Today we have many options in Web Content Management Systems (CMS) that can support multilingual website requirements. While many systems available today have good multilingual support, be sure to ask the proper questions to so that you implement a CMS that will meet your specific needs. In this blog I wish to address a few items you may wish to consider when shopping for a CMS to support your multilingual needs.
1. “Multi” is not always the same as “Multiple”:
Some Content Management Systems provide multilingual support, but not multiple language support.
A CMS may allow you to support English, Japanese, German, French or even bi-directional languages such as Arabic. But if you need the system to support more than one language at a time you need to verify the system provides multilingual support and will support multiple languages at the same time. The difference between ‘or’ and ‘and’ may allow you to avoid a very painful experience after you have made the purchase.
It is not uncommon for some CMS companies who do not provide both multilingual and multiple language support in your product to be forthcoming with this information unless directly asked.
2. Creation of Country sites:
Often understanding the steps to implement country sites within a CMS is an afterthought for buyers when reviewing which CMS is right for them. For some systems it is very easy to set up the country sites, while for other systems it is not very simple as the software company may not be as supportive for the multilingual needs of their clients. The companies today who do have a good and simple method to set up the country sites likely did not have as easy a set up just a few years ago. Due to good client feedback with a global site perspective , several of these systems have been updated to where today they do provide a simple set up process.
Many web development companies are quite familiar with at least one and often 2 or 3 content management systems, but as is often the case they may not be involved with multi-language site development. As such, they may not be familiar with the steps needed to implement the country sites in a CMS they otherwise are experts in implementing for their clients.
3. Consider the overall downstream workflow needs:
The decision on which CMS to purchase often comes from recommendations of the team that will perform the development of the website. It would be wise to also involve the other stakeholders downstream that include the content contributors and also your translation agency. Be sure that the CMS provides a successful, and hopefully easy, workflow for all of their expected needs and not just for the initial build of the site and that it can handle language requirements. The CMS developers often put extra focus on the ease to build a site as their key decision maker is often the development team. But others are going to need to use the CMS daily and should consider which CMS provides them the best user experience to support their daily needs to update the site. This is where the multi-lingual capabilities either shine through to show how efficient the CMS is for updating global websites and allowing for customization of sites for each country, or it may show that a particular CMS will be a burden for your downstream stakeholders to use efficiently for their daily needs.