How to Effectively Manage Content in Multiple Languages?

At first glance, running a website in multiple languages may seem like a daunting task, especially without knowing the languages in which the content is to be published. However, there are tools that can significantly simplify the management of multilingual content, making the process more automated and efficient. What are the best practices that make this seemingly impossible task manageable? The answer is provided in this article.

Sitecore and multilingual versions of websites

Sitecore Experience Manager is an advanced CMS (Content Management System) platform that allows easy creation and management of websites in multiple language versions. This platform enables the addition of a site or single element in several languages, allowing for easy switching between them. One of its key advantages is that editing one language version does not affect the other versions.

Domain management

Each domain is based on its own language and can be associated with a specific language, which means that different language versions can be managed for different markets. For example, when managing Canadian, British, and American domains, there are three versions of English to choose from. Despite the same language, the sites can be unique for each domain — content available only for the Canadian version will not be visible on the British or American versions. This allows tailoring the content to the specific needs and expectations of users in different regions.

There is often a need to add the same content to both the international site and its local language versions. In such cases, the content can be added to the main version of the site and then copied to the other versions. It is crucial to check the functionality of links, which may lead to sites existing only in one language version – this is because copying content “one-to-one” also copies internal link paths.

Enable Item Fallback feature

There are situations where local sites contain content in English, the main language of the site. This happens when a client needs to have a site available on non-English domains that has not yet been translated into other languages. In this case, you can use Sitecore XM’s Enable Item Fallback option, which allows content from the main language version to be displayed on sites in other languages. Using this feature ensures that any changes on the main site will automatically be visible on the sites using this option, facilitating the management of untranslated content.

Translation process

Sitecore Experience Manager offers a plugin that allows content to be sent to translation companies in selected languages. Before sending the site for translation, it is important to ensure that no one is working on it and that all components, such as headers, texts, and quotes, are included.

The plugin also allows you to preview previously sent projects. Each translation has its unique ID number, allowing for tracking, and authorised persons can approve it. The site sent for translation will be marked in the program, for example, with an orange square next to its name. Hovering the mouse over this icon will display information about sending the site for translation into specific languages.

After the translated site returns, it must be accepted on the CMS platform and published – then it will appear in the production environment. It is also a good practice to check the functionality of links, as mentioned earlier in the article.

Translating navigation and footer

An important aspect not to be overlooked is the translation of navigation and footer. Navigation and footer do not automatically add when adding a site, so they require translation as separate elements. Remembering them is essential because they are crucial for the consistency of the site’s appearance and for ensuring user-friendly access for users from a given country.

Manual translations

Typically, editors do not translate sites, but there are situations where a client requests the creation of a site in English and then provides the ready translation. In such cases, the content is manually entered by creating new versions of sites and elements, which are then published.

Friendly URL names

When managing multilingual content, it’s essential to be particularly sensitive to friendly URL names, meaning those that do not contain special characters. In languages that use special characters, it is necessary to set a display name, based on which the site address is created. The display name should be in the language of the site – this way, the link will be readable and friendly for users from that country. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, for example, in languages like Japanese or Korean, where the URL often has to be created in English.

It is best to navigate the CMS platform with English set as the default language. This is because in the Sitecore Experience Manager, each site has its name, which can be displayed in different languages. After adding a display name to the site in the CMS, this name will appear in the Sitecore XM menu instead of the original English name. This means that site names in the menu can be displayed in various languages, which can be confusing for users accustomed to the English names. Therefore, it is recommended to navigate the CMS with English set as the default language to avoid potential confusion and ease navigation.

Summary

Effective multilingual content management requires a well-thought-out strategy and the right tools — for example, the Sitecore XM platform, which offers advanced features that significantly facilitate this process. The key to success is regularly checking links, ensuring friendly URL names, and thoroughly translating all elements of the site. This ensures consistency and high-quality content, leading to better user experiences worldwide.

If you want to know more about Sitecore’s capabilities or need an implementation partner, contact us via the form below. As an experienced and certified Sitecore Partner, we can provide you with tailored solutions that enhance your digital experience.

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