Joanna Tarasiewicz
January 05, 2023

Master Your Multilingual Website in 8 Simple Steps

Master your multilingual websiteAre you looking for guidance for your website localization?


Or maybe you already have a plan and want to double-check if you are not missing any important steps on your to-do list?

I am sure you already know that a multilingual website enables you to better communicate your brand's voice to international users. A properly localized website will increase your traffic and ROI. It will enhance your global expansion regardless if you want to sell in Europe, Asia, Africa, or in the South America.






Related content: A Guide to Measuring Website Localization ROI





Whether your local audience understands English or not, it is good for your business to provide new language version to new buyers. They claim that one out of 10 customers doesn’t buy a product if it is not localized.


ATL is highly experienced in assisting clients with website localization, from the early stage to the multilingual version launch. For the last 15 years, we've been busy localizing different elements of websites on a daily basis.

We know that understanding the step-by-step process of website localization can bring you closer to efficient and cost-effective project execution. This article provides exactly that: Simple steps to take when creating a multilingual website.

Go through it and make sure that your website is ready to become a multilingual center of your brand's communication with your global audience.


1. Choose a CMS for Your Content Management



CMS choice (1)



A Content Management System (CMS) enables you to publish and manage content on your website. The CMS should not be confused with a web builder. A web builder is a tool focusing on website creation. For example, it provides you with access to a drag-and-drop editor. This helps if you want to create a website without having any previous experience in coding.

The CMS, on the other hand, focuses on the content. It helps with content indexing, making changes, formatting, and more. Thanks to various plug-ins, it can be a powerful tool that will also provide support while building multilingual versions of your website.






Related content: 50+ Translation Integration With Your CMS to Speed Up Your Localization Process





It doesn't matter if you choose WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, TYP03, or any other, it needs to be user friendly and allow for collaboration with your whole team.

Make sure it has intuitive interface and gives you the ability to easily grant permissions and customize rights, alerts etc.


Your CMS should also allow you to add as many languages and locales to your website as you want. By locale, we mean that the French language is not the only version of the language available on your multilingual website. Your audience should be able to easily choose between French (Canada) and French (France).

It really makes the difference for your clients!


2. Choose Languages (or Language Version) for Translation



choose language for website translation


Decide how your local viewers will get to the localized version of your website. Are you going to ask them what language they want the website to be displayed in?


Will you go for a language version based on the language version of their browser or operation system?

If you decide to allow users to choose and save the language version they prefer, make sure their choice will be saved. It can be annoying to save the choice of the language version each and every time your client enters the website.






Related content: 15 Languages for Translation That You Should Know About





You can also include a drop-down menu with the language versions so that the users can choose every time they visit.


3. Choose Which Content to Translate First



choose content for translation


A multilingual website will give you better visibility online. The translated and carefully reviewed keywords in the local languages will not only give better results in all these languages but they will also generate traffic for the main page.






Related content: A Quick Introduction to SEO Localization





It’s good to start with home page translation. Your website is your e-business card, make sure it can be understood by your international clients in their native language. This increases traffic to your website as well as giving you more visibility on local markets.

It’s also good to translate product descriptions and the "About" page. It’s OK to skip your Blog for now.

Choose proven markets where your competitors are already successful, or define new potential markets and get there first. The latter may require more time to see the return on investment. The more local markets you select, the more likely you are to profit.

Include Video in the Scope of the Localization Project



video content for translation



If your website contains videos, consider including them in your localization project. It may seem impossible or difficult to localize videos, but it is actually as easy as content localization.


There are tools that help transform speech into writing and turn a recording into a document in just a few minutes. From this point, there is no big difference in assigning the document for translation.


It may seem like the cost of video localization may be much higher than the translation of your landing page. Don't worry, there are many ways to stay within your localization budget. The cost of video localization depends on several factors. The cheapest option is subtitling, the most expensive is voice-over.






Related content: How Much Does It Cost to Translate Video? [Rates, Factors & Savings]





If you are not a movie or cartoon producer, then a simple subtitling should be perfect. You can also go for dubbing, if you wish. This option is also good, and is not as expensive as voice over.

Localize Graphics



localize graphics on your website


Graphics used on your website provide context as well as supporting your message to the reader. Make sure that the message is appropriate and understood by readers living in different countries.

Graphics can use symbols that are familiar to people living in one culture but they may not be understood by people living in other cultures.

Graphics can use symbols that are familiar to people living in one culture but that may not be understood by people from other cultures.






Related content: 15 Simple Ways to Kill Your Multilingual Website






It can get serious if there are religious symbols used in your website and you neglect to make them appropriate for other cultures.

There are numerous differences among various cultures and it is very important to remember that not only the words need localization, but visuals also.

Localize Payments

This part is relevant mainly to e-commerce businesses. First of all, localize the currency. Showing prices in your buyers’ currency is an important aspect. Another important factor is payment method.

There are places in the world where a credit card is OK, but there are places where buyers prefer PayPal, for example. Other buyers are accustomed to paying in installments.


4. Review Your Website for Localization Obstacles



businessman fighting obstacles like internationalization fights localization obstacles


The process of removing all localization obstacles from your website is called internationalization. It means that the more you prepare the original content for translation, the more quickly good quality translations will be published on your website.

Mind the Cultural Context in the Translated Content

This is important for graphics, symbols, and for the overall message you communicate to your buyers. Whatever you sell or whatever service you provide, make sure that how you communicate is culturally appropriate when it comes to the countries your clients live in.

