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Multi-language web design


A website with only one language can looks not user friendly if your main language use a NON-Latin characters like the Thai alphabet. Creating a multilanguage website is not only add a language. There are many problems related in the creation of a correct multilingual website.

Multilanguages or multilingual website
Add English to your website
Add a new language without incur in typical web design errors.


Multilanguage website VS automatic translation

These are two completely different things. The automatic translation can lead to big misunderstanding between the users and the visitors or customers. It should be avoided.

I can understand that an English website can’t be easily read from a Chinese and vice versa. But as online translators and browser translation features abound, let the users decide if apply this choice. If you will be offering an automatic translated version of your website or web page, he will assume that the content has been properly written from you [website owner, company] and he will encounter some perplexities:

  • Why is so badly written?
  • Why I cannot understand easily?
  • Why the content is confused?
Instead if the user/customer will apply by himself a non human translation, he will be somehow aware that possible mistake and misunderstanding can occur.

Especially in description of products and details of a service an automatic translation can lead the user to abandon the page as for not understanding the products. Same sad result from a not clear path to a payment gateway.

On the other hand instead, if is the visitor to use Google translator he will not give too much importance to the translation as he will believe that mistakes are to be blamed to the online translator.

Human translation is better. Is it true that with human translation you can have some spelling errors as well as grammar and verb conjugation errors. But the message and the content will not be misunderstood.

Each page to each page

When creating a website is very important considering the links to the other language. The web design should link each page to its exact same page in the other language.

For example, if you are in “contacts page” of an English website, by clicking the link to (for example) the Thai language, you should get the contacts page in Thai, not the Home page in Thai! I see many website keeping on doing this mistake. It is very annoying for the users. They are forced to re navigate the website.

Image a user that got a page from a search engine result after navigate through various links and he/she sees there is his/her preferred language available. After click the link, instead he (yes he or she, sorry) will be landing in the home page with different content and different images. He will be disoriented and he will probably go back to a new search, maybe saying ugh! Ufff!

Moreover, this unfriendly user interface mistake is considered unfriendly also from Google for three main reasons:
  1. Mistake in URL structure: from contacts.php (for example) the page go to the index.php (home page)
  2. The anchor text of the link is probably not congruous with the content of the page
  3. The content of the page is absolutely not congruous with the other language counterpart page
And this will reflect to your SEO performance.

A common way (but not the only one) to create a navigation menu' in websites is to include a file (or a file each language) with all the links using the php include file function:

<? include 'file-with-your-links.php';?>

In this way you can put a link to another language (maby something like a flag) in the above file that will appear in all the pages. But it will point to the same page regardless which page you are visiting in that moment.
To avoid this a simple method (note that there are many other ways to achieve it) is to let the link be created by a php string that will add an extension (or will add a folder prefix).
Assuming that your file name is contacts.php and the respective file in Thai is contacts_th.php, in the above part of the file contacts.php you will add this:

<?php $path = "https://yourdomain.com/your-website-folder/contacts.php"; ?>

And in the language link of the file-with-your-links.php (that will be common to all the pages) modify as follow:

<a href="<? echo basename($path,".php"); ?>_TH.php" title="ภาษาไทย">ภาษาไทย</a>

The echo basename will print the link target corresponding to the file name of the path (see above), will remove .php and will add _TH.php. So in any page you will have the exact name of the same page modified to point to the other language file.
You can do also from Thai to English then, removing _TH.php and replace it with only .php:

<a href="<? echo basename($path,"_TH.php"); ?>.php" title="English language">English</a>

You can also give appropriate title and anchor text using variables parked in any relative page. If you want to study it go to PHP 5 echo and print Statements learning page and run the example in the Display Variables section.

If your website is in html you can force to run php function in the html file itself. Add in the .htaccess file in the root of your website this syntax (if php 5):

AddHandler application/x-httpd-php5 .html

Or

AddHandler application/x-httpd-lsphp .htm .html

In case the first one does not work.

Missing pages

If a website is very rich in contents can be that some articles don’t have the translation, or don’t have it yet. So what to do with the link to the second language?

Never generically link back to the homepage! As we described above it will be a not congruous link.

