Learn everything you need to know about website localization in this comprehensive article. While reading, we will walk you through the process, show you some tools to help you and point you in the right direction to successfully launching and maintaining a multilingual website.
The internet has turned the world into an interconnected large city where borders, as we know, do not exist, but language barriers surely still do. Even if global borders truly vanish, languages and cultures are here to stay, and if you don’t deliver your message clearly, it gets lost. 😓
Remember that "Everyone speaks English" is a myth that will cost you money in the long run. Global expansion is the goal of every digital business, and you should be prepared for localization, even if it's not a priority right now.
Whether your audience speaks Swedish, English, Japanese, or another language, each requires content customized to their traditions, symbols, and formats. An app, software, or website which holds your business values should be optimized for the different audiences you are trying to win as customers. There are various ways of preparing a separate version for these web pages.
✔️ Expanding your reach to broader markets is challenging as much as it is worth it. Since you already have such a global vision, the tools and the process is all you need.
So, let's get this show on the road, shall we?! 😉
👁️🗨️ Translating your vision
Moving your content into another language means adapting your product or service for a wider clientele. So, before starting, you want to ensure that you have a meaningful and clear ‘why’ in order to stay focused.
- What’s the goal you are trying to reach with localized content?
- To whom are you trying to speak? 🗣️
Clarifying your needs and goals is important because the entire process costs money, and if you don’t have clear targets that you want to achieve, you’re at risk of burning money without any effect. The creation of a multilingual website involves various additional costs and requires investing in resources that might otherwise go to waste if not built with a purpose.
📍 Are you able to answer these questions?
- What’s the main driving factor for adding more languages to your content?
- What language deserves more attention to start with?
- What would be your ideal cost/value ratio?
- Are you capable of providing for the increased international demand?
After answering these questions, get to know what are the major processes your content has to go through to be streamlined in multiple languages. Don’t forget to pay attention to multilingual SEO if you want your website to rank higher. 🤓
🎓 Internationalization - localization - translation
Translation, localization, and internationalization often get confused, but they’re all different processes that aim to make your website multilingual. One doesn’t replace the other, but they work in unison to accomplish this goal.
They’re not to be separated from each other but rather seen independently as complementary parts of the whole product adaption process.
Translation is known as the process of adapting content from one language to another. For businesses or individuals who serve multilingual markets, translation is crucial to reach more people. Different media can be translated: from papers, books, and even street signs. However, the digital landscape and its immense need for content have increased the need for digital translations. This is the type of content we are focused on. 🧑💻
Internationalization (i18n) stands for the process of preparing a website, application, or software with the capabilities of adding localized content. The process is usually performed by the client himself instead of the translation provider. It’s a practice that’s kept in mind during the building process and serves the localization or translation teams. The process is focused on adapting the design, code, interfaces, and content for additional languages without having to re-create the product. 🎨
Localization (l10n) is concerned with what happens after the product’s functionality is finalized. It corrects words, phrases, or other interface elements that require adaptation in other languages. These elements are made localizable during the internationalization process. Then, localization is concerned with the actual translation/transcreation and adaptation of the content according to the culture, language, and market jargon used in a certain locale. 📍
🌍 Choose a CMS with proper i18n support
Numerous content management systems exist to assist with the organization of your web content. Each comes with its functionalities and capabilities. Someone interested in building a multilingual website should analyze and pick the one which offers more features that assist the internalization process. 🧑💻
These features must match your business needs and not only the translation process. Finding the best CMS depends on the features required for users to navigate your website or perform different actions, such as purchases or information submissions.
When you consider different CMS, keep in mind these questions:
- ✅ How safe is translated content stored on servers?
- ✅ Does the CMS assist in the internationalization process?
- ✅ How upgradeable and scalable is it?
- ✅ Does it provide forms adaptable for different regions with time zone-aware scheduling?
Remember that our goal is always to find an optimal affordable solution that gets the job done without having annoying bugs pop up every click. The translation is just the tip of the iceberg, while most of the hard work goes into preparing the structure and systems behind it.
So, where do you get started if you want to check the compatibility of your existing CMS? Simple. Search for "i18n plugin for [Name of your CMS]" or "[Name of your CMS] localization plugin," and you’ll see the available plugins to assist in making your website multilingual.
🚩 What CMS can be used to build a multilingual website?
