This article covers 2 key factors of international website design, including:
Creating a multilingual website
Website localization, i.e., customizing your currency, your site’s URL, checkout page, contact page, etc.
A quick note: This article doesn’t cover or include either paid or free website design templates. There are numerous international design templates you can find online, specific to where you host your site. Instead, we focus on must-have elements of any international website design, no matter what template you’re using, and no matter where it’s hosted.
Let’s get started.
Key factor 1: Having a fully multilingual website
Having an international website means having a multilingual site, i.e., a site that’s available in more than one language. And you may need more than one translated version of your site. For example, if you have audiences in Germany, England, and Saudi Arabia, then you’ll want to have a German-language site, an English-language site, and an Arabic-language site.
Sometimes a website will opt to let their customers translate their website on their own, using free tools like Google Translate, but this is a mistake for two reasons.
You don’t want to make it your customer’s responsibility to translate your site using Google Translate through their browser. This offers a bad customer experience, as they’re now dealing with slower load times and unedited translations.
These translate-as-you-go plugins aren’t always accurate or easy to use. When you use a Google Translate extension to translate a site in real-time, you’re not getting a seamless experience. There’s always a lag and some content won’t translate completely, leading to an incorrect translation or confused messaging. Plus, sometimes your site’s design will be broken, leading to a bad user experience.
In short, to provide the best user experience, connect with your new audience, and keep them on your website, you want to create a fully multilingual site that has everything your original site has but in a new language.
Below we show you how you can use Weglot to easily, efficiently, and affordably create a multilingual site without having to worry about:
Writing code/maintaining API connections
Extracting or uploading document files/text
Working with a costly and time-consuming translation agency
Setting up unique hosting domains
Plus, we look at how you can use Weglot’s Visual Editor to make sure your translated content works well with any design template, layout, or design you’re using — a perfect tool for mastering international website design.
Weglot can set up your multilingual, international website within minutes
Weglot can create a multilingual website within minutes, no matter where your site is hosted and no matter what kind of template or design you’re using. Here’s a brief explainer video that shows you how easy it is to set Weglot up.
And when you use Weglot, your website is translated with design in mind.
For example, here’s a look at two different versions of the same site – an English version and an Arabic version.
Here’s the English version.
Here’s the Arabic version.
Notice the difference? English is a left-to-right language, while Arabic is a right-to-left language. Weglot factors this key difference when making a multilingual site. You can see that not only do the translations fit well within the site’s design, but Weglot has also changed the orientation.
The site’s shopping cart and login buttons are on the right for the English-speaking site, and on the left for the Arabic-speaking site.
Accurate, efficient, and affordable translations
Weglot maintains active API connections with leading translation providers, including DeepL, Google Translate, and Microsoft.
When you use Weglot to translate your site, we pick the provider that’s best for your project based on your site’s original language and your new target language.
You don’t need to worry about setting up any API connections, testing different translation providers, etc. Weglot does all that heavy lifting for you.
Once you’ve picked your target language, your entire site can be translated within minutes. And for about ⅔ of our customers, the process stops there. They don’t make any edits to their translated content.
But this post covers international website design, so there’s a chance you might be more interested in how you can customize or modify your translations, which is what we cover next.
Easily access and edit your international website’s translations
After Weglot creates your multilingual, international website, all of your translations can be easily accessed through your Weglot Dashboard.
You can find specific translations by looking up: You can filter through translations by:
A specific URL.
A phrase you want to find.
Or by using Weglot’s Visual Editor to navigate through your site.
This visual editor is a great way to make sure your translations fit within your site’s design. You can easily check for line breaks or whether your translations are aesthetically pleasing. For example, maybe your content is longer in German, leading to an orphan in the header.
You can make edits in real-time because you don’t need to extract or download any files. It’s like editing a normal site page or post.
Plus, You Can Order Translation Services Through Weglot
If you don’t have a translation team ready to review your translations, you can order professional translation services directly through your Weglot dashboard.
Simply pick the translations you wanted to be reviewed by a professional translator, validate, and pay for the order and it will be delivered back and live on your site in 24-48 hours.
Once the translator has finished reviewing the content, your site is automatically updated with any changes.
Key factor 2: Localizing your international website’s design
Above we looked at how you can make your site multilingual – but there are other things to consider besides the language of your content when creating a fully international website.
Depending on your site, you may want to focus on:
Localizing your checkout experience
Localizing your images and marketing materials
Making sure you’re localizing SEO efforts (i.e. helping your new audience find you through search engines)
What to keep in mind when localizing your checkout experience
This is only essential if you’re offering a product or service that someone will buy on your site, i.e. if you’re running something like an eCommerce site. If this doesn’t pertain to you, skip ahead to the next section.
How does your new audience pay for things? While Visa and Mastercard are relatively global, they’re by no means the most popular method in every country. Countries will often have their own payment methods or will rely heavily on PayPal or “buy now and pay on arrival” methods.
Do you need your customer’s address, or just a phone number and email? Even if you’re not shipping a product, you may need their billing address, and billing addresses change drastically from country to country.
What currency does your customer use? You want a currency switcher, so someone buying your product in South Korea can see the prices in won, while a customer in France can see the prices in euros.
What to keep in mind when localizing your images and marketing materials
A big part of the design is figuring out how your design will be received by your audience. The best method may not be taking your existing design and keeping it the same, depending on where your new audience is located.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, that will help you figure out how much you need to re-design/modify your site for your new international audience.
Do your images and visuals resonate with your audience? Some cultures may value more the “sale” or “promo” aspect of your business, while others value more the use case of your product. Some cultures may value sustainability, while others value community. You want to look into these to make sure you’re using the images and visuals that will resonate the most with your audience.
What are the sales trends and holidays of your new audience? This is important, as not every holiday or significant day on the calendar is one that you’ll tie to sales and promos. Here’s a recent example of localization gone wrong – KFC used an automated email generator to send out sales emails around holidays. The problem was that KFC sent out an email on a day of mourning/remembrance in Germany’s history. This was not a day of celebration, but a day of mourning. By not looking at the meaning of a holiday, KFC alienated and angered their German customer base (the exact opposite of what they hoped to do with localization).
Multilingual SEO (and how Weglot can help)
Above we looked at:
How to translate your site with Weglot
The importance of localization
Now let’s look at multilingual SEO, or getting your new international website its audience.
You want your new website to show up in the right search engines – this is something we automatically help you with when you use Weglot to manage your multilingual, international website.
Weglot helps your site’s SEO in three ways.
Your international website’s on-page SEO elements are automatically translated. Weglot translates your metadata and alt tags. And like all of your other translated content, you can edit these translations to make sure they’re targeting the right SEO keywords.
Weglot creates subdomains/subdirectories for your international sites. When you use Weglot, your translated content is automatically displayed under a language subdomain or subdirectory of your main site. For example, weglot.com is our English site, while weglot.com/fr/ is our French site. We didn’t need to set this up – Weglot did it for us.
Finally, Weglot lets search engines know you have a multilingual site. When search engines crawl your site, they’ll see code that tells them that you have translated versions of your site available. It also tells them which translated versions you have available.