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Is Your Website Multilingual? Should It Be?

Determining if your website should be multilingual is often a decision that is overlooked during the website creation process.  It is important to know the demographics of your potential customers.  Is your product or service popular in areas of the US that are non-native English speaking?  Is your product available for international sales?  If so, you might want to consider several areas in website development.

In search engine optimization, phrases that are searched in English might not be the same phrases that are searched in other languages.  You have to take the time to do proper language dependent keyword analysis to make sure your target phrases are correct.

Knowing if you are going to support multiple languages is important in the flash design and website design process.  You won’t want to include text in graphical buttons or menus unless you plan on developing multiple sets of graphical elements in various languages.

While automated tools like Babel Fish (best regards to Douglas Adams), can be useful in translating websites, the most effective method is to have the content written and translated by humans and delivered via a content management system that can distribute different versions of copy depending on the language selected.  Automated tools don’t prepare the same quality of translation that a professional “human” translator would produce.

If you have hundreds of pages of content and aren’t ready to translate your entire site, consider a few pages of targeted information in a specific language.  Those pages would get picked up by search engines and you could still draw in that audience, even if the rest of your site is English only.

Take some time to determine who your audience is.  Perhaps you are missing out on a large potential customer base.

- Dave Gruen
Senior Vice-President, Consulting Division

Tags: web design 

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