If we are talking about internet users today, we are looking at around 445 million Chinese, 155 million Spanish, 100 million Japanese, 82 million Portuguese and 75 million Germans – moving multilingual website localization into the online arena as a hot topic for global professionals.
Behind any successful web presence is a content management system (CMS); a set of tools installed on a server to manage work flow in a controlled environment. Your website, essentially, lives inside of a CMS, which enables the administration, modification, publication and maintenance of online content.
The localizability of a given CMS platform is, then, an important consideration, especially when thinking about giving your company a global face.
There are many CMS solutions on the market, both open source and closed proprietary software; however, they are not all peas in a pod in their ability to adapt to multilingual requirements. Many, in fact, do not offer multilingual support.
Some level of linguistic adaptability will be a huge advantage given that effective translation in a dynamic online environment will be hugely enhanced through the selection of the right technology, both to reduce web maintenance and to efficiently collaborate with translators.
It would be wise to ponder a few things before deciding on the best CMS system to meet present and future requirements. The language pairs that one wants to host will influence this decision as not all CMS platforms work seamlessly with all languages. It is important that the accents and diaereses of non-Roman, Asian and Arabic languages and right-to-left languages will be respected.
Similarly, a degree of confidence in time, date, calendar and currency conversions, and the management of stored CMS data, will be well worth the time and money invested in making the right decision.
Other considerations include ease of maintenance, compatibility with search engine optimization requirements, simplicity of integration with independent third-party applications and also marketing and reporting tools, the ability to undertake multi-site maintenance, and, lest we forget, price. That said, many good options are free.
Drupal is among the most popular of the free CMS options with multilingual capabilities. Content can be translated into two or more languages, and site visitors are able to choose between any of them. Other leading free options with multilingual support include SilverStripe, Cushy CMS and dotCMS.
Leading proprietary options include Microsoft Sharepoint, Ektron and ExpressionEngine.
As always, a little bit of research will go a long way in ensuring you find the right fit for your company’s goals.