If you want to reach a global audience with your website, you need to make sure it can be accessed and understood by people from different countries and languages. One of the best ways to do that is to create a multilingual website, which allows users to switch between different languages according to their preferences and needs.
But how do you create a multilingual website in 2013 What are the best practices and tools to use In this article, we will answer these questions and provide you with some tips and tricks to make your website more user-friendly and SEO-friendly for multiple languages.
Choose the Right Platform
The first step to create a multilingual website is to choose the right platform for your project. There are many options available, but some of the most popular and reliable ones are:
WordPress: WordPress is the most widely used content management system (CMS) in the world, powering more than 40% of all websites. It has a huge community of developers and users, and offers thousands of plugins and themes to customize your website. One of the best plugins for creating a multilingual website with WordPress is WPML, which allows you to translate your content, menus, widgets, and more into over 100 languages.
Joomla: Joomla is another popular CMS that has a strong focus on multilingual features. It supports over 70 languages out of the box, and allows you to create language-specific content and menus with ease. You can also use extensions like Falang or JoomFish to enhance your multilingual capabilities.
Drupal: Drupal is a powerful and flexible CMS that can handle complex and large-scale websites. It has built-in support for multilingual functionality, and lets you create content in different languages with different URL structures. You can also use modules like Internationalization or Entity Translation to manage your translations and localization.
Choose the Right Language Switcher
The next step to create a multilingual website is to choose the right language switcher for your website. A language switcher is a widget or a menu that allows users to change the language of your website. It should be easy to find, use, and understand by your visitors.
There are different types of language switchers, such as:
Flags: Flags are icons that represent the countries or regions of each language. They are visually appealing and recognizable, but they can also be misleading or confusing. For example, some languages are spoken in more than one country (e.g., Spanish), while some countries have more than one official language (e.g., Canada).
Language codes: Language codes are abbreviations that indicate the language and sometimes the region of each language. For example, en-US for English (United States), fr-CA for French (Canada), or zh-CN for Chinese (China). They are precise and consistent, but they can also be unfamiliar or unclear to some users.
Language names: Language names are words that spell out the name of each language in its own language. For example, English, FranÃais, EspaÃol, or äæ. They are easy to understand and respect the identity of each language, but they can also take up more space and require more fonts.
The best practice is to use a combination of these types of language switchers, depending on your website design and audience. For example, you can use flags with language codes or names as tooltips, or language names with flags as icons.
Choose the Right URL Structure
The final step to create a multilingual website is to choose the right URL structure for your website. A URL structure is the way your website addresses are organized and formatted for each language. It affects both the user experience and the SEO performance of your website.
There are different types of URL structures for multilingual websites, such as: aa16f39245