6 Powerful Tips for Every Multilingual Website

Written by | 01 May 2012 | Published in 2012 May
For many extension developers and businesses the thought of a multilingual website never crosses our mind. However, supporting multiple languages can pay off with great dividends such as increased conversions rates, more traffic and a broader global reach. When creating a multilingual site there is much to consider and it’s really all about localization and knowing the culture. Below you will find 6 powerful tips to make your project a success.
6 Powerful Tips for Every Multilingual Website BazaarDesigns.com

1. Placement of Text and Images

Different cultures read in different ways. Therefore, placement of text and images can play a big part of the overall usability, acceptance and conversions of a site. Most Western cultures read left to right, while Middle Eastern cultures read right to left and Pacific cultures read top to bottom. So a navigation bar might work terribly on the right for one culture but may show an increased conversion for another.

Be careful though as even within the same reading patterns testing has shown culture plays the ultimate factor. In a test conducted with placement of the product image on the left rather than the right, conversion rates jumped by 16-percent in France, 9-percent in the U.K., and had no effect in the Spanish market.

2. Color

Color holds very different meanings in different cultures and it’s important to understand those meanings. In the U.S., for instance, red is the color of love while in South Africa it signifies the color of mourning. Again, color can have major implications on conversions and testing showed conversion rate increases in Russia when using a black and red combination for a Call to Action button and in Italy by changing from red to orange.

3. Translation

We all have received spam emails for business propositions from different countries. They are easy to spot because the translations are off and quickly into the trash folder they go. Languages don’t translate literally so find someone fluent in the language to translate it for you. Or else all of that hard work will be in the trash bin thanks to Google Translate.

4. Keywords

Just like translations, keywords don’t literally correlate either. For instance “Cheap Flights” in the US gets 6.12 Million searches per month and in Italy "voli economici" the literal translation gets 33,000 searches but month. If we tweak that for the culture "voli low cost" gets 246,000 searches per month. That’s a big difference.

5. Usability

Once you have implemented your languages it's time to make it easier for visitors to get to your translation. What’s that you say, a cool dropdown with languages and flags to choose from. No, let’s make it easier and auto detect the browser language and automatically serve that language. We can always give the user an option to change back.

6. Joomla! Tools

As of Joomla! 2.5 native language translations are now supported. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t make it even easier with third party extensions. Newcomer Josetta works with your default Joomla! language setup and allows translation teams to translate articles from the front end while FaLang will allow you to manage articles, modules and components from the backend. FaLang however doesn’t work with Joomla!’s native system.

Multilingual is not a good fit for everyone. For many though it is a great fit and I hope the intricacies above didn’t scare you off too much. However, let’s remember that we are implementing multilingual to increase reach, traffic and conversions that ultimately boosts revenues. Increased revenues mean you on yacht in the French Riviera…one day!

What are your best tips for multilingual websites?

Statistics and Test Data via Clickz.com

Tagged under Business Matters
Gabe Wahhab

Gabe Wahhab

Hi, I’m Gabe, an entrepreneur and owner of Savvy Panda a Joomla Web Design & Inbound Marketing firm in Milwaukee, WI. I also own jInbound and Master Inbound. I am the editor of the Business Matters section of the Joomla! Community Magazine and am a Co-Founder of Joomla! Day Midwest and the Milwaukee Joomla! Users Group.

Did you like this content? Please Follow @SavvyPanda and download the free ebook, "The Essential Guide to Inbound Marketing & SEO" for more great business tips!