Is it difficult to design a multilingual website? Nowadays, translating your website into different languages is easier than ever after all. What was once a complicated process of many steps can now be all done with a few clicks.
Translating the content of a website is just one part of the whole localization process, however. Only when you make an effort to truly design a multilingual website for your audience, this process can be completed and you can start building your global brand.
Does this mean the task is back to being complicated? Not if you plan and take into account the following pointers when designing your multilingual website with localization in mind.
#1. Watch out for LTR and RTL
Most of you know, but LTR (left to right) and RTL (right to left) are writing systems, meaning that a text can either start on the left and continue flowing to the right or start at the right and continue flowing left. While most languages are LTR, there are some very important languages which are RTL, such as Arabic and Hebrew.
If you plan to translate into one of these languages, you also need to plan the layout of the localized versions. For example, if you have images on the left of your LTR website, you need to plan moving then to the right on the RTL counterpart. If you don’t do this, your multilingual website in Arabic will look strange, to say the least.
#2. Remember about the text expansion
When a text is translated from English to Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, or Italian, you can expect it to expand quite a lot. For individual words, this can be even 2,5 to 3 times the length of the original.
This means that if you have a long paragraph, chances are that you can reword the translation so that it can fit into a certain place on the website itself. You can also shorten or omit certain phrases to make it look better visually on the website.
At the same time, links or UI elements containing just one word are much more difficult to localize, as the space you have for adjustments is usually much smaller than with larger chunks of text. In these cases, the words itself will probably have to be abbreviated to fit.
#3. Pay attention to colors
Nowadays, people are often aware that colors are not universal and that things aren’t always as black and white as they thought they were (pun intended). Taking an extreme example, black can symbolize death in Western countries, while in China white is associated with death.
It would take pages upon pages to describe all the differences in detail on a global scale, but what you need to remember is not to neglect the imagery and its cultural importance.
The best thing to do is to simply keep in mind for which target country you design your multilingual website and then, have a look at the color palette.
#4. Think about imagery
Apart from the written content, the images are the most powerful elements on your multilingual website that influence how visitors will perceive your brand. That’s why they say that a picture is worth a thousand words!
Let’s say that you have a cow or a pig on your logo. You localize your website and you move into the Middle East or India. What implications would the logo with the pig have in Qatar? How far would the cow logo make in India? You can imagine that neither of the two would be the best idea. Not even big brands are immune to this.
The best advice would be to keep it cool, but neutral! You don’t have to play it too safe, but always play it with respect to your global audiences.
#5. Amplify and customize your language selector
This is a no-brainer – make the language selector easy to find on your multilingual website, so people can find it easy to switch between languages. Once you place the language selector, we would suggest using the names of the languages in the selector, not flags, to represent the languages.
Flags are fun, and they look good, but they will cause you huge problems down the road. Spanish, for example, is spoken in many countries as the native language. To avoid that, just place the name of the language, in its localized form, into the language selector.
Create your multilingual website with ease!
All the above can be a hurdle if you don’t take a second to think about the potential implications. If you want to talk about the localization of your website, and what you should be focusing on, reach out to us. We like to talk, we will give you advice, and, as always, there are no strings attached!