Never insert the # in the link (# it means that after clicking the link will not go anywhere, the visitor will remain in the same page). In both the above cases the URL structure of the website will not be uniform. And clicking a link that let you stay in the same page is very confusing. You will start to think about problems with internet and when realized that the connection is OK you will think about a website malfunction or a browser incompatibility. Or you will simply ugh and ufff again.

The correct way to handle it is to create a page with the layout as all the other pages including the navigation and other details, in the above the fold area post a correct translation of the title with a short description and add the note that the page is not yet ready in this language and place a link back to the page with the content in the original language.

In this way, even from a SEO point of view, the worst that can happen is that the search engine will drop from the index that single almost empty page but will still consider the navigation of the website user friendly and uniform.

Inclusion of languages

This is a very common issue.

Example: you have a Thai language page with Thai content and you have to add some English text:

“...เพื่อช่วยพัฒนาเว็บไซต์ให้เจริญเติบโตอย่างรวดเร็วและครอบคลุมทุกพื้นที่ สำหรับเคล็ดลับเว็บโฮสติ้งของเรามี cPanel® แหล่งที่รวบรวมองค์ประกอบหลายสิ่งหลายอย่าง เช่น Attracta® SEO tools, website backup wizard, CloudFlare, password protect directories, parked domain...”

These inclusions are due because many of these words are actually commonly used and recognized in English in many languages.

As from html correct syntax the English part should be included in the following way:

วบรวมองค์ประกอบหลายสิ่งหลายอย่าง เช่น <span lang="en" Attracta® SEO tools, website backup wizard...</span>

But sometimes can be very time consuming.

The suggestions are:
  • In case you insert a domain name webdee-seoservice.com for example, don’t insert the span lang, search engine will realize that is a domain
  • In case of acronyms don’t use the span lang
  • In the other case try to use it
The correct language indication in the html code suggests that the English inclusion has been placed for a purpose and so that the web page is not a messing up with languages.

Moreover and probably even more important, people with visual impairment problems use reader to read websites. The span lang will indicate in which language to read and pronounce the content of that span. And a friendly visual impairment website get boost in SEO!

To let a reader work correctly you have to state the language in the head of the html document:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en">

Privacy and Terms of Service pages

These pages are also called legal pages. You shouldn’t attempt to translate as them will probably lose the legal value in another language. Beside if you use a perfect translation.

Just create a general translation of your main privacy policy and terms of service in short, state that the page is not to be intended as legal or binding and for more precise information relies on the main language that will prevail, and add a link to that page.

Google

And other search engine don’t like website that mess up with languages. Users neither do. You read a webpage in a language that you understand, follow a link and you are in a page that is in another language, not good!

Some exception can be tolerated if the link is to another domain, to an external website. In that case probably the source does not have another language version available, the content is valuable and so it is anyway a good tip to a reader. Please advice in the anchor text that the target will be in a different language.

But within the same domain/website avoid linking to contents in different language as much as possible.

Technically you can give an indication inside the meta tag of the head section of the page that link to the same page in another language. A syntax example:

<link rel="alternate" href="https://airportmilantaxi.com/index.php" hreflang="it" /> <link rel="alternate" href="https://airportmilantaxi.com/index_en.php" hreflang="en" /> <link rel="alternate" href="https://แท็กซี่สนามบินมิลาน.com/index.php" hreflang="th" />


If it is getting too complicate can read a specific article: International optimization

If you are not sure about this, just ignore it and stick to perfect links: each one to the exact relative page, it will be very user friendly and so Google friendly.

Easy to find

How do I change the language? This is the first thought of anybody as soon as land in a web page with an incomprehensible language.

Strangely many big actors fall in this terrible user unfriendly mistake. Even Google itself. Ironically the most difficult way to change the language is in ...Google translator! The language switch should be an anchor text visible and written in the language of the target, not in the actual language! If I am English and I am looking to a touristic website about Moscow that is in Russian and the “English link” is written in Russian (для английского нажмите здесь= for English click here), how will I find it? It seems obvious but as you can see it also in the below example, this mistake is presents, and in many websites too!

Click to enlarge
Easy languages switch
Easy: in this example you can
immediately locate a familiar language
between unknown characters.
 
