If your manufacturing business caters to people from different corners of the globe, a multilingual website quickly becomes a must-have. However, it’s not always easy to create such a site. Some countries read from left to right and others from right to left. You may not be as familiar with the written language as the spoken language and worry that automated translation programs will lose meaning in the language change.
Emerging countries are growing at a rapid pace of about 3.27 percent, which means more and more companies should prepare for business with countries such as China, India, Brazil and Russia. Of course, which languages your users speak and read in may vary widely, depending upon what you make. Creating a multilingual website takes time and preparation. The last thing you want to do is offer a translation that isn’t correct and frustrates your international customers.
There are several steps to creating a multilingual website that works. Knowing how to proceed helps you avoid the pitfalls along the way. Here are some easy ways of getting your website up and running in more than one language.
Translating a website isn’t always inexpensive, and although widgets are a viable option (more on this below), they don’t always work perfectly. Your best bet is to offer your site in multiple languages and hire a professional translator. Because linguists don’t come cheap, it’s important to know who your target customer is and what country or countries order from you most frequently. You should first offer a translation in the language of the countries doing business with you often. You can always add additional languages or a widget for others as your budget allows.
LDR Medical recently had a name change, but are still controlled by LDR Holdings. The company’s website asks for you to “Choose Your Region” so they can get to know their site visitors better and deliver an experience in the person’s native language and related to their needs locally. As a seller of innovative medical equipment, products and needs may vary from continent to continent.
Languages with a lot of characters or longer words may take up more room than a website in another language. When you’re offering options, keep in mind that automated tools that translate the page may also create an unreadable mess. Since many users now access the Internet via their mobile devices, an extremely long headline might not translate well in another language and become unreadable on a smaller screen. Even if your budget only allows you to use a widget to automatically translate your pages, pull them up in each language and look the page over for visual aesthetics.
If someone from another country lands on your manufacturing page, they won’t be able to read the initial language if they don’t speak it. Make sure language options are easy to locate, so users don’t stumble around trying to figure out where to go. If the user gets too frustrated, they will likely leave your page and head to a competitor instead.
IDC Spring uses Google Translate to offer the site in both English and Spanish. The bar for choosing the language is located right at the top of the page. A user doesn’t have to look hard to find the the language option of their choice, but the page defaults if the person’s location aligns with that language.
If you’re offering a translation into a language that reads right to left from one that reads left to right, then it’s a good idea to mirror your entire layout. When you originally designed your website, you likely laid it out to draw the user’s eye in the reading pattern for that language. However, someone who reads in the opposite direction needs the mirrored layout if you still want the placement to be effective. Not flipping the elements on your page can result in reduced conversion rates and fewer clicks on your call to action (CTA) buttons.
Can’t afford a translator to revamp your entire site? There are some language translation options you can use which allow you to translate your site. You may want tohire a native speaker then to complete some light edits and ensure the words flow smoothly, but you’ll save money not paying them to translate from scratch. You could simply use Google Translate, but it is notoriously off much of the time, especially for large blocks of text. Instead, try a service such as Bablic and let a computer translate the text for you.
HMT Tank offers their site in both Spanish and English. A user chooses a language from the menu at the top and all the options on the page change to that language. Since both Spanish and English are left to right languages, the layout of the site remains the same, including the background images. The only change is in the text itself. Spanish words are sometimes longer than English words, so note how they keep headlines short enough to accommodate both languages easily.
You can add a widget, such as Google Translate or a plugin via WordPress to help translate your site into another language. This is a good option if you’re on a tight budget, but be aware that translations can be off and may confuse your users a bit. As soon as you can afford, you should invest in a translator to help you improve your translation and make your site a better experience for your global users.
The world is becoming more connected when it comes to business. As manufacturers gain customers from other countries and do business with suppliers all over the world, multilingual websites will become even more important. Gear up for the coming growth by getting your site ready now, and you can take advantage of your expanded customer base in the next five to 10 years.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.