While English remains the top language used on the internet, with more than 565,000 users, Chinese is not far behind. Spanish and Portuguese are third and fourth, respectively. If your business model is such that it requires reaching out to diverse audiences, especially those who do not speak English, it is a sensible decision to develop a multilingual website.
There is no shortage of websites selling products and services, though. What steps do you need to take to be successful? How can you compete with countless rivals? Check out the 5 steps below that you need to take to that end. Keep them as your checklist to ensure you don’t miss any of the critical actions.
First things first. You need to have original content to lay a strong foundation for success. Don’t count on a lot of traffic in the beginning, but if you offer quality content, you will see the number of visitors and customers spike before you know it. Don’t hesitate to invest in content creation because the return on investment will be huge.
You must ensure that the quality of your content passes muster in all languages used. You need to have reliable and trustworthy translators to ensure the highest content quality in all languages. Make sure you go through the reviews offered by the Translation Report to identify them. You also need to use plagiarism checkers to safeguard against compromising your credibility. Native speakers will detect plagiarism quickly, so this is an important point to bear in mind.
Place a language switcher prominently on your homepage so that visitors do not have to spend time looking for it. It is good practice to place it in the header. It should be hard to miss. Depending on the number of languages you have, you can use either a drop-down menu or icons. In the first case, you have many languages, and in the other–only a few. Switching options must be easy and intuitive. If you get this feature wrong, it may become a major turnoff for many visitors.
It is not enough to just translate your content into different languages. Word-by-word translations do not always and necessarily hit the mark. Sometimes, you must prioritize making your content relevant to your target audience. What appeals to customers in North America may not go down well in South Asia. Localize your content, brand, and calls to action to make them attractive to local customers.
Localization is a critical step in developing a modern multilingual website. Use your SEO experts to suggest the keywords you should use in different countries. They can also research the most searched topics, products, ideas, and services. Findings will give you critical clues about ways in which you can structure your content.
Take your analysis one step further. Under certain circumstances, it is not enough to just localize your content. You must be aware of all the cultural nuances and undertones that some of your content has. Use the knowledge and experience of local experts. At worst, you might be promoting ideas, products, or services that are insulting.
Identify those no-go zones and themes and bear them in mind when designing your website. These may include icons, emojis, images, or slogans. Make every effort to avoid the risk of embarrassment at all costs. It will take you months, if not years, to reinstate your tarnished reputation.
Time to review all the details, which might easily fall through the cracks. These include dates, currencies, time zones, and other relevant information. For instance, one of the most common mistakes we developers make when targeting the US and European markets is about formatting the date. In the US, the month precedes the date, whereas it is the other way round in Great Britain and the rest of Europe.
Measurements are another thing to watch. In the US and UK, miles and pounds are used while they must be converted to kilometers and kilograms. Don’t irk your customers by having them go through the trouble of doing conversions. If you are running an online store, this can become a real nightmare.
Creating a successful multilingual website is a challenging task. It takes a lot of preparation and planning to make a good start. Make sure to follow the recommended steps to create a website that offers original content, engages with local audiences, and caters to the needs and interests of all customers, irrespective of their location and language.
Joanne Elliot is an experienced linguist, blogger, and researcher. She has also studied coding and programming as part of her graduate studies. Joanne has lots of followers among students who love her blogs and updates on the current trends in software development and related tips and observations.