Link to Google

Click to enlarge
Difficult languages switch
Bad: in this example you cannot
locate a familiar language if you
don't know Thai characters and
don't scroll down!
Link to Google My Business


Click to enlarge
No languages switch
Impossible: in this example you cannot
locate any language switch
beside you don't know the trick!
 
Link to Google Translator

Click to enlarge
Good languages switch
Very good: in this example you easily
locate any language switch and
the language is written in the
language itself! Very easy.
Link to Lawyers in Thailand

The last example is a website that has 5 languages. Very easy to find and read in the proper language. Thai and Russian use a different alphabet and people will be happy to find the name of them language in them characters. Very easy.
Did you note something?
The page is in English and there is no English flag. Of course, you are in the English language, if you are looking for the English language why would you switch if you are already in English?
In another language version you will do find the English flag.

This technique avoid that people with visual impairment, while listening to the reader, go on listen again and again "link to English language". Indeed, clicking the link they will be in the same page again to listen again "link to English language". They are already in the English version, why should you annoying them with a voice telling "Link to English language"?

A flag will be good and easily to locate but it is not friendly for people that suffer some visual impairment. In that case the flag file should be renamed properly: english-language-link.jpg and also add an alt attribute so the reader will read it.

If you don’t want to lose milliseconds in load an image for a flag you can use the relative html symbol. This can be very useful for smart phone on poor internet connection where every bite is precious. But consider that some browser can’t yet render it. You can play with it: International countries and flag symbols.

The best solution is always an anchor text visible and written in the language of the target:

Click to enlarge
User friendly languages switch
Friendly: in this example you can
immediately locate a familiar flag
between unknown characters.

Click to enlarge
Perfect languages switch
Almost perfect: in this example you can
immediately locate a familiar flag
In both desktop and mobile menu'.

Auto detecting a language

Automatic language detection or auto detecting languages systems allow to redirect or to serve to the browser the webpage in a determinate language instead of another one. This is possible considering various parameters:
  • The location (IP) of the user
  • The language of the browser
  • Previous visit to the same site (usually with cookies)
  • Setting of the user if navigate in a session where user name is required
  • Other
These systems are usually adopted from big websites that have versions in many countries like Google, Yahoo, Amazon and many more websites.

Whereas can be useful for people of one language get them language without clicking a flag or choosing a language from a drop down menu’, for people that are travelling or expats can be a nightmare. Especially when land in nations with a different kind of alphabet (just few examples: Thailand, Russia, Arab countries...). The user will not be able to find the way back to English because everything (even the word “language”) is written in an incomprehensible way: ไทย, русский, عربى!

So when the owner of the website deems that it is necessary to have an auto detecting languages system it should be implemented also a visible and Latin-written link where to change the language. Maybe adding some flags as well.

Another problem of auto detecting languages system is that, even after the user find the way to get a more familiar language, can happen that during the navigation the website switch back to the language of the country, maybe even during a credit card transaction in an e-commerce.

Before install a system that will automatically switch the language depending on some parameters, don’t think twice but think 10 times!

If your website just has few languages DON’T use an auto detecting languages system. Just serve as main language the language of the country of the website and place a visible language switch. It will be much more appreciate.

Pricing

There are two main factors to determinate a price to create a Multilanguage or multilingual website:
  1. Do you need the structure only in double language and you will fill your content
  2. Do you need also the translation?
And between these points, if you just need the structure (so flags and appropriate links from each to each page) will you provide the anchor text in both languages or do you also need the translations of the anchor texts?

Anyway, to give you a starting indication:
The cost to add a second languages to a website that we design, that you will buy from one of ours offers (till 10 pages) is 3,000 THB above the cost of the website. This price does not include translation, just the set up of the extra languages page. You have to provide the translation.
If you also need the translation (limited to title, description and intro) the price is 6,000 THB.

You can see more prices of various website and services in the pricing page.

For full translation prices must discuss in advance.

Note

All the above topics are consider whenever you will ask the design of a multilanguages website.
So a multilingual website designed and created from us will not incur in these mistakes.

Why?

Why this website has only one language? Thai not ready yet...

For anything you want to ask: info@webdee-seoservice.com or fill the form in the contacts page.