Chances are, if you’ve stumbled across this article, you’ve already understood that making a multilingual website can be a real hassle—no matter what kind of site it is.
This is the problem that Weglot was founded to solve.
It’s almost Friday, we’ve had a busy week, and so have our clients (well, we can imagine). That’s why we’re going to take a minute to spread some love for them (and you, too, if you’re reading this !)—by pointing out some sites that are doing multilingual really, really right.
What does “doing it right” entail for a multilingual website?
Obviously, criteria for what constitutes a well-designed, intuitive website vary from person to person: as with any creative endeavor, a website can’t be judged by only one factor. A lot of collective brain-power goes into churning out a functional, beautiful website—and even with the best set of tools, it takes tact to make a multilingual website work as smoothly for your foreign-language visitors as for your native-language ones.
It also takes an extra layer of thought to decide what languages you should translate your site into. The answer isn’t always obvious: we’ll be looking at a few Weglot-translated sites whose language choices reflect the geographical diversity of their users.
So what makes a multilingual site really stand out? The possible answers to this question are technically limitless, since designers and developers are constantly coming up with new tools to adapt layout, media, and other factors of site interfaces that might be at risk of being obscured in translation. Here’s a sample of some criteria—and some winning websites that meet them with flying colors—for great multilingual site design and functionality.
Five Stars ★★★★★ for…using Weglot with the subdomain integration: Duet Display
In a way, Duet Display is also a translation app—only it doesn’t translate languages: it translates screens. Developed by ex-Apple engineers, it’s a way to sync up your tablet, phone, and computer screens seamlessly, so whatever you’re looking at one one shows up automatically on the others with zero lag time.
And seeing as the team behind Duet Display is about as tech-savvy as it gets, they’ve clearly understood the value of both building a clean, responsive site and translating it for their potential clients—especially since they’re selling a digital product, which will certainly have customers and users all over the world.
★★★★★ for…knowing their multilingual website market: Sachy’s Closet
Sachy’s Closet is a Miami-based thrift shop that is doing the e-commerce game right.
The thrift shop business model may not seem particularly adapted to e-commerce: for one thing, there’s basically never more than 1 of each item for sale in stock—and inventories tend to be more or less ad-libbed, since turnover happens quickly with constant donations and resales.
But the development of in-store inventory-tracking technologies for thrift stores, as well as large marketplace platforms adapted to their particular business model, has started to bring them into the digital sphere. ThredUP, a leading online marketplace for secondhand clothes (from both independent sellers & stores), recently published a report on the uptick in the online secondhand clothing market.
Not only has Sachy’s Closet invested in making their website accessible to their entire market base by translating their site, but they’ve done an admirable job of ensuring that every element is translated—right down to the temporary discount-code CTA at the top of the page (Weglot makes that easy, since it inherently translates all text elements—temporary ones included).
The fact that their site is so integrally translated means that Sachy’s Closet is positioned to shine on the Miami market: with upwards of 60% of its population speaking Spanish and English at home, some say that being able to communicate in Spanish is “almost expected” in this truly bilingual city.
★★★★★ for…being in touch with the times: Pykôre★
There’s no question that the Amazon Rainforest is a big question in the sustainability sphere these days.
Pykôre, a Brazil-based not-for-profit, takes a holistic, human approach to this question: their work revolves around indigenous communities of the Amazon region, connecting people with the resources they need to pursue sustainable lifestyles that enrich the surrounding forest—and combat the destruction that threatens it.
A noble cause can become effective reality, too, when it’s accessible to as many potential contributors as possible. Pykôre has ensured this accessibility by using Weglot to translate their site into Portuguese, the official language of Brazil; by localizing their content, they’re able to more efficiently spread the word about their work and spark interest on the ground in South America.
★★★★★ for…translating techy terms: PowerDot
It’s not surprising that a medical tech product’s website contains a good deal of field-specific jargon: from “biphasic waveform” (describing the shape of the PowerDot 2.0) to “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation” (which is what the PowerDot actually does), there are a lot of polysyllables in PowerDot’s product details and explanatory text that could get even a native speaker feeling mixed up at first read.
Fortunately, the entire purpose of having such a website is to make these terms legible to potential buyers, so they know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. PowerDot has made sure its European customers will be privy to this explanation, regardless of what language they speak natively, by translating its EU site into no fewer than 5 total languages: from English, to French, Italian, Spanish, and German.
★★★★★ for…loving multilingual ecommerce as much as we do (and having an A+ site design): Gavagai.io
What can we say? We love a good homepage design (have you seen ours, lately? 🧐), and it’s safe to say we love it even more when it’s for a company whose mission contains parallels to our own.
Gavagai is at the forefront of multilingual text analytics, which makes marketing insight-gathering a whole lot easier for international businesses whose customers may interact online in multiple languages.
A multilingual plugin being used by a multilingual service is about as access-friendly as it gets, which is why Gavagai definitely makes it onto our list.
What’s in a winning website?
So, what do these five sites have in common that sets them apart? How are they mastering multilingualism?
- A mission with multicultural—and even global—appeal: While Sachy’s Closet may be more focused on taking over the Miami market while PowerDot is conquering Europe; Gavagai is onto Scandinavia and North America, while Pykôre is more Latin America-facing and Duet Display is set for global expansion; all of these businesses and organizations are trying to sell a product or spread a message to people from different regions and/or cultural backgrounds.
Making their sites multilingual is a vital step to doing so.
- A concrete understanding of their market: We just went over roughly what regional market each winning site on this list is aiming to capture, and each one has specifically chosen their translation languages to match those spoken by the population of their market territory.
- An intuitive site design: The sites featured here are built on several different platforms—WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, and Webflow—and all manage to achieve a UX design and overall style that look good in translation.