Check the handy strategies on how to apply UX concepts to multilingual website design to make user experience friendly for users that don’t speak English.

You may expand to new countries or want an international website right from the start. In any case, you will have to take care of the multilingualism of your users. Unfortunately, translating is not enough: you have to take care of the user experience or UX for short.

The primary purpose of UX is to ensure that a website visitor goes through the best experience possible. Will you consider not finding a “choose language” button or untranslated text on the pictures as the best experience? Probably no. It is the small details that matter when ensuring the best UX.

In this article, we have prepared tips on how to apply UX concepts to multilingual website design. Get to know little details that will save the day for your customers that do not speak English!

Advantages of Having a Multilingual Website

Since it takes a lot to build a multilingual website, you may question whether it is actually worth all the effort. Therefore, let’s look at the advantages of giving you additional inspiration to start working.

New Customers and More Sales

English speakers dominate the Internet because it was firstly used in English-speaking countries where people had PCs and phones. However, times are changing now. People from Africa, South America, Asia have access to the World Wide Web. At the same time, users from these areas may not speak English at all. Consequently, they can use your services only if you have multilingual versions of the site. If you have those, you will be able to expand to the new markets and attract new customers. Imagine what a significant shift in revenue you will have with all the new prospects.

Increase in Loyalty

By taking an extra step to adjust your website to other countries’ needs, you show that you respect and truly care about your customers and their cultures. They will appreciate your efforts and choose you over the competitors that require English knowledge from their customers.

Prove Your Internationality

If a brand claims that it is internationally recognized and works with clients worldwide, they have to show it with actions, not words. Having a multilingual website is a clear indicator that the brand is really represented worldwide.

These were the main advantages, but there is much more to that. For example, consider better website ranking, cost-effectiveness, reducing bounce rates, and others. It does make sense to put effort and money into a multilingual website.

Tips for Applying UX in a Multilingual Website

As we have mentioned before, translating the words is not enough. Every language has its peculiarities and represents different cultures. Therefore, you should be considering cultural aspects as well. Let’s take a closer look at how culture and language should be used to achieve the best user experience.

Easy to Find Global Gateway

You can have the perfectly tailored multilingual versions, but what does it matter if a user cannot find these versions? Many websites have a switching option hidden away, and some have “Choose your language” as an invitation to a gateway.

In the first case, users will not know that the site has multilingual versions. Therefore, all the efforts went in vain. In the second case, people who do not speak English from early childhood and don’t have the resources to hire an English tutor will not know what this button is for and never find the gateway.

The best option is to make a drop-down menu at the top of the page where it is written “English.” You can go for a website footer, but it is less likely that website visitors will see it there. Every language should be written in its vocabulary – for example, do not write Spanish but Español. Using flags is not the best idea either: Spanish is spoken in numerous countries – Chile, Argentina, Cuba, Paraguay, etc. So it is quite exclusive to put the Spanish flag.

Do not forget to do the same with currency!

multilingual website design

Source: Airbnb

Consistent Branding

Every brand has its colors, fonts, and style of content creation that makes them recognizable globally, so it is not only about the logo. If visitors go to another version of the website and find themselves in a place with absolutely different branding, they may think that some error has occurred and they are on the website of a completely different brand or a mockup. Therefore, their trust level will immediately go down.

The best option is to preserve the design, layouts, and colors of your initial website. Yet, keep in mind that not all fonts support different scripts, so try to find a font that works for every possible script.

Speaking about the fonts, you should remember that English uses relatively short words. For example, the English language has “save” for German “speichern” with the latter being twice as long. When designing buttons, menus, etc., you have to take that into account.

multilingual website design

Source: Zara US

multilingual website design

Source: Zara Germany

Take Care of Visual Content

We can usually see some inscriptions on the pictures. It is a good strategy: people will know immediately what the post is about. However, multilingual websites have a say in it as well. There is no way that a non-English speaker will understand what you have put in that image. It will only confuse them. If you do bother with translating the text on images, your website visitors will feel the personalization and how much your brand does to ensure their best experience.

multilingual website design

Source: Starbucks Poland

Consider Internet Speeds

Even though users have laptops and smartphones globally, it does not mean that they have access to advanced mobile services. Some countries do not use 4G. Some countries have an extremely slow Internet.

If you have a Turkish version of the website, keep in mind that all the pretty layouts and pictures of high quality that can be easily uploaded in South Korea will take quite some time in Turkey. You can remove, optimize, or change graphics to keep your loading time under at least two seconds.

multilingual website design

Take Culture into Account

Any good translator knows that cultural differences are what makes translation so tricky. It is not only about local food or the names of the holidays. It is about what is acceptable, how people look and dress when they wake up, and what symbols they put in colors.

What does it have to do with UX, you may ask. For example, it is okay for the USA citizens to see same-sex couples while it is a taboo in India. So if you do not readjust the visual content, you might run into problems with the Indian website visitors.

It is also essential to include the question of representation on your website. For example, if you hire only white European males, it will be quite exclusive for the black community or Asian people. They will not identify themselves with what you are trying to sell, so they will not buy it.

Moreover, if you are designing a website for a Middle Eastern country, you need to keep in mind that Arabic, Hebrew, and Urdu are read from right to left which can become a significant challenge for a designer. Robert Dodis, in his article for Smashing Magazine, says that designing for RTL languages means just flipping the interface. Here is how Facebook has solved this problem.

 

multilingual website design

Source: Facebook

multilingual website design

Source: Facebook

Conclusion

Creating a multilingual website with the UX is not the most straightforward task. You have to consider not only visitors as the website users but as cultural representatives. That requires a lot of research and taking care of small details.

It is necessary to create easy access to a global gateway, keep your branding consistent on any version of the site, translate visual content, optimize the website according to different Internet speeds and take culture into account.

However, all the work pays off. The benefits of a multilingual website are apparent, and your ROI will definitely fly high.

About the Author: Kevin White is a freelance writer passionate about new web technologies, web designs, and marketing strategies. He is always looking for new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it is always important to stay on trend and keep up with the latest.

Title image from Abstract pack in Ouch illustration library

Learn about the top soft skills for UX designers, check how interface illustrations enhance user experience, read how UX improves trust and loyalty to the website, and review the design practices on user retention.

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