Five Golden Rules for Designing a Multi-Linguistic Website

As we live in a cosmopolite and multi-lingual world that is constantly expanding its barriers, it’s almost impossible to predict what will the future bring but this is the pleasure of living in these times. I am from Romania but I have friends in India, Germany, Moldavia, and Switzerland with whom I keep a strong friendship even though I didn’t saw them face-to-face; obvious, the blogosphere contributions were the binding elements. The Internet has becomes the main catalyst of this context and its role in making the world a small village is capital. Many investors from the western hemisphere have transferred their affairs in the eastern one and vice-versa, hence the distances are no so important any more. A company or any other important entity has offices all around the world and in order to get in touch with the potential clients, a competitive online presence is compulsory. The job of designing an official website that offers information to a large palette of people, based in different places on the planet is probably one of the most selective tasks, unless it’s the most difficult. A multi-linguistic website has the advantage of demonstrating that the owners care about the potential visitors and tried all their best for their satisfaction. People from Europe have many in common with Asians or Americans but there are still enough differences, some of these being not so well-known making the work of a web designer a strong challenge that requires a complete research about the specificity of the possible visitors.

        First of all, before creating a multilingual website there are two major aspects which must be very clearly determined: the number of variants (how many languages are used) and the potential public target. Knowing this is simpler to determine the cultural particularities of the readers (definitely simpler but not easy). While adding such a website online the owner and the creator constantly worry not to offend people, but you should know that there are cases when these situations can happen. The issues arisen with the building of a multi-lingual website are many and, to help the creators of these, I made up a list of five great tips that are really important, but it can be completed with your ideas, hence use the comment form to share what you believe.

1. There are more aspects than presenting the content in multiple languages 

There are more aspects than presenting the content in multiple languages

[Image via stock.xchng]

The most important rule in creating these kinds of works is that the creators must be aware that a successful multi-lingual website is different from a single one having the content translated in many languages. There are many aspects that may simple destroy the reputation of the owner, as I previously said, there are many differences between people, and in this case anything should be tested and retested. Concisely, anyone who was hired for this job must work enormously to make all the visitors happy; moreover, the attention to details and to the potential cultural differences is vital.

2. The color scheme: the significance of colors is different in various places on the planet 

The color scheme: the significance of colors is different in various places on the planet

 [Image via stock.xchng]

The first aspect noticed by anyone when visiting a website is the visual aspect, unless people read the titles or the texts directly. An appealing layout that delights the visitors clearly will make them to stay more logged on, even to come back sometimes. A good color scheme, used properly may inspire trust to readers and give them the feeling that the owner of the website is also a professional person. The idea is super simple, but when the audience is worldwide the colors have different meanings. It may happen that a color to be liked by some people but hated by others…how to solve this dilemma?

                My piece of advice is to use, as much as possible, a small number of colors that can suffer small modifications in hue and saturation. There are a lot of people who know that there are certain colors which are more liked but, even thought it might sound impolite, nobody can please the entire planet.

3. Images may bring/ scare away the visitors

Images may bring/ scare away the visitors

  [Image via stock.xchng]

Each country has its mentality and the interpretations of an image may vary substantially, but I cannot image a website without an image inserted into the layout. The one who is inspired and selects good images has truly done half of his job but don’t be foolish to believe that this inspiration came from nothing. This is the reason why I specified that it is capital to know where your target public is based; it’s facile to study the mentalities of each country in order to avoid any offense or bad situation. Conclusion: study, study, study!

4. Content is essential: the dilemma of simply translating the content or adjusting it

Content is essential: the dilemma of simply translating the content or adjusting it

   [Image via stock.xchng]

Another issue is strictly related to the language, it can’t be a normal sized text that can be translated perfectly in many languages, there are expressions and words that need fine tuning or adjustments, but not so many to offer different versions. Pay attention to this aspect, it’s clearly a sign of discrimination to offer different ideas to readers according to their nationality and surely you will notice this in the traffic received.

5. Ask for the feedback of people based in various places on the planet

Ask for the feedback of people based in various places on the planet

 [Image via stock.xchng]

To avoid spending many hours reading what impresses and what people from different continents hate, you can simply ask them about your website if it contains some elements that may annoy them. It’s hard to get in touch with so different people but by searching on the Internet, with a few clicks anyone find applications that allow this kind of feedback.

On the other hand, there are so many possibilities to get in touch with people, it is only a matter of time to realize it when someone really wants it.

In the end, I wish you good luck in the attempt to create cool multi-lingual websites that satisfy all the requirements of the Internet users.

About Author

This article has been written by Daniel Pintilie a freelance writer working for for, a Shanghai Web design company that provides web design solution in Beijing ,Sharjah and Middle East.


  • I saw some multilinguistic websites and I didn’t consider these very difficult to create.Now, after reading this post I have a new vision over them. Thanks for this clarification!


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