Selecting the right CMS doesn’t have to take hours and hours of searching. We have brought you a list of some of the best content management systems that are popular in the industry. We can categorize them into three types of systems: open-source, headless, and customizable. 🧑💻
🕹️ Open-Source CMS
Many businesses prefer to get their hands on the source code to modify it and make changes to their site. Open-source CMS allows anyone to modify, share and optimize the original source code. Here’s a short list of the five best open source platforms.
The majority of websites you see online are built on WordPress. WordPress is the powerhouse of content management for 32% of the websites on the internet. Simply by using plugins like WPML, your admins can translate pages, categories, posts, and themes.
Learn more about Localazy integration with WordPress
Assistance in content creation, security, and performance rank Drupal among the ideal solutions for large-scale sites. To enable content translation in Drupal, enable the core "Content Translation" module. By using its translation management tool, you can streamline the process of translation and build a dynamic interface with its flexible features.
Craft users can set up multiple localized sites for Craft to manage their translated content without having to use complicated software. Craft makes translating content with Localazy simple by allowing users to take advantage of the translation API to send the files for translation into Localazy and get the translated versions back.
As the CMS expanded its user base, the interface was enriched with complex tools. Ideal for large-scale projects but not worth considering for small projects like simple blogs for which WordPress fits well. After installing it, it’s ready to adapt the content in multiple languages.
TYPO3 is a popular open-source CMS that has been around since 1999. It’s one of the most full-featured CMS solutions available, with an enormous code base that allows it to support any type of website—including multilingual ones—and any level of customization.
🔌 Headless CMS
The way how CMS serve content to users has gone through changes and adaptations. Headless CMS stands as one variation of these changes. A headless CMS has no front-end for displaying content. It functions as a back-end to store and manage content and then presents it using an API. These CMS support specific plugins for multilingual content or can be translated by using the Localazy Translation API.
Let’s explore a few.
Based on Node.js, Strapi is a headless CMS that was initially founded as a school project in France. It turned out to be successful and received over a million downloads and 25,000 stars on GitHub. The platform is open-source, giving full freedom to developers to integrate their favorite tools and seamlessly customize their projects.
Strapi also supports multilingual content thanks to its Internationalization plugin that comes pre-installed in Strapi v4. And with the Localazy plugin for Strapi, you can enjoy the seamless translation of your content with unprecedented comfort.
Used by over 63,000+ professionals, Storyblok offers a seamless preview that facilitates the work of developers and content editors while creating different platforms, from Corporate sites to mobile applications. It manages multilingual content through a single content tree.
Using Storyblok for your content? No problem. Localazy integrates with Storyblok for a smooth translation process. Learn more.
Contentful comes with multiple functionalities, including open-source elements such as field editor libraries and integrations with third-party apps. As a headless CMS, Contentful offers tools for using content from its back-end in several channels and languages with ease.
After selecting our content management systems and starting to fill our website with content, we should start localizing it. Translating a website into multiple languages accurately is no small task, but neither does it have to be a daunting process. We’ve actually broken it down into three easy steps. 😁
👉 The Three-Steps to Translate Your Website
Each CMS has its distinctions when it comes to managing translated content. Users expect readable content that speaks to their needs. The lack of localized content might be the cause of an increase in the bounce rate. Here is our three-step process toward simple localization.
1. Strategize your localization process 🔍
Starting to translate website content immediately without a proper localization strategy in place leads to blind paths.
Localization is concerned with much more than the word-by-word translation of texts into another language. As said earlier, it is the adaptation of the messaging and offerings into the culture of that market. When building a localization strategy, all the distinct features of a culture are taken into consideration: social norms, language nuances, and symbols. 🔣
For your content to reach a maximum number of readers, viewers, or watchers, you should prepare a localization strategy, ideally based on actual data you already have at hand or additional market research.
Layouts can also be an important factor that can change drastically from one culture to another. We are taking 🥤 Coca-Cola as an international brand selling in 200 countries, with localized websites in dozens of them.
Let’s see how the US and Japanese website versions change in layout. 🎨
Elements that you should include in a localization strategy always depend on the behavioral data you’ll collect. Never ignore this data and tune them constantly until you hit that sweet spot of maximal user experience.
