Multilingual website design

Tips on multilingual web design


The virtual world has successfully cut across borders, paving a convenient route to reach global. Are you too aspiring to get in touch with your target audience beyond your national frontier? That’s brilliant…but while the internet has extended us a conducive environment to get global yet you would need a multilingual website too to materialize that aspiration for yourself. A website focused on just a single language won’t be sufficient to cater to the international audience not comfortable in your language.

If you think a multilingual website is a tough nut to crack- well, yes, it’s tad hardy but then the post below lays down the needed strategies to follow here to make the task easier for you.

Know the multilingual basics

Websites sporting multiple languages generally follows a typical content portfolio or architecture. It can reside on some distinct sub-domain, directory/page or could be controlled by a cookie. However, mostly, the site’s code would be the same running on UTF-8. This particular character coding is compatible with several languages, especially Italian, German, French and English. It would be easier to get the translation done dynamically as manual translation is too tedious.

The translation procedure not only involves translation of letters but also of individual words & sentences to ensure a proper meaning of the site content in the translated language. Be careful with minor details such as numeric formatting & currency symbols.

Localization and internationalization

In this context, let’s have a clear discussion on differences between localization & internationalization. Internationalization (I18N) upgrades the website with technical specifics meant to support different languages. The localization (L10N) process is the next step which helps you to follow the process mentioned above for any chosen language.

Preparing your website the I18N way

Well, a lot of websites incline to a sub-domain for every language they want to incorporate in their portfolios. For example, the sub-domain for French audience would be different from that of the one meant for Italian niche.

However, you can even take to customized query parameters such as “”. The technical structure that you would follow here would be decided by the website’s size and number of languages you are planning to include.

But then, how you are setting the localization URL structure would greatly influence the SEO of your site. According to the pundits, it’s best to follow the sub-domain method. If you are okay with code, you can also choose the URL parameter with a session or cookie.

Most of the back-end languages such as Ruby, Python and PHP carry their own set of internationalization libraries. One can use simple threads for text such as nav menu links which will run through the back-end libraries & convert fast into your desired language.

Multilingual web-page design

You have to be careful about the placement and visibility of alternate languages on your web page and how the users would be able to change the given language- and also how to spot the needed language to deliver. For example, it’s common to deliver language on the basis of IP address. Now, it will work for a mono-language country such as Nippon but might not fit for multilingual countries such as Switzerland.

The idea here is to set one particular language as default and then extend other language alternatives on the web page. You can place the alternate language links on either header or footer so that your visitors can easily change the page language as they want to while browsing your site.

A brilliant example here would be the footer. Amazon caters to a huge international audience and has done a smart job by placing language links at same spots in all sites so that it’ simpler for the users to find them.

On the other hand, a drop-down menu carrying the available languages would also be a great idea. And not only it’s space-saving but it’s easier for the visitors to identify the facility.

Then again, how you will place the alternate language links on your web pages would be largely influenced by your goals and audience. If it’s no more than 2-3 languages, flags on upper right-edge of the web-page would be cool enough. But if there are more languages, the drop-down menu is what you would want.

Know about popular Translation tools

Below is a brief on two popular translation tools that will help you with the internationalization process.


The popular translation tool is bustling with a grand internationalization library powered by JavaScript and comes with options for the other JS engines such as Node.js. i18next would be simply grand for the JS-powered translations.

Visit website


The experts highly recommend the Localize.js library as it’s a handy help for the pros looking to offload the tedious translation task. You also have a free trial facility here before you invest your hard earned money in the higher tiers.

Visit Localize.js website

So, when are you going global with your website?

Hexadesigns is a web design company located in Kolkata, India. We design, redesign and develop websites. Build custom software, ecommerce, mobile apps and do digital marketing. This is our blog where we publish information for the general people and web developers for their knowledge enhancement.

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