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Codal guest post

The UX Principles in a Multilingual Website Design

As businesses and products become more of a global opportunity, the digital presence of these websites and mobile applications need to reflect the international users.

User expectations are continually increasing, thus the number of ways they can become easily frustrated and put off by a site increases. Whether that it is due to poor design or development, utilizing a user experience design service is a great way to shed light on the UX problems of a site.

One of the main UX problems on websites with a global audience is one that does not have international typography. If a user comes to a site and there is not an option to put in a language, it often results in an immediate bounce.

Although the language barrier is just the start of the potential problems. In order to have a site that can effectively reach users of different national backgrounds, following these UX principles is critical.


Design a Universal Navigation System

In efforts to tackle the first issue, changing the language of a site, the user needs to be able to easily find the place to change the language; that place is called the global gateway.

The global gateway directs the user to a specific localized version of the website. Especially since the initial language is not one the user is familiar with, the user needs to be directed in a way that does not require any written commands.

The best practice in designing a navigational system is placing the search on either the very top of the page or the footer; these are the two most common places users look for information, capabilities, and menu items.

The example below is from AirBnb’s website. They clearly indicate on the left side of the footer, that the use can change the language.

AirBnb example 1


If your site does not have the option to change the language on a site, then the first step would be implementing that capability. For example, an easy way to do this is utilizing a Shopify Translation service.


Magnify the Global Messaging

Besides ensuring the user has accessibility to the content of the site, the most important element is developing consistency among all the multilingual websites.

Every user, regardless of which international site the user is on, should have the same smooth and intuitive user experience (UX). Since establishing UX is an intricate process, hiring a UX design agency to ensure seamless results is often the most effective route.

Keeping with the AirBnb example, they do an excellent job keeping to their brand, regardless of the language of the site. Below, this is illustrated by comparing their English site with the Turkish site


AirBnb example Turkish vs. English 1AirBnb example Turkish vs. English 2



Use Global Templates with Room for Localization

After you establish a consistent branding of all the sites, incorporating elements of localization to the site can pose to be extremely effective in encouraging engagement and exploration throughout the site.

Besides just changing the text language, other ways to localize the site in providing content, such as images and offerings that are specific to that region.

For example, one way to improve AirBnb’s site in the above example, is incorporating music experiences that are located near the region of those speaking a specific language. Keeping in mind this is a travel website, incorporating musical offerings of the Turkish culture may increase the engagement with the user.


Web Font Compatibility

Since different words in different languages have vastly different lengths, keeping in mind space issue should be a constant question when designing a web page.

For instance, “Add to Cart” is eleven characters in English, but in Dutch, it is twenty five characters, taking up twice as much space. To keep with consistency, having to change the font size is a must, because without the modification the entire layout needs to be redesigned.


Designing a global website is not the easiest change to make on a website. Many factors need to be taken into account besides just changing the website’s language.

The first step in designing a site to be multilingual is utilizing a service like, Shopify Multilingual service like Weglot, to create that capability for the site.

The next step is to make sure you have a UX design company and a human translator to ensure that every page is visually appealing and the usability is still up to par after utilizing a multilingual service

About the author
Tory Darling

Tory Darling, Creative Strategist at Codal.


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