11 Essential Dos and Don’ts of Multilingual Web Development
Many websites that cater to a global audience would benefit significantly from accommodating more languages. However, this can be challenging to develop, so this article gives tips on the best practices and common mistakes to note when creating a multilingual website.
Why is a multilingual website important?
Before we cover the different dos and don’ts of web development for a multilingual website, let’s first discuss why it’s worth doing in the first place.
If you’re catering to a multi-global audience, then investing in making your website more multilingual will be a good investment. At the heart of it all, a multilingual website will have more reach and can connect with a broader audience, regardless of their geographical location or language preferences.
It’s a simple but powerful way of improving customer or user experience when they’re on your website.
According to Sytian Productions web designer Philippines, by offering content in multiple languages, businesses can cater to their international customers more effectively. International customers will find navigating the site easier and understand the information provided.
It’s a chance to tap into untapped markets and target specific demographics that may have been previously inaccessible due to language barriers. This expansion can increase sales, brand recognition, and overall growth.
Dos of Multilingual Web Development
Now that you know the importance of making your site multilingual, let’s cover the different dos of multilingual web development.
Research and understand your audience
Research your audience before you can start overhauling your site to accommodate multiple languages. Think of the fact that there are more than 7,000 languages worldwide, so you want to narrow down the languages you wish to accommodate. That’s why you should research your audience first.
By conducting thorough audience research, you gain valuable insights into your target audience’s preferences, needs, and expectations across different languages.
It enables you to identify the regions or countries where particular languages are predominantly spoken or preferred. Once you know where your target audience comes from, most of the time, you can then understand the best languages to add to your multilingual options.
It would be best if you also researched to ensure that you are using the local language as authentically as possible. Different cultures have distinct communication styles, values, and sensitivities. The last thing you want is a translation error that someone of that culture could misconstrue incorrectly.
Use a website translation tool
Retranslating your website for other languages might be too costly or taxing. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money, nor do you have to do a lot of work to translate your website into other languages, and one such way would be through a website translation tool.
Instead of manually translating each page and content element, this tool automates the task so you don’t have to crawl and inspect your website content elements yourself.
As mentioned earlier, another significant benefit is cost-effectiveness. Hiring professional translators for each language can be costly, especially if you have an extensive website with numerous pages. Website translation tools offer cost-efficient solutions by providing automated translations at a fraction of the cost.
Just ensure that the plugin for website translation you add to your website is compatible with your content management system.
Add a language switcher in a prominent location
If you can change the language of your website, then you want to make sure that the people who would like to use it find it intuitive to find your language switcher.
Placing the language switcher in a prominent location ensures that users can easily find and access the feature without having to search extensively. By putting it prominently, you demonstrate your commitment to providing a multilingual experience and catering to the diverse needs of your audience.
The top right or left of a website or digital product is always a great place to put your language switcher. Since many other multilingual websites already do this, doing the same for yours makes sense.
Let users choose their preferred language
First, prompting users to choose their preferred language on your website is not just a courtesy but a necessity. By encouraging your web users and visitors to select their preferred language from the start, you already create a more comfortable website user experience before anything else.
You understand that you’ll feel much more comfortable browsing and interacting with a website if it’s in your native language, so the same applies to your web users and visitors. Therefore, letting them choose their preferred language before interacting with any website element can help you start things off on the right foot with your web visitors.
Modify your SEO for all languages
Another benefit of having a multilingual website that is worth noting is that it improves your local SEO for particular areas with particular languages that you have. However, that might mean the content will need a modified SEO approach, especially in keyword research.
Each language has unique keywords, search terms, and user behavior patterns. By adapting your SEO strategy to each language, you can increase the chances of ranking higher and attracting organic traffic from various regions.
Remember to optimize images for SEO when you modify your SEO efforts based on the languages you have available on your website.
Maintain consistent user experience
Just because your website is changing languages, that doesn’t mean your website’s overall user experience should change.
A consistent user experience ensures that visitors, regardless of their language preference, don’t encounter any issues with your site just because of that change.
That’s why it’s a good idea that you track and change any potential web design changes that are affected after you change language options on your site.
Don’ts of Multilingual Web Development
After knowing what you should do, it’s now time to cover the don’ts of your multilingual web development.
Not using localization techniques
Since language is very much tied to geographical locality, it doesn’t make sense to ignore localization techniques when incorporating multiple languages.
If you have a solid and active audience in a particular locality, then it’s best to use localization techniques, such as using the appropriate slang, acronyms, etc.
If your website has a lot of blog content, then your idea for your multilingual website would probably be to translate the existing content. However, that would be a mistake, as search engines can penalize websites for that as they see it as a form of duplicate content.
Instead of doing that, you can simply use the hreflang tag attributes to help search engines discern which language is most appropriate based on the potential geographic location of the user.
Neglecting RTL (right-to-left) languages
There are many ways that languages change, one of which is how people read. Make sure you also find ways to accommodate right-to-left or RTL languages if you know that one of the main languages you are adjusting reads that way.
When you work on web design for RTL languages, you don’t just treat it like a minor project. After all, you want to ensure that your website wholly and thoroughly accommodates the user interface required for RTL languages.
Don’t forget about date, time, and number formats
Another simple change worth noting would be the dating formats. You have to consider their preferred dating format, specifically whether the month is first or the day or year. It would help to view time formats, as some prefer the 24-hour or 12-hour format.
Don’t use flags as toggle icons
One thing you might have yet to consider regarding your language switcher is the format. For many websites, the language switcher would prompt people to choose their language based on the flags. However, that could be problematic and confusing since some countries have multiple languages.
The better way to prompt someone to choose the language is by having a list of the languages’ names instead.
By knowing these do’s and don’ts, you can start creating your multilingual website in an accommodating and accurate way. Therefore, if you are serving users from all over the globe, keep track of these do’s and don’ts for your website so you can get a multilingual website as soon as possible.