, if you have a single-language website, you could be missing a massive target base. A multi-language website also offers a cost-effective marketing strategy by increasing brand awareness on an international basis. Most customers will welcome any new service or product for which information is available in their preferred language. By offering information in a customer’s native or preferred language, you will be able to demonstrate improved customer service, which leads to increased opportunities to engage with that customer and build trust and loyalty.

Trust can be quite important when it comes to online sales. People naturally tend to trust a site in their native language more than a website in any other language. When the option is available for a customer to use a website in their preferred language, he or she will feel more secure about the website as well as conducting transactions on that website. Offering your website in multiple languages can also provide you with a strong competitive edge. If your competitors do not have a multi-lingual website, you will stand out from the crowd. In the event that your competitors do offer their websites in multiple languages, you can be assured that your brand will not be left behind.

While Google, Bing, and Yahoo are popular in English-speaking countries, that is not the case around the world. In many countries, homegrown search engines are more popular. These search engines are based on the local languages spoken in those countries. To tap into the markets in those areas, it is critical to ensure that your website is available in the relevant language.

What You Need to Do It

Once you have made the decision to offer your website in multiple languages, you need to know how to do it. Building a multi-lingual website involves much more than translating the content on your website. You must also ensure that your website is capable of handling multiple language versions.

Most webmasters will utilize the same URL tree for each language version of their site. This can be done by creating a subdirectory or a subdomain for each language version. If you choose to use subdomains, and you want a second site in Spanish, your Spanish-language site might be http://es.yourwebsite.com/. From that point, you will mirror the structure of your website for each language. To assist users in finding the site with their preferred language version, the root URL will usually serve as a landing page where users can select a language with the use of visual aids and text so that they can tell the difference between various language options. Links should also be provided to the other translations of your website in the navigation bar.

Keep in mind that when translating text, you must consider the fact that text in some languages will take up more space than text in other languages. Russian and German text will often require more space than English would. By comparison, text in Korean and Chinese require less space. You must also consider page layout. Some languages, such as Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic are written from right to left. When translating text for such languages, the page layout would need to be flipped so that it reflects a mirror image of pages that read from left to right. Along those same lines, you need to think about the potential for language variants. You must also ensure that you have links to the various other languages on your website.

Making the Process Easy

One way to make the process of offering your website in multiple languages much easier is to use a website builder that handles the process for you. One such website builder is Weebly. With Weebly, you can easily copy your first site, give the copy a new name, and edit the copied site so that you can then translate the content into the relevant language. An address can then be assigned to the new site by simply changing the site address. The sites can then be easily linked to one another to allow for easy navigation.

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2014