Refrain from using proverbs or references to fairy tales, as these may not be understood by your audience.






Related content: 10 Best Practices in Website Localization





It would be good to know what colors are traditionally associated with positive feelings. It's good to know lucky numbers as well as numbers that do not resonate well in particular cultures.


Make sure to be aware how your clients from various countries should be addressed. An informal tone is OK for English, but German, French and Japanese are quite the opposite. An informal tone might come off as rude with those audiences. 

Fonts and Encoding

This is more of a technical aspect, but forgetting about it can successfully distract potential buyers from your website.

Missing the right encoding on your website can lead to incorrect display of local special characters. Instead of the correct special character, the program displays a string of random characters that are completely illegible.






Related content: 6 Tips on Preparing Your Content for Translation





With regard to fonts, special characters are most often missing their diacritical mark, which looks really unprofessional.


Design for Left-to-right and Other Readers



_left or right text direction on multilingual website


Most people read in an F-shaped pattern. This means that the most important information should be placed on the left side as people from the West read from left to right.

When providing the Arabic version of your website, bear in mind that the most important information should be placed on the right.

Allow for Text Expansion and Contraction

There are languages that are much longer than English, like German or Finnish, but there are also languages that use fewer characters for the same information, like for example Japanese.

To avoid shrinking the font size to an illegible size, remember to keep in mind the available space on the page when translating.






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After publishing the translated version, verify that it looks good and that there are no unnaturally empty spaces or fragments with compressed text. Perhaps in some situations, it will suffice to slightly reduce the amount of information or to formulate it differently.

5. Select a Translation Company



select a translation company best for your needs


You can cooperate with one or multiple freelancers and establish a localization team. But a localization team consisting of freelance translators needs vendor and project management.






Related content: Freelance Translators vs. A Translation Agency: An Honest Comparison





If you want dedicated project management to be assigned along with the translation tasks, go for a localization company. There are many talents working in localization companies: localization project managers, engineers, vendor managers, terminologists, CAT tools specialists, linguists, and transcribers.

They cooperate with carefully selected experts in marketing or technical translations, subject-matter experts in various fields like engineering, life science, gaming, pro-audio, IT technology, agriculture, lifestyle, and other.

Such companies have extensive technological background and are equipped with professional CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools. They can assist you with integrating your CMS directly with their translation tools (CAT) and optimize your localization process or build a new one.

6. Translate Faster and Cheaper: Remember CATs and Integrations



connect system with translation software



A good solution which will help you update content into multiple languages at once with minimal effort is integrating your CMS directly with your localization provider's translation software.


Translation software, often referred to as CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools, is not a program that translates by itself, but is a set of tools and modules that allow faster translation with better quality, compared to translating in a simple text editor like MS Word.






Related content: Top 10 Translation Tools That You Should Know About: A Complete Review





The most important feature of CAT tools is that they divide the original content into smaller pieces called segments and store these pieces together with their translations in a language pair-based database called the Translation Memory (TM).

The segments stored in the TM can be reused. It also allows parts of these segments to be reused. Thanks to reusing the translations, you can be sure that the same piece of information is translated the same way on the product description page as well as on the main page.






Related content: How to Really Save on Translation and Localization





You may need a new product to be launched and its description is similar to a previously translated product description. The translation team will translate only the new words and reuse the already-translated phrase. When this is done, they will simply check if the combined text is correct. It makes the translation update faster.





Integrations allow you to control the cost of updates. You establish a connection between your website back-end and the Translation Memory, which enables you to see what percentage of the content will be reused.





Related content: How Much Does Website Localization Cost?






In turn, it generates savings as the reused content is not charged at the full translation rate, but qualifies for a discount.

Last but not least, thanks to integrations, the process of content distribution and management is really fast and clean.

Let's take WordPress as an example.


  • You select the pieces of text to be updated and assign it for translation into as many languages as you wish.

  • Then you just assign it for translation and your translation services provider takes over from there.

  • You don't have to export any files or copy pieces of the website into an email or MS Word document.

  • You get the translations back and they can go live without importing, uploading, or pasting.

Nice and easy.


7. Show Your Multilingual Website's Progress



progress concept to show a progress of a multilingual website


What do you do when the content is not 100% ready? Is it a good idea to leave the users with just a part of your offer available in their native language? Maybe it's better to provide the translated part together with the remaining content in the original language?

That depends. If you are running an e-commerce business it’s better to display all the available products and services. You may choose to add some free MT plugin while waiting for the properly localized version, but add the disclaimer.






Related content: What Happens When You Experiment With Machine Translation






Informing your buyers about the level of communication that they can count on in their native language is a good solution. Let your clients know the percentage of the content being translated and let them know that the remaining parts are translated automatically and may not be perfect. Then lead them to the original English version.

8. Update the Changes on Your Website

This is very similar to a website that is not fully localized. Leaving your local buyers with an outdated offer or information is a bad idea. They may feel like they are less important to you.

Whenever you update your website content, make sure that the localized versions are also updated.

This may sound like a lot of file management and back and forth with various translation providers, but it's not. If you work with a reliable localization service provider, all language versions can be assigned for translation with just a few clicks through integrations.

Get Moving



start creating multilingual website


Now you know exactly how and where to start.

Do you want to know more about what you need to successfully increase the traffic and reach more international buyers?


Set up a meeting to discuss your challenges and your particular case. Let's start working on your global expansion success through an excellent multilingual website.


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