How to Build a Multilingual Website to Expand Your Web Audience

You’re no longer the only one who can show off your impressive multilingual skills at parties. Now, your website can join in on the fun, too! There are many reasons why you might find yourself wanting your online presence to be multilingual. Your business might be located in a popular tourist destination, or - considering how much the Internet has opened up our world - could attract an audience that spans far beyond your neighborhood, state, or even country.


As a result, making the content of your website accessible in the most common languages you serve is an important step for converting web visitors into customers. After all, people aren’t very likely to move ahead with buying a product or booking a service that they can’t fully understand. Read on to learn how to master multilingual website design to expand your client audience.


Translate your website


The most essential component in creating a multilingual site, of course, is the translation. If you yourself don’t speak the additional language you’re adding to your site, it’s worth investing in the translation services of someone who does. There are just too many grammatical or cultural nuances that can get lost in translation (literally). Or, at the very least, find someone who’s a native speaker of that language and either is a very good friend or owes you a favor.


So, what exactly needs to be translated?


Text: Really, most of your site’s copy, from text boxes on your homepage to the buttons on your menu, and all of your online retailing details if you’re using an eCommerce platform like Wix Stores. In addition to the literal switch over from your primary language to your secondary one(s), pay attention to cultural references. Have you jazzed up your call-to-action button text with puns particular to one language, or cultural references? First of all, you deserve a round of applause for a job well done acing your engaging CTAs. Second, make sure to remember to find equivalent phrases, or to take a similar tone, when switching over to your secondary language(s).


Images: Text is not the only element on your page that you can “translate.” The same principle goes for images, too. If you offer a localized service, for example, and want to display photos of your programs from sites across the world, you can select the requisite images to match the regional language of the text. One final detail to note in your translations is the date. To all those out there who have missed a deadline or meeting because the format of the month and date was different from their personal custom (Is 12/04 April 12th or December 4th??), you know exactly how confusing this can be. Either do some research into the conventional date and time format for your secondary language(s), or play it safe by simply writing out the full month.


SEO settings: Once you have completed the translation stage and are sufficiently feeling that nostalgia for high school language class and verb conjugations, it’s time to make sure your impressive work can be found in all of its linguistic glory across the Internet. That entails optimizing each of your new pages for search engines. Start by going through the process of finding the perfect keywords - just in your new language - and update your site's SEO settings accordingly. That way, curious potential customers searching the web for a business or solution like yours in their native language will have a higher chance of stumbling across your site.


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Feature your website’s multilingual capability by adding a language menu


Once you have all of your content translated - literally and culturally - and ready to go, it’s time to let your web visitors of all your different languages know that they can access your website. Instantly show off your linguistic talent with an easy-to-spot language menu. You can customize it to your liking, representing each language with mini flag icons or written abbreviations (or a combination), to signal to your browsers the options that are available for their choosing.


We suggest placing this language toggle right smack along your primary header navigation. You can even use subtle animation features, a popular web design trend, to really make sure visitors aren’t left rooting around for the translation option. The longer they have to search, the higher the chance they might leave in favor of a page they can actually understand.


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A word for the wise: if you offer two or three languages, flag or word icons that appear right in the header menu will be perfect. If you offer more, though, consider a drop down menu of lettered abbreviations to avoid clutter.


The process of translating your whole site into a new language can feel daunting. Yet, believe it or not, once you’ve already built your site in your primary language, you’ve already taken a major step towards simplifying this process. What you have in front of you - your site structure - is essentially a roadmap to guide you through the conversion process to a second, or even third and fourth, language. This outline will let you take it step by step (or page by page, if you will), helping you get your multilingual website up and open for use in no time at all.


The best part? Using a feature like Wix Multilingual means there’s absolutely no need to recreate a new site for each language. Every time you add in a new language, a parallel copy is created for you. And if you change an element in one of your languages, the alignment of your video strip, let’s say, is immediately reflected across these multiple versions.


How to use Wix Multilingual to create a multilingual site:


Go to Wix.com and sign up - it only takes a few clicks.

Create your website in your primary language of choice.

After it’s live, enter into the Wix Editor, and select ‘Settings’ from the top menu bar.

Click ‘Multilingual’ and then ‘Get Started.’

Choose your main language and the flag you want to display with the main language.

Select ‘Next.’

Set your secondary language (note: you can add additional languages later) and the flag you want to display with this secondary language.

Click ‘Next’ and then ‘Start Now.’

Your site is now ready to say ‘Hello!’ and ‘Bonjour!’ Ooh-la-la.



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