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.
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.
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.
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.
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