Multilingual Website Development
If you are living in a country that its native language is something rather than English language, then you may like to develop your website to offer content in the language of your own country.
There are millions of websites on the Internet that are all in the English language. Still, there are billions of people on the earth that speak a different language and are not familiar with the English language.
However, most Internet users are familiar with the English language. They could use the Internet, but many subjects are hard to understand for those people whom their language is not English.
So, having a website that provides the content in a language rather than the English language is necessary for you. Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Dutch, France, and many other languages are general samples of most used languages on the Internet.
Some tips before starting to design and develop your websites:
1.The Code Page
The best code page that you should choose for your web pages is Unicode. Unicode is a kind of numeric presentation of characters that is two bytes and so can contain up to 65535 characters to show.
Until now, there have been no human being languages in the universe that have had more than these many characters. So, by using Unicode, you can show all the characters of your language.
To represent your web page as a Unicode page, add below line of code in the head part of your page:
2.Tools For Development
For creating web pages in Unicode format, you should have a tool to be able to type in your language. One of the tools that are widely used by web developers is Microsoft FrontPage.
If this tool is installed on Windows XP, then you have the most powerful set of software to create Unicode documents. FrontPage is a WYSIWYG tool for creating web pages, and you can easily choose the language of your web page in options of the page. Appropriate HTML tags would be automatically inserted in the code.
3.Nature of the Language
If your language is Right-To-Left like many Asian and the Middle East languages, for example, Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew, you should tune your operating system to be able to switch from Left-To-Right to Right-To-Left typing method to be able to type from Right and Left.
If you are a Microsoft Windows user, you can configure your system for multiple languages and keyboards, each of them having different kinds of input methods.
For example, you can add Farsi as the second language of your Windows and then switch from English to Farsi by pressing a combination of keys and start typing in Farsi. Also, switching from RTL to LTR would be possible by another key combination.
4.Navigation and Design Considerations
Some languages force to apply some changes in the design and navigation of your website. For example, if you have a vertical menu bar, you may put it on the left of your pages for English pages and in the right for Arabic pages because Arabic is an RTL language, and people are used to starting reading pages from right to left. However, this is not a rule, but it is better to consider it in designing pages.
Another issue is the entrance page. If your website is in two languages, you may add an entrance page that makes the client choose the navigation language of your website. This page could be a very helpful graphical page with two options for selecting the desired language and then enters the website in that language.
5.Font Face Considerations
When you are creating your web pages in a language rather than English, you would be limited in using font faces. There are a few font faces in windows that are installed automatically and can show multilingual characters.
If you like your visitors view your pages correctly without any need to install fonts, you have to use those minor numbers of multilingual fonts. One of the best font faces is Tahoma that is somehow easy to read and contains all Unicode characters also is included in Windows.
6.Database Driven Web Sites
If your website is database driven and you have forms that clients may fill and be posted to the database, there would be lots of very technical issues that you should consider to be able to collect and retrieve data in different languages. This part is beyond the aims of this article.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a significant issue for multilingual websites, and you should be aware that not necessarily all major search engines and directories handle multilingual web pages correctly. Your website may not be listed in many of them.
Google is a search engine that indexes multilingual web pages too. However, there are some issues and difficulties, but it works well enough for your website to index in your language.
No matter in which language is your website, the domain name of your website should be in English because at this time, having a domain name in another language is not a very easy thing to have, and multilingual domain names are a new issue and are under development.
There are some solutions but are not yet set correctly. So, I suggest you forget those solutions and choose an English name for your website.
9.Web Server And Hosting
However, primary web servers, like Microsoft IIS and Apache, both support multilingual web pages. Still, I strongly recommend you to ask the hosting company for this issue and make sure that there won’t be problems for your web pages to be served by the hosting company.
Multilingual Web Development
Do you own a site with potential customers throughout the world?
Do you think you can attract more customers with multiple languages on your website?
Then you can create a multilingual website, which can offer the website in more than one language. It is a bit of a hard task to maintain the website with multiple languages. Start from the word go; the work will be heavy for the website designers and the SEO optimizer.
What is a multilingual website?
A multilingual website means the representation of content in more than one language for the convenience of the customers. The content displayed would be the same in different languages with some exceptions.
If you want your site to shine in multiple regions, then you can have a plan of going with multiple languages. The bright example is if you are looking to go with an eCommerce site in China and the USA. Here are some of the tips to build a functional multilingual website:
• Language code:
Make sure when you are building the multilingual website, the code should be there for every language on the page. So, the screen readers can access the code and interpret the correct language on display.
Do not forget to set the primary language. If you create your website with English as the default language, that won’t affect much. Then find the language code and insert it in the HTML.
Use the right language code. If you use a wrong code and it is an English site, then it finally ends up in displaying another language other than English throwing the site into a gutter.
• URL Structure:
There is no specific need for creating multiple URLs. But the language should be displayed in the URL for the convenience of the customer. Generally, the number of links would increase with several languages. Generally, a single page contains the content in one language. Usage of ‘hrefs’ helps the screen readers to recognize the languages.
• Google and Language Recognition:
Google won’t recognize languages like screen readers or assertive technologies. Google recommends one language per page for easy identification.
• Direction of Languages:
The languages of the US and ARAB will be in opposite directions. You have set the code correctly according to the regional language.
• Font sizes and length of the words:
When it comes to the font size, it is not universal; the size of the character will change for different languages. Likewise, when it comes to the length of the word, the length would vary for different languages. Be careful with the coding part of the size and length of the words.
Doing SEO for the multilingual site is also a difficult task. The URL structures will have slight changes for different languages, and content recognition will also be a problem for the crawlers. So, go ahead with a planned strategy for SEO.
Build a Multilingual website to expand your business to multiple countries in multiple languages.