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Selecting the Right Multilingual CMS to Manage International Websites

Ever wondered how multinational corporations manage content, digital assets, documents and microsites in multiple languages across different regions around the world whilst maintaining their brand consistency and allowing marketing teams the flexibility they need in local markets?

Choosing the right CMS is instrumental in launching and managing a successful multilingual website.


This blog will highlight some of the key features you should look for when selecting a multilingual CMS for the Global Market place.


A. Centralized Control and Management of your Website

The Web Content Management Solution (WCMS) you choose should allow you the capability to support and manage your international website, country specific websites or microsites, multiple languages and brands using a single platform while at the same time giving you the ability to customize and adapt your content and sites for local markets. There are many benefits to using a single platform to manage your international website such as maintaining control of your overall site design, branding, navigation structure as well as the ability to share and reuse content in various sections or pages across the site.

The WCMS you choose should be equipped with the following administration, development and content features:

1. Architecture, Configuration, Administration

The WCMS you choose should be equipped with built-in tools to allow you the capability to:

  1. Manage any number of sites and micro-sites for local markets, promotions or online marketing campaigns
  2. Manage Security and Permissions for users based on language, individual business units or locale
  3. Support an Internationalized User Interface – The CMS user interface should be available in multiple languages
  4. The ability to enable and disable as many languages as you require
  5. The ability to set up the required approval chains and workflows for each language
  6. Monitor and test the performance of content and pages across all languages and websites
  7. Template functionality that lets fields be marked as unique to a specific language or shared across all languages
  8. Support for Right-to-left Languages such as Arabic
  9. Support for Unicode and Eastern Languages
  10. Manage translation workflows for each language
  11. Versioning
  12. Content Properties – the ability to set the status of content as “ready for translation”
  13. Security and Permissions
  14. Provide languages packs for static content
  15. Has an easy way to Export / Import content
  16. Maintain content integrity between languages (trace / compare features to review difference between different languages)
2.     Content Authoring Features
  1. Manage translation workflows for each language
  2. Versioning
  3. Content Properties – the ability to set the status of content as “ready for translation”
  4. Security and Permissions
  5. Provide languages packs for static content
  6. Has an easy way to Export / Import content
  7. Maintain content integrity between languages( trace / compare features to review difference between different languages)
3.     Development Features

In order to centralize design while allowing local teams the capability to manage some elements of layout and functionality, the CMS you select should be equipped with the following development tools:

  1. The ability to create new pages from within the CMS by selecting from any number of standardized templates created by your development team.
  2. These templates should be developed with sections that are non-editable for local teams such as the headers, footers, and navigation structure but created with dynamic areas within the templates where local teams have the flexibility to add sections to the page such as promotions, special offers, latest news, photo gallery, top stories, blog feeds, etc.
  3. This gives you the ability to easily launch new pages while controlling the design and allowing local changes with no additional development.
  4. Automatic Language Selection- Your multilingual website should have the ability to automatically display the appropriate content based on the domain name and browser language settings for the visitor to your site.
  5. Robust API (Application Programming Interface) in order to easily develop custom modules.

B. Automated Translation Workflow

The task of managing a multilingual website and translation workflows can be a very time-consuming process. The multilingual CMS you select is critical to the success of launching and maintaining a multilingual website. Many CMS solutions are equipped with automated workflows that allow CMS users and admins to package together content to be sent for localization into multiple languages.

My translation company GPI can help you streamline this process by developing connectors to your multilingual CMS which allow content authors to:

  • Select the desired pieces of content to be exported for translation
  • Select the target languages
  • Manage translation packages and quotes request from your CMS interface
  • Send files for translation
  • Import localized content into the multilingual CMS

Automating your translation workflow will help you save significant time when launching new sections of your site as well as managing updates or doing a complete content refresh.

C. Pseudo-Localization for Testing

A Pseudo-Localization feature is useful especially during the testing stages to validate what your content would look like in a particular language. You can test page(s) for localization issues such as:

  • Text expansion for European languages such as German, Russian or Spanish
  • The rendering of Right to Left (RTL) or Bi-directional languages such as Arabic or Hebrew
  • Text shrinking and lack of spaces for Eastern-Asian Character Sets

D. Setting Fallback Locales

A fallback locale is the language in which content is displayed if it is not available in the language selected by the user. CMS administrators should have the ability to:

  • Define which fallback language is displayed if the language selected by the user is not available.
  • Default to the source language if the language selected by the user is not available.
  • Or set the fallback locale to none in which case, nothing is rendered to the user.

E. CMS Licenses

Each CMS has a license type (free, trial, paid). Also, a CMS could have different versions such as personal, professional, enterprise, etc… Clients should decide carefully what are the best CMS / licenses for their businesses. The below link provides a table for the common CMS used in market along with related details: