Building a Truly Great Multilingual Website

Multilingual Website

The International Data Corporation found that web users are incredibly four times more likely to purchase from a site that is available in their own language. This provides quite the impetus to any business to offer a multilingual site. However, offering content in several different languages obviously also adds a significant layer of complexity. This blog looks at how to ensure you get it right.

Get Translated. Properly.

Your website is your first interaction with your future customer; it is your shop-front. You need to be sure that the quality of the translations conveys not just the literal qualities of your products, but what your brand stands for, your values etc. The simple fact is that the accuracy of machine translated text varies. Use an experienced Language Services Provider as they bring valuable experience in accurately and fluently translating your website.

Select Your Market

This is not necessarily as simple or straightforward as it initially sounds. You need to consider not just where you are trying to market and sell products now, but where you may wish to in the future. This can be particularly important when it comes to elements like purchasing domain names. Even if you haven’t fully committed to a market yet, providing an online presence there can be a good way of testing out appetite for your product in that place. However, each language you commit to is obviously going to carry a cost not just for initial website build and translation, but for maintenance, so this needs bearing in mind.

Be Aware of Color Symbolism

When you first designed your product and logo, it was most likely with a local market in mind. Color is an important facet of any website and we tend to automatically link colors with things. For example, in the west, companies having a lot to do with the environment and are likely to use lots of green. Watch out though – a green hat signifies that a man’s wife is cheating on him in China. Purple that is usually linked with royalty in the West is the color of mourning in Thailand.

Watch out for Dialects

It is not quite as simple as what language people speak. Some words can have entirely different meanings for example lunch is “déjeuner” in France, but “diner” in Switzerland and Belgium. These differences can seem innocuous, but can actually lead to serious misunderstandings. For example, in US English, “pants” is a piece of clothing for the lower part of the body, but in British English, it only refers to underwear. Some markets will be more sensitive to how vocabulary is used, which is again where Language Service Professionals can be invaluable in understanding the mindset of your target market.

Consider the Best Way to Present Your Product Range

This may well be one of the most challenging elements, as it will need to be supported by your company’s logistics and operations. Do you want to make promises in one market that you can’t make in another e.g., delivery within 48 hours? How are you going to manage any differences? How sophisticated can your infrastructure be? The most important thing to bear in mind is that as it is so often the case any failures are likely to be judged harshly, so consider carefully how you pitch your products in each marketplace.

Ensuring that your website is welcoming and straightforward to navigate for customers and readers of any of the cultures and language backgrounds that you may wish to target is a great way to allow your website and indeed business to grow. However, remember that website must always be kept up-to-date and engaging or they quickly lose visitors’ interest so be sure to keep reviewing and refreshing content regularly.

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