Choosing your CMS for website translations

The content management system (CMS) your global website uses will define how you manage the workflow for any website translation project. Some have multilingual capabilities, whilst others allow for ‘plugins’ (software codes that enable an application to perform additional function) to be added that allow you to create multilingual websites.

In this post I will go back to basics, exploring what the ideal CMS should look like if your business wants to develop and manage multilingual websites.

The perfect CMS for multi-site website translations

These are the things I recommend looking for in a new CMS:

Site architecture designed for globalisation – it should be easy to generate new local websites and manage which parts of the site (templates, pages and media) will be translated and localised.

Full Unicode support – want to translate your site into Japanese, Arabic or Russian? These languages use characters, not the Latin alphabet like English. Unicode support will allow your website content to be translated using the full range of linguistic characters including accents and umlauts, non-Roman scripts such as Asian and Arabic languages, and left-to-right languages.

Uncomplicated import/export of text – while your translation partner may recommend integrating their Translation Management Software (TMS) with your CMS (more on this later) at the very least you will require the ability to easily import and export text as XML or other standard formats.

Translation workflow tools – website translation projects can be complex and therefore it’s important to have tools to handle the process smoothly. You’ll also want a way to manage the workflow for translating and publishing new content or updating old.

Multilanguage capacity – it’s easy to forget that while much of your local website will need to be translated from English to the target language, some content may already exist in that language.  Can your CMS handle this or if, for example, your local team want to publish a blog post or news item they’ve written?

Localised media galleries – website localisation projects often involve replacing the images on your source site with more culturally relevant and appropriate images on each local site. Can the CMS manage different media galleries?

Can it integrate with your translation partner’s TMS? – to avoid the process of exporting and importing text, depending on the CMS selected, it is possible to integrate your website’s content management system with your translation partner’s management system, their Translation Management Software (TMS). This allows a smooth transfer of content for translation and publishing. For more on website translation and CMS integration click here.

Is it mobile-friendly? – in many global markets consumers prefer to use mobiles and tablets for browsing online, and for making ecommerce purchases. Google also penalises websites that are not mobile-friendly, ranking them lower than other comparable sites. Make sure your CMS works on multiple platforms.

Ecommerce websites – if your business wants to facilitate cross border trade by processing online payments, the CMS must support multiple payment methods and currencies.

Multilingual SEO – you’ll want your local websites to rank on search engines for the keywords your target customers use to find your products. Along with extensive keyword research (as the keywords you use in English may not be the ones being searched for in your target language), the CMS should also support multilingual SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

If you’re not in the market for a new CMS you may find that your existing one already has much of the functionality discussed above. For help and advice on website translation using your existing CMS please get in touch to discuss your specific requirements.

We’ve just published a new guide to website translation and localisation! Called 6 Steps to Website Translation and Localisation, you can download your copy here.

You may also find the following articles useful if you’re planning to create multilingual websites with existing content management systems:

Website translation and localisation in WordPress

Website translation and localisation in Drupal – Part 1

Website translation and localisation in Drupal – Part 2

Website translation and localisation in Joomla! – Part 1

Website translation and localisation in Joomla! – Part 2

website translation, website localisation


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