2. Choose a translation management system 🗃️
Using automation combined with advanced technologies, a translation management system gives a helping hand to both translators and developers in the translation process. Such a system is integral to assist you to accomplish a project by minimizing the translator’s manual work, organizing tasks, and monitoring the project’s progress. 📊
The main objective is an increase in productivity and efficiency while cutting off the time spent shifting between programs, organizing people, and transferring data.
All Translation Management System tools, such as Localazy, should share three common features:
- CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) capabilities to help you translate your content 💻
- CMS integrations and workflow automation to minimize manual file exchange 🔁
- Central project administration and management (all translation needs in one place) 🗃️
These systems are utilized for large projects. A few might offer minimal features, but most of them consist of a list of powerful features that can help both individuals and large teams facilitate the localization process effectively.
3. Translate, localize, repeat 🔁
After choosing a TMS, start preparing content for the respective markets and languages selected. We have two ways in which the process is ought to be organized by the majority of the teams:
- The translated content is put into the website after the webpage is published. This process is named waterfall localization.
- The translated content is added to the website alongside the development process. We’ll call this agile localization.
Agile localization is considered more appropriate and efficient for implementing updates and assisting in the localization workflow. However, the process is walking on thin ice because small mistakes will affect the site almost immediately (but once spotted, it is really quick to fix them!).
The traditional procedures are similar for all projects:
🌐 Prepare the integration: After pondering what TMS suits you best, prepare your project files for translation and upload them or connect your website using an API, CLI, or a localization plugin if there is one.
At Localazy, each one of our tools is built with developers in mind. And the Localazy CLI is the developers' playground where they can upload and download the localizable content fast and reliably and access all features with ease. When you need assistance from other tools, you can easily add other integrations.
🤼♂️ Invite your team: Invite reviewers and translators into the project workspace so that you can discuss and work on the project. It’s time to bring everyone together: translators, proofreaders, editors, and developers. Localazy saves the hassle of hiring and managing an external team of language specialists by yourself.
You can outsource this process with Continuous Localization Team services. Localazy offers various localization services, including a human-assisted machine translation, professional translation of your software or app from scratch, or simply a review of crowd-sourced translations.
With Localazy, you can focus on what can’t be automated. 💪
🆙 Localize and update: Update your website with the new translations as soon as you finish. Ensure files are properly updated with the translated content and ideally fit into the interface.
☑️ Completing your localization kit
Choosing a translation management service is important, and it requires a bit of research. We’ve saved hours of searching and listed here five of the most used translation and localization tools to complete your localization kit.
Well-known brands like Daimler, TESCO, and Headspace have worked with Lokalise to translate and localize their content. The company keeps a stellar spot on the market after all five years of experience and numerous practical features added. Real-time translation, project chats, and inline translation suggestions are three core features worth mentioning.
Phrase has all the essential tools needed for website or software localization and multilingual content management. The platform aims to simplify the collaboration process between team members and content management. The free plan allows only one project and includes up to three users. For more, you have to select from their paid plans starting from 23 dollars per month.
Founded by the creators of i18next, Locize offers multiple features as a translation management tool. Ideal not only for large teams, managers, and translators but also for single developers. Locize supports machine translations together with professional translations, and by using the InContext Editing tool you’re able to translate software from your browser.
Reputable companies such as Trello and Atlassian have trusted Transifex to handle their translation and localization processes. The platform is quite diverse and it offers several tools for support platforms and designers, alongside tools and integrations for developers. Users claim that the platform wonderfully does the job, but it gets expensive fast.
Localazy is a highly automated localization platform with a powerful Translation API, CLI tool and a comprehensive list of integrations and localization plugins for various third-party services. Anyone can localize their website conveniently with Localazy.
Even though website developers might be fairly used to encountering obscure tools and outdated interfaces, we strive to make all of our users feel at home and pay great attention to UX and design our interfaces thoughtfully, so you can invite your content manager as well, and be sure they won't get lost.
To start, you are given free 200 source keys that you can use to translate content for your website. All users have access to all the basic integrations, file formats, and essential translation features, including unlimited machine translation suggestions.
Our pricing policy is transparent, and all the features are laid out for you to see.
I hope you are now ready to start with the localization of your website. And if you decide to go with Localazy, I am sure the process that might have seemed nearly impossible will get easy and seamless for you and your team.
Do you need help with the localization of your website? We are here to help!
💙 Contact us at email@example.com to discuss your needs.
We are ready to help you translate your website and deal with multilingual SEO.