80% of Internet users opens in a new window in 1996 were native English speakers. By 2010, only 27.3% spoke English as a first language.
With this rapid rise in multilingual internet use, it’s now more important than ever to offer your website materials in a range of different languages. Not only will this help you to expand your business internationally, but it will also help to build customer loyalty.
When you’re presenting content in someone’s native language, they’re much more likely to engage with your site.
Perhaps you’re eager to begin with your business’s global expansion but just aren’t sure where to begin.
The first step to achieving this aim is settling on a multilingual content management system that fits your goals. Then you need to ensure that you accurately translated all information on your multilingual sites and made it locally appropriate.
Does this still seem overwhelming? Never fear. We’ve put together a guide of the most important considerations in selecting your multilingual content management system.
Read on for the details.
What is a Multilingual Content Management System?
A “content management system” (CMS) refers broadly to the software used for creating and maintaining websites. Some common CMSs opens in a new window include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
A multilingual content management system gives you the option of producing web content in multiple languages. Before the development of this multilingual capability, webmasters had to manually manage independently each language website. This would create inconsistencies in content across different language versions of the website.
Fortunately, multilingual CMSs eliminate that issue. There are many CMSs out there, but some were developed only to manage a single website, in a single language.
If you want to run a multilingual website, be sure that your CMS has multilingual capabilities.
The main benefit of using a multilingual content management system is the ability to easily maintain a single branded message across all of your content, regardless of language differences.
Creating Locally Relevant Content
When you’re choosing a multilingual CMS, you’ll hear a lot about the term “localization.” But what does it really mean? Simply put, localization refers to the process of modifying content to make it relevant to a new location.
Localization takes the geographical, language and cultural expectations of the target region into account and then tailors content to reflect regional variations.
Some cultures, for example, may see certain images as inappropriate. Certain icons may not have clear cross-cultural meanings. Localization helps to eliminate the danger of cross-cultural miscommunication.
Sometimes, localization can also be as simple as allowing for flexibility in formatting. By choosing the proper local formats for dates, times and currencies, you can make sure that your international customers get the most out of their visit to your website.
After all, you wouldn’t want a UK-based customer to visit your website to find that all of the prices are in dollars, not pounds! Again, it is all about the best customer experience you can offer.
Assessing Multilingual Capabilities
Now that you’ve got an understanding of localized, multilingual content management, it’s time to think about choosing the best CMS to meet your needs.
When choosing a multilingual CMS, it’s important to make sure that it has the capability to support all the languages that the website will be published in.
You might also want to consider different variants of the same language. French, for example, will be different depending on whether it’s spoken in France or Canada. An effective multilingual CMS will account for locale variations within a single language.
Furthermore, a multilingual CMS can automatically redirect visitors to the version of your site in their preferred language. This enhances website accessibility and user experience.
It’s important that each language site have its own workflow so that all new content can be managed independently. There may also be times when you want to post updates targeted only at specific customer language groups, making separate workflows even more essential.
Using Multiple Character Sets
In addition to putting your content through a process of localization, you’ll also want to make sure that the text displays correctly for each language you’re using.
Multilingual content needs to be presented in the correct characters for each language you are using. To reach the 800 million opens in a new window Chinese internet users, for example, it’s important to consider that the Chinese language has multiple character sets. It also requires double-byte support.
You’ll also want to consider languages that are read right to left instead of left to right, such as Arabic. To manage content in these languages, ensure that your CMS allows for bi-directional text. This requires format vertical mirroring.
One of the easiest ways to ensure the maximum multilingual capability is to use the Unicode standard, which stands for Universal Coded Character Set. This allows you to present text in most of the writing systems of the world.
Saving Time and Money
Getting your multilingual content online can be a time sensitive process.
To save on both translation time and costs, it can be vital to choose a multilingual CMS that permits translation reuse. This means that translators will only receive the content that needs translation.
It’s also important for a multilingual CMS to interface with localization tools to streamline content production. Instead of beginning localization from scratch with each new website, use of previously localized content – from the website or elsewhere – can simplify the process.
Additionally, any plugins or apps used within your content should have multilingual abilities. You should not limit youself to using plugins that do not permit the translation of their content to other languages. So your forms, your online chat, your social media interfaces, your schema text, your images alt text and titles, your title and description meta tag content… all have to be exportable and translatable.
This will ensure proper user experience and SEO.
Choosing the Right Multilingual Content Management System
With so many factors to consider in choosing a multilingual CMS, it might seem overwhelming to choose the right one. We hence put together a few suggestions as a start.
Joomla opens in a new window is widely regarded as a good option for streamlining your multilingual content. It includes translation packs with over 60 languages and dialects.
Drupal opens in a new window is also an open source CMS and very widely used by larger corporations. Drupal supports about 100 languages in its language packs.
WordPress opens in a new window is the most commonly used CMS in the world. Around 33% of websites use it. With WordPress, you do not heed to install separate sites for different languages. All you need is to install one of the free or paid plugins that enable multilingual support.
When choosing your multilingual CMS, you’ll want to keep your language, formatting, and localization requirements in mind. You’ll also want to pay attention to the capacity to easily interface with translation tools.
Optimize Your Great Content with Localization and Translation
You’ve put a lot of time and effort into growing your business, and you want to make sure that your expansion into global markets goes as smoothly as possible.
Now that you’ve got a good working knowledge of multilingual content management systems, you’re ready to take the next step towards reaching international clients.
There’s a whole world of potential connections out there, and our team of professional, native speaker translators can make sure you’re communicating your message as effectively as possible.
Not only that, we can streamline your translation process to ensure a good match with the local culture of your new target markets.
For more information about our professional translation services, get in touch.
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