Accessibility & Inclusion

4 Ways to Optimize Your Multi-Language Website

June 15, 2022 7 minute read
Unlock the full potential of your international audience by learning how to optimize your multi-language website for unparallelled user experience.

If your business or organization operates in several countries, it's likely that your website is available in a few different languages. Along with this comes the difficult tasks of managing website copy translations and handling website updates in a variety of languages — perhaps even across several different domains. 

When talking with our customers, we often find challenges with multi-language content that has not been properly reviewed before publishing. A number of ad hoc translators or sometimes even local in-house team members may be used to create new language versions of websites. As review and remediation resources are often limited, this may result in incomplete translation, a lack of consistency across website copy translations, and ultimately negatively impact the overall website experience.

Let’s take an example that is not uncommon to encounter on a website with multiple languages. You visit a website which has English as its default setting. However, you are excited to see that they also offer a version in your native language and quickly switch into that setting. After making this change though, you discover that half of the content has suddenly vanished. Frustrating, isn’t it? 

At the end of the day, there could be a number of reasons why an organization may struggle to assure the same experience for all visitors in different languages. Dealing with quality assurance, for instance, and fixing errors that exist on the main website may be prioritized over issues related to other language versions. 

Now, let’s take a look at some of the ways that the Monsido by Acquia's platform can be used to manage multi-language websites more effectively in order to maintain a high-quality experience for all visitors.

Four tips for optimizing multi-language web content

1. Scan all your domains to get a full overview of your website

Scanning all of your domains allows you to receive a complete overview of your website(s) as a whole. With this kind of visibility on the dashboard, you can then easily assign specific domain reports to be sent out to content contributors of your choice. For example, if you wish to alert only those responsible for Spanish speaking content, you can assign the reports for the Spanish language domain directly to your designated Spanish content contributors only. 

This helps ensure accountability, and provides a straightforward procedure for content contributors to take ownership of the flaws in their content, as well as flag the most critical errors in their work. 

If you want to achieve alignment when working with multiple stakeholders on multi-language websites, it is vital to properly assign responsibilities. This will not only enhance the speed and quality of implementing new content in several languages, but also make it easier to make on-going updates. 

2. Create separate dictionaries for different languages

The easiest way to ensure high content quality across all languages is to create a dedicated dictionary for each language in the Monsido platform. When doing so, remember to add all brand vocabulary and make sure there are no misspelled words which will usually be flagged by autocorrect or the like. 

Our customers commonly use dictionaries in different languages to ensure they are meeting the standards for all of the territories they operate within. A typical example of a challenge for multilingual websites is assuring that a brand name is spelled correctly across all domains. This can often become an issue when adding a new customer to a portfolio, especially if their name is language-specific. For example: Maersk or Mærsk, Côté or Cote. 

Another way to assure quality content across all languages is to create a policy to flag similar spellings of words, such as organisation — which is the British English spelling, but for the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand it's spelled organization.

Lastly, our quality assurance feature can flag all capitalized words, making it easier for your team to work across languages by putting a spotlight on the current campaign or word you are focusing on. 

3. Establish policies for ongoing quality assurance

Website optimization is an ongoing journey, with new rules and standards constantly being introduced along the way. This is exactly why we created our policy feature. The feature essentially allows you to implement customized search parameters so that you are alerted if and when a new rule or regulation is not being met. 

We often see examples of policies that are related to English words, such as software, database, or even computer, which have been adopted by non-English speakers. In our experience, people use these words all the time when speaking in non-English languages, even though they do, of course, have native translations. As an example, the word software is in Icelandic called hugbúnaður and in Norwegian it’s programvare.

Creating policies that scan for these often overlooked mistakes can be a huge time-saver and help to ensure consistency in using the correct terminology for webmasters who are not native speakers.

Another popular policy among our customers scans for language-specific terms that should be avoided when writing about disabilities. This is an area that has a number of associated standards regulated by law. It is a good general rule to first check what the specifics are for each county that you operate in. Here are some inspirational examples to help you create policies: NHS digital style guide and the Disability Language style guide.

Our policies are frequently used by our customers to identify very specific terms and phrases particular to the industries and languages that they are operating in. As these will often change over time, it is a good idea to continually create new language-based rules in order to stay on top of any new standards and remain alert to any mistakes that may arise. 

Consent manager in different languages

An aspect which in many ways seems to be neglected when it comes to multi-language websites is your cookie consent manager. You can’t provide an English language cookie banner on, let’s say, your French website. In addition to this, every country you operate in has its own specific rules in terms of privacy and cookie policy, data storage, etc. For these reasons, our consent manager allows you to easily categorize all your cookies and scripts based on local compliance and accessibility standards. 

In the world of today and especially in the European Union (EU), where the use of cookies requires individual consent, having an efficient way to manage cookie settings is an absolute necessity. As many of your potential visitors may not understand English, it is highly advisable to have a consent manager that communicates with them in a way they can comprehend.

Final thoughts

Having good quality multi-language website content allows you to connect to a wider audience and expand the reach of your digital presence by literally speaking to people in their own language. 

Continuing advancements in digital technology mean that translation and localization management is more affordable than ever before. Yet managing a multi-language website does not come without its own challenges. 

However, with clear-cut translation processes and ongoing updates, you can ensure that all of your content is available in multiple languages and gain a powerful advantage over your competitors. And, if you’ve already got a multi-language website, you can always look at refining those processes and improving your overall consistency.

Ready to get an overview of how your multi-language website is performing? Get a free Monsido by Acquia website scan to learn more about the current performance and health of your website.

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