Zoran Luledzija
Zoran Luledzija
August 31, 2023
6 min read
August 31, 2023
6 min read

Multilingual CMS: Digital content for a global audience

Multilingual CMS: Digital content for a global audience

Have you ever bumped into the idea of multilingual digital content? If you're engaged in web development or content creation, I bet this has crossed your mind at some point in time. But what's the real story behind multilingual content? Are there any benefits? How difficult can it be to manage content in different languages? There are lots of questions to consider. In this post, we will try to answer some of them.

How do most websites handle digital content?

Digital content is one of the most important things when it comes to your business's presence on the internet. It comprises text, images, videos, and other multimedia elements that shape the user experience. However, managing such content is not easy. Not everyone possesses programming skills or has access to tech-savvy professionals. This is where a CMS (Content Management System) becomes invaluable. A CMS empowers users to create, edit, organize, and publish digital content on websites without delving into direct coding. Given these benefits, it's easy to see why so many businesses trust CMSs to power their websites.

What is a CMS?

A Content Management System (CMS) is software designed for the easy creation, management, and updating of digital content on websites. It allows users, often without technical expertise, to manage content and other aspects of a website such as its theme, layout, and the like. The CMS often includes intuitive editors that are similar to familiar word processing tools. Beyond this, CMSs support various roles, from admins to content editors, providing appropriate rights for each type of user. Moreover, most of them support plugins that allow you to extend their existing functionalities, thereby better meeting users' needs.

It's worth noting that in light of the growing popularity of mobile apps and single page applications (SPA), many CMSs have adapted their capabilities. While they continue to support the traditional content management approach with presentation layers, they have also embraced a 'headless' mode of operation. In this headless approach, CMSs focus exclusively on content management and, using APIs, allow content to be retrieved for various platforms like mobile apps, desktop apps, websites, and more.

What is a multilingual CMS?

Multilingual CMS can be viewed as an advanced version of a regular CMS, designed to handle content in multiple languages. Given this specialized function, the system should come equipped with:

  • Language flexibility: There shouldn’t be any limitations on languages, fonts, or any elements that might prevent adding new languages.
  • Website structure preservation: This means easily making changes like updating navigation, altering links, adding language-specific page identifiers, and integrating a language switcher without disrupting the site's overall layout.
  • Language specific customizations: Since not all languages read from left to right, the CMS should cater to variations in text direction. Additionally, it should adjust date, time, and number displays based on the chosen language.
  • SEO adaptabilities: The system should simplify the addition of multilingual SEO elements, such as hreflang tags and language-tailored meta descriptions.
  • Integration with translation platforms: The CMS should allow seamless integration with specialized translation platforms for easier translation tasks.

Benefits of a multilingual content management system

Support for multiple languages on your website is quite important when you are targeting various markets with different languages. Below, we've listed some key benefits:

  • Expanding market reach: By offering content in multiple languages, businesses can connect with a wider range of audiences. Potential customers from non-English speaking regions can access the website and understand its offerings, leading to a broader customer base and higher sales potential.

  • Enhanced user experience: A multilanguage website shows cultural sensitivity and understanding. When visitors can engage with content in their native language, they are more likely to spend more time on the site, understand the messaging clearly, and have a positive user experience. This can boost trust and brand loyalty.

  • Competitive advantage: Offering a multilanguage site can set a business apart from competitors who may only cater to English-speaking audiences. This not only signifies a global presence but can also be a decisive factor for users when choosing between similar services or products.

  • Improved SEO and web traffic: Search engines value relevance and user experience. By catering to non-English search queries, you can rank higher in local search engine results, driving more organic traffic from diverse geographical regions.

  • Increased sales and conversions: Users are more likely to make purchases or convert on calls-to-action when they are presented in their native language. Studies have shown that people prefer to buy products and services in their own language, even if they understand English. By catering to this preference, businesses can increase their conversion rates and overall revenue.

What are the best multilingual content management systems?

Compiling a list of the best multilingual content management systems can be challenging. Every CMS brings its own set of merits, be it unrivaled performance, effortless scalability, extensive plugins, user-friendly design, or unique functionalities. Yet, the widespread adoption of some CMSs suggests their aptitude in meeting user demands. Here are some of the most popular content management systems that facilitate effortless handling of multilingual content, either inherently or via plugins:

WordPress

WordPress is an open-source and powerful content management system that powers over one-third of the web. Initially developed as a blogging platform, it has since evolved to support a wide variety of web content. Thanks to its extensive library of plugins, users can tailor their sites to achieve almost any digital objective, making WordPress a preferred choice for both novices and expert web developers.

Joomla

Joomla is an open-source content management system that is both robust and flexible. Used globally to create and manage websites, it is renowned for its extensibility. It caters to both simple blogs and complex web applications alike. With a vast library of extensions and a vibrant community, Joomla continues to be a preferred choice for web developers and site owners.

Drupal

Drupal is an open-source content management system known for its flexibility, scalability, and robust security features. Favored by developers for its modular architecture, it allows for the creation of customized digital experiences. Renowned for powering complex websites, Drupal has become a top choice for enterprises, nonprofits, and governments around the world.

TYPO3

TYPO3 is a powerful and flexible open-source content management system popular in Europe and widely used for building and managing websites of varying scales. With its extensive feature set, user-friendly interface, and extensible architecture, TYPO3 offers both beginners and developers a robust platform to create customized web solutions. Its longevity in the market, active community, and commitment to security make it a trusted choice for enterprises and small businesses alike.

How to efficiently manage multilingual content on your website?

Different content management systems may have different practices when it comes to handling multilingual content. Also, different teams may have different workflows, and each website is a story in itself. However, some strategies are universal and work in every case:

  • Structured localization messages: It's essential to organize your localization messages in an intuitive manner. Typically, these are stored in language-specific localization files, ensuring easy access and seamless modifications down the line.
  • Start simple, then scale: If you're navigating the complexities of multilingual content for the first time, begin with a straightforward approach. Often, merely translating your localization messages and adapting imagery for different languages suffices. As your requirements evolve, you can incrementally tailor more pages for distinct languages. Adopting this phased approach ensures you don't add undue complexity to your CMS or codebase prematurely.
  • Embrace automation: Streamline your process by automating repetitive and time-intensive tasks, allowing you to focus on optimizing content quality and reach.
  • Integrate localization tools: To enhance your multilingual content management, consider integrating dedicated localization tools into your CMS or workflow. Such tools can drastically reduce errors associated with manual editing, accelerate translation processes, and foster a more collaborative environment with your translation team.

Conclusion

In this article, we've delved into the concept of a multilingual CMS, its advantages for targeting diverse markets, and the potential benefits and challenges of running such a website.

While digital content management is a key part of CMS-based websites, the complexity grows when introducing multiple languages. With tools like Localizely, you can ease common localization tasks, improve synergy with your translators, and enjoy even more features. Try it out for free.

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Zoran Luledzija
Zoran Luledzija

Zoran is a Software Engineer at Localizely. His primary interest is web development, but he also has a solid background in other technologies. For the last few years, he has been involved in the development of software localization tools.

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