4 Keys Considerations for Multilingual Web Design and Development
Although English is the international language of the world, it would be favourable for your business if you create a website in the native language of your targeted market as a sense of belonging is instantly forged. Remember, there are many who can understand English, but there are more who don’t!
So does that mean that if your targeted audience is likely to understand English, you can do away with the native language support? Not necessarily. Depending on your industry, there might be a lot of jargon involved when you are introducing your product or penning your sales page. The readers might have a better understanding of these terms if a copy in their mother tongue is available. It is not exactly a wise business decision to forgo possible opportunities of garnering more clients due to language barriers!
Multilingual web design and development is not just a simple matter of getting a translator to rewrite the web content. You have to make some adjustments in terms of:
Navigation and Design
Online shopping sites often present the option of browsing the webpage in a variety of languages. Visitors would select their preferred language before being brought to the respective pages. You might want to keep this in mind if you are developing a multilingual site. Some businesses choose to have a language as the default entrance page and require the visitors to search for the language options and switch manually. It is up to your preference at the end of the day, but if you are going for the latter approach, place the language option at a visible part of the site. It is annoying for a visitor to search high and low for one.
Most western languages with Latin roots are read from the right to left but languages that incorporate the Hebrew or Arabic alphabet would usually be read the other way round. In this case, it would be advisable to accommodate the website to the nature of the language such as shifting the navigation bar accordingly.
In short, computers deal with numbers and Unicode gives a special number for the characters in different languages and platform. Unicode is adopted by the leading IT companies and supported by the majority of operating systems. For this reason alone, you would likely to be best off using Unicode.
The industry of your business and products are likely to set the tone for the colour scheme but you should consider the cultural and religious connotations your audience might associate with the colours adopted on your site. For example, Asian countries view white as a colour for mourning and black as an inauspicious colour for festivals.
Confusion can arise if you use a single solid domain name for your multilingual site. It is ideal to have a top level domain that corresponds accordingly to each country that your website is focusing on. For example, your domain for a German site would be www.yourbusiness.de This way, the visitor would be able to identify at first glance what language the site is displayed in.