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Website localisation: How to future-proof multilingual websites

Published on June 13th, 2019

We have published plenty of articles on this blog about the challenges of building and maintaining a multilingual website. One of the biggest challenges for brands marketing to international audiences is the long-term cost of managing a multilingual site.

It pains us to see so many brands get started off on the wrong foot with their websites – something that results in hefty maintenance, redesign and development fees further down the road. International brands need to future-proof their websites or waste thousands (or even millions) in ongoing expenses that could have been avoided.

Website localisation: The early steps matter

The most common mistake brands make when it comes to creating a multilingual website is diving in without with the necessary knowledge or research. The issue is, the early steps you take (things like choosing a domain name and website structure) are going to affect everything you do further down the road.

Making a mistake at this stage is going to cost you big in the long run and often the only solution is to start again from scratch. Take a look at our post on five multilingual SEO mistakes to avoid at all costs for more information on how to get started on the right path.

Avoiding those expensive redesign and development costs

Once you have the technical fundamentals covered, the battle of running a multilingual website is about avoiding expensive redesign and development costs. Let’s imagine you have spent £40,000 on a lovely website covering three different languages and then you decide you want to add Italian into the mix.

Are you going to pay for developers to copy every single line of code (repeated work) and add the Italian text to the new version of your site?

Or let’s say you are looking to redesign your entire website. The coding structure of multilingual websites means you are actually running multiple separate sites linked together. So are you going to pay for developers to implement the same design changes five times over (more repeated work) or are you going to localise your website from day one to avoid these expenses?

By localising the core code of your site, you can simply launch a new version of your website with all the same code and upload a new language file – job done. Likewise, all future design changes can be made in one place, so you only ever pay developers to do each task once.

Failing to localise core code and files in this way is by far the most common and expensive mistake we see international brands make.

Creating evergreen, multilingual content

Content production is one of the most demanding marketing practices for modern brands. This applies to multilingual brands more than any other and getting the best ROI on the time and money you invest in content is crucial. Evergreen content (the kind that stays relevant over time) generally performs most effectively in search engines and addresses the ongoing needs of people in your target audiences.

This is a well-established content strategy for brands in every industry.

Achieving this as a multilingual brand requires two things: firstly, quality translation to convert your evergreen content into other languages. Secondly, you also need to think about content localisation, because the kind of evergreen content that works can vary in different language markets. Sometimes you have to create completely fresh content in foreign languages, tailored to the unique needs of those audiences.

For more information on content localisation, take a look at our previous blog post on creating strategic multilingual content. Alternatively, if you have any questions about website localisation and how to future-proof your brand’s online presence, get in touch with us.

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Posted on: June 13th, 2019