Select the perfect CMS for multilingual websites

So you’ve decided to translate your website into multiple languages, but don’t know where to start. Website translation and localisation is a large project to undertake but when done correctly it’s well worth the investment. Luckily for you, we’re here to explain the elements you’ll need to consider when selecting which Content Management System (CMS) will manage the translated content for your multilingual website.

There are quite a few Content Management Systems on the market, but when it comes to developing and managing multilingual websites, some are much better than others. Selecting the right CMS at the start of your website translation and localisation project is crucial in ensuring that your multilingual website is created and managed effectively.

And there’s not just translation to consider. Currencies, measurements, imagery, public holidays, cultural sensitivities, multilingual SEO and layout are just some of the things that will need adapting.

So how do choose the right CMS for you? Here are some questions you can ask to help you decide:

  1. How flexible is the system in storing content from different languages?
    Make sure your CMS supports all the different languages your website will eventually be published in. Also remember to consider foreign characters, accents, and language direction.
  2. Will the CMS administrator panels be displayed in multiple languages?
    By providing a localised interface in the CMS, users in different countries will be able to use the system in their native language.
  3. Can content be easily exported for translation, and re-imported afterwards?
    A CMS that can export/import content using standard file formats such as XML and XLIFF makes for a smoother exchange with your translation partner.
  4. Can multilingual sites be built easily for multiple platforms?
    Your customers may access your website from their phone or table instead of a desktop PC. Make sure the CMS supports these devices.
  5. Can the CMS handle multiple payment method sin different currencies depending on locale?
    If you intend to sell products or services through your international websites, your CMS will need to support multilingual e-commerce or integrate with a third-party e-commerce platform provider. Your customers need to know how much they are paying!
  6. How does the CMS handle and support multilingual Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
    How you handle multilingual SEO depends on your marketing strategy and desired audience. The CMS will need to support your chosen approach, be it top-level domains, subdomains or subdirectories.
  7. Does the CMS support global websites and local content?
    You’ll need to choose a multilingual CMS that allows you to generate and manage independent websites for each country and indicate which content should be translated into each language.
  8. Does the CMS offer the formatting flexibility needed for different languages?
    Different cultures use various formats for dates, times, currency, and other information, sometimes even within the same language.
    Text length: The CMS should allow for text expansion due to different language lengths. For example, German or Russian text usually takes up more space than English, but texts in Asian languages take up less space. You’ll also need to think about translating sections with character restrictions and menus with fixed widths.
    Page layout: If you translate your website into languages that are written from right to left, such as Arabic, Persian or Urdu, the page layout should be flipped over so that it’s a mirror image of the pages in left-to-right languages. Some images and page elements will also be needed.
    Font sizes: Languages such as Chinese, Korean and Arabic can be difficult to read at font sizes that are perfectly legible for languages like English or French. Using separate style sheets is a solution to this problem.
  9. How does the CMS manage media?
    Images and PDFs are harder to manage than content text because several versions of each may need to be uploaded depending on if there is localised content within them. A good CMS should allow for separate, localised media galleries and a way to organise media so the original is always on hand.
  10. How are translation workflows managed?
    It’s important that each language site have its own separate workflow so it can be published and updated without the other languages being changed as well. For example, you’ll want to publish the English version of a page before launching the translated versions.

Comtec is on hand to offer support and advice in getting your multilingual website set up and ready for translation and localisation. Get in touch with any questions by calling + 44 (0) 1926 335 68 or by emailing

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