Many businesses are redesigning their websites to adapt to the global nature of today’s commerce.
To do this effectively, some companies are localizing their websites and omnichannel content simultaneously. Combining the two projects often drives new, meaningful business in global markets.
Here are a few key considerations that can help make your multilingual website redesign project efficient and successful, and prime your company for future success.
1. Plan ahead for word growth When you translate text from English into other languages, many words and phrases will end up longer. This phenomenon is known as word growth, and it can account for content taking up 20% to 45% more space on the screen than the original text.
On a website, these text-based changes can cause big design headaches and a clunky user experience. Design elements such as menus, image captions, and buttons can become “broken,” since translated text can flow over the area allotted for English text. Meanwhile, elements like headlines often look unbalanced or inconsistent with the rest of the onscreen content.
To plan ahead, ensure that your page layouts and templates are built for fully dynamic content, and be sure to activate word wrap for elements like text boxes. If you overlay text on images, be sure to leave enough space – known as padding – around the text in your templates to accommodate for any differences in copy length.
2. Keep text separate from images Visually rich sites are powerful for attracting retail audiences, but it’s important to use good design principles to make translating their text easy and seamless.
Always keep text separate from images rather than embedded in the flattened graphic. Isolating this text using an overlay means that translation technology can more easily detect, translate and replace the copy. Text embedded in flattened image files is often missed in translation, and as a result, visitors end up with an awkward, mixed-language experience that can feel sloppy and unprofessional.
Separate text is also a good practice if you want to be able to easily swap out images later. It means your designers can easily change graphics without disrupting translated text or requiring duplicate translation efforts. As an added bonus, this text is indexable by search engines, boosting your SEO power and helping global customers find your site.
3. Think local Your global audiences want an online shopping experience that feels as though it was designed with them in mind.
By making it easy for your online customers to visit your site and select the language they use most — and offering content that’s also customized for their region or location — you can help your brand stand out and deliver a unique and personalized experience for visitors. You should structure your site to automatically detect what language your visitors are likely to prefer, as well as display offers, promotions or product selections that are unique to the area.
And while it’s easy to overlook, don’t forget to translate the transactional content that customers will see throughout their journey on your site. The little things like error or confirmation messages, currencies, units of measurement and payment information — even when they’re populated from third-party applications — should be available to your customers in the language they use most.
Your databases should be able to capture and store information in multiple languages, too, so your sales, marketing and customer service teams can use it for future projects.
4. Work with the right translation partner Different businesses have different translation needs, and it can be helpful to have a partner to help guide you through the complex world of localization.
The right partner can also help you consider and navigate the key aspects of your redesign project so that your multilingual site is set up for performance from the first click. Whether it’s helping navigate technical considerations, the distinctions of the markets you’re hoping to serve, and the huge undertaking of translating, storing and redeploying all of your content for international visitors when your redesigned site launches.
This will help your translation project be more seamless the first time, and current and future redesigns won’t disrupt the content and user experience on your site.
Craig Witt is chief revenue officer of MotionPoint.