When deciding to set up a website, there are always a number of challenges to be faced. But the earlier on in the process you think about multilingualism, the better prepared you will be. Multilingualism can affect the structure, performance and choice of system. With good planning and well informed choices, the actual translation process can be much quicker and easier.
Some of the very first – and most important – points to consider are the following:
- What is the purpose of the website? What type of information and functionality, if any, do you want to reach out with?
- What is your target group? Who do you want to reach, and where are they? What wishes and expectations do they have for your website? What will make them feel at home in terms of appearance, colours and structure? How do they look for information?
- What are the requirements in terms of navigation and clarity?
- How do you plan to deal with search engine optimisation in each individual language? For example, Google has different requirements for different languages and different countries.
- Who in your organisation will produce the materials? Who will ensure linguistic and factual accuracy and that the site gives the impression you want to give?
- How will you manage the finished website in the long term? Have you decided on responsibilities and procedures for site maintenance, updates, brand new information, new languages, etc.? Having a plan for removing old and out-of-date material is just as important.
- Do you want interactivity, the option for visitors to give their opinions, a mobile version, contact forms, order pages, logging of how visitors come/leave/click around, etc.?
- Do you want to adapt the site for accessibility in accordance with one of the various standards, such as WAI-WCAG from W3C or the Swedish eGovernment Delegation’s own standards?
There are also other points, and you will no doubt come up with more as you start to think about the eight points listed above. However, it is clear that whether you want a website where everything is included from the outset or you choose to start with a limited site and expand it as you go along, you will benefit from having thought through the process carefully and drawn up a plan before starting work.
It can be worth thinking right from the start about how you want to deal with multiple language versions. Not necessarily because you want to take the step straight away, but because there is so much to be gained by being prepared and avoiding painting yourself into a corner in terms of design, appearance or technology.
When thinking about multilingualism, it may be useful to contact any local distributors, sales organisations or business contacts you might have in the intended countries. Consulting a translation agency or a language services company early on is also a good idea, since you can thereby avoid many pitfalls and get help with what you should be thinking about. Within the industry, we have a wealth of experience and expertise about the best way to plan such a project in order to ensure an effective process for all involved.
What could be more important than creating a good digital shop window to showcase your business to the rest of the world? This could be your first and only opportunity to make a good impression.