What is the best way to create a multi-language site?

What is the best way to create a multi-language site?
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A client wants to update their simple website (6 pages in total). They currently handle 3 languages (English, Spanish, and Italian) with each language using its own directory structure, for example:

www.company.com/es/
www.company.com/en/
etc.

From a design standpoint, is that the “in” thing to do these days? I was thinking it would be interesting to consolidate those 18 pages into 6 by having all of the languages on a single page. The languages would be in columnar format, so Spanish text would always in the first column, English the second, and so on. From a UI perspective, this would be identical on all of the pages for consistency.

There’s not a lot of text on any of the pages, but I am concerned how the column thing would work on mobile devices.

Am I way off on my idea, or should I just keep the existing page structure?

Many thanks in advance!

But from a UX perspective it would be awful. Unless it’s a language learning site, you shouldn’t mix different languages.

Also imagine that later you’ll decide to add a language with a different script, say Russian, Chinese or Hindi.

What you can do is to make a JSON file for each language and then according to page settings load the relevant file.

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Many thanks for the info. I see your point, I was just trying to make things easier (on me). I’m not sure how to implement your JSON suggestion, but I’ll read up and figure out how that’s done.

Thanks again!

Hi,

The best way to create a multi-language website is to translate the pages and serve those pages depending on the origin of the user coming to your website.
So the structure you have adopted: one folder per language is good. Don’t change it.

For more information about multi-language websites take a look here:
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/how-to-start-multilingual-site.html
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/working-with-multi-regional-websites.html

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That is very cool @jenovs! Thanks for the jump start on this. That looks like a very clean way of doing things.

Thanks again!

@awagoner One more thing I forgot to mention above :
You may want to look deeper into what type of UX/UI people are looking for in different markets.
A small example:
Chinese love to have loads of information on the front page and do not like to dig too deep into the website.
They also like to have quick access to the product owner/support service for instance.

While on the other hand, in the US, and France I think, people are more inclined to leaner, simpler designes.

So at least for your key landing pages I would recommend creating different designs
Examples:
This is "western style, simple website"

China:
http://www.yhachina.com/index.php?hostID=2
http://www.yhachina.com/index.php?hostID=1

(They translated their website from Chinese to English, this is the best way for you to see the difference)

I’m not a profi but from all info that I’ve read the best solution is to use different domains for different countries. That way your using that country’s top domain and can easily work with language-specific SEO. That solution is the hardest to maintain. Second, best could be using subdomains like en.website.com, also hard to maintain though. Depending on the site and if you use Webflow you could use folders, also a little hard to maintain if you have to make design changes but you have easy access to every page and work with language-specific SEO. Easiest to maintain is to use something like Bablic or Localize. I can find a bit more info
here. It’s article with tips and tricks about how to make a multilingual website

Hey guys,

I’m Eugene from Weglot (a multilingual solution to translate any website).

We recently launched a new way to quickly make any website multilingual. It’s simple to install, SEO compliant and easy to manage.

To go more into details a little bit, here is the way Weglot works: Weglot scans your website content, send it to our translation API and the API sends back the translations. This makes it very light and fast. You have 2 ways of implementing it:

  • JavaScript integration: Quick and easy integration. Simply copy paste a short JavaScript code in your website <head> section. It takes 5 minutes to install and doesn’t require any coding knowledge.
  • Subdomain integration: More in-depth and better for SEO. Connect Weglot via your DNS (fr.mydomain. com -> French version handled via Weglot). A little longer to implement as you need to setup subdomains but SEO friendly. All your pages will be automatically indexed on Google!

Key benefits of Weglot:

  • Simple 5-minute set-up. No coding required.
  • Automatic & human translations with access to professional translators
  • Optimized for multilingual SEO

You can try Weglot for free and we also have a free plan for small websites translated in 1 language.

We’d be happy to have your feedback!

Cheers,
Eugene