The possibilities are endless! Theoretically, your website can now reach customers all over the world. And in many cases, it actually makes sense to create a website in two or more languages.
If you already have visitors from different countries, a multilingual customer base, or want to reach an even wider audience, you can easily create a multilingual website with Jimdo—clear, easy to understand, and with a modern design!
In this article, we’ll show you how to create a multilingual website in just four steps and give you some tips about websites in multiple languages.
Advice on getting started
Websites with multiple languages are remarkable because they display different versions of the same content. It’s important to create a concise website so that your visitors can quickly find the information they’re looking for.
Here are some overall tips to make this easy for you:
1) The first navigation menu item is your language selection
The first thing your visitors do is select a language. The languages are the only subpages visible, e.g. “German” and “English”. All other subpages come in the second or third stage.
2) Plan content in all languages in advance
When we talk about multilingual websites, we actually mean websites which exist with the same pages and texts in parallel but in different languages.
Think about the structure of your navigation menu in advance so that everything runs smoothly! Recreating a website in multiple languages is more cumbersome than doing so right from the start.
3) Translation tools are an option, but perhaps not the best solution
There are online tools that automatically translate your content. If you integrate one of these tools into your website, visitors can change the language with just one click. However, the texts sound robotic and you lose the quality of your content.
Everything clear so far? Super! Keep reading to find out how to make your website multilingual.
Note: The images in this article show the Jimdo website builder. You can follow the same steps with Creator. All Creator designs that have a drop-down menu are compatible.
Create a multilingual website in four steps
1) Stage one: create the language selection
Create a subpage in the first stage of the navigation menu for each language you want to offer. Name each page after a language. Use your existing homepage for this and then delete all other subpages on the first level (don’t forget to save your content first!).
Once you’ve done that, the first level will only feature the subpages for the languages you want to offer on your website, for example, we can see “Deutsch,” “English,” and “Français” here:
You’ve already completed the most important step! When visiting your website, your customers can now see that you offer a variety of languages.
2) The content: create your content for the first language
This is the heart of your website: you can now add the subpages for your first language. Ideally, you’ll make a plan beforehand—a brief navigation menu with just a few subpages is generally recommended.
Next add all your information, pictures, buttons, and texts so that you’re ready to go public with your first language. Your navigation menu might look something like this:
The advantage of having created all the content in your first language is that you can now simply duplicate the subpages and use the completed structure for your other language(s). This leads us on to the next step.
3) Stage two: add the navigation menu in your additional languages
The next step is to expand your navigation menu for the additional languages. Simply duplicate the completed subpages from your first language and paste the copied subpages below so that they can be found in stage two after the language selection. Remember to translate the names of the subpages.
You can also add subpages manually without duplicating them. Duplicating them just saves you from having to recreate the structure on each subpage later on.
Once you’ve transferred the subpages from your first language to your second language, your navigation menu should look something like this:
Our tip: It’s best to repeat the same navigation menu structure for each language. Visitors can find it annoying if certain subpages are missing in one language.
4) Translate your content
The basic framework is now ready: the first stage is your language selection. The respective subpages can be found in the second stage.
Now start translating the content on your subpages. Think about:
- Buttons (CTAs)
- Alt text
As we said previously, we recommend translating as much of your content as possible. However, if certain parts aren’t relevant for a specific language, just delete them.
But what’s the best way to translate your texts? As we mentioned before, there are multiple online tools you can use to automatically translate your content, such as Google Translate and DeepL. As you’ve probably noticed though, machine translated texts rarely have the same impact. Putting your texts through a machine translation tool and then copying the results onto your website isn’t the best idea.
It must be said that these tools do have their uses. For example, for texts where the meaning of the content is more important than the perfect formulation. The results won’t be 100% accurate however, so make sure you get these checked by a translator or someone who has the language as their mother tongue.
For all other texts where the phrasing and tone is just as important as the content, a professional translator is the best solution. This is the only way to ensure that the translated texts sound natural and fluent to a first-language speaker. If you don’t know any professional translators for the languages you need, simply ask your online network for recommendations. Online job sites for freelance translators and agencies (e.g. ProZ.com) are also a good point of contact.
Our tip: We recommend getting someone who speaks the language to proofread your texts if you’re not very familiar with the language. It’s always hard to spot mistakes in your own texts, especially in languages you don’t speak fluently.
Once you’ve completed these four steps, you can pat yourself on the back—your website is now multilingual and you’re ready for international customers!
Examples of websites in multiple languages
Get inspired by multilingual websites created by other Jimdo users!
A beautiful example of a multilingual website is that of Radverleih Bregenz from Lake Constance. It offers content to its visitors in German and English and has implemented multilingualism exactly as described in these instructions.
The respective homepages are called “Home DE” and “Home EN,” which is easy to understand for both German- and English-speaking visitors. The navigation menu is then translated:
More tips for multilingual websites
SEO for multilingual websites
It used to be that a mix of languages on websites could quickly confuse search engines. Nowadays, Google is pretty good at identifying different languages on subpages and indexing them correctly.
In fact, having your website available in multiple languages is a great thing for SEO and increases your ranking on Google. This is because there are now more keywords present for search engines to pick up on in different languages.
Harness the potential: If you follow our SEO advice, your multilingual website will be able to rank really well. What’s most important is to find keywords for the different languages and apply them to the relevant subpages.
The multilingual store
The Jimdo store system currently only functions in one language. The store elements (product overview, buttons, etc.) and the visitor process (filling in contact information, checkout, etc.) can also only be displayed in one language.
You can create your shop in a language that can be understood by the majority of your customers, however. This depends on your customer base, but this might be English, for example. Alternatively, you can label your products, categories, etc. in two languages.
Multilingual website checklist
- The first menu navigation stage is language selection
- The second stage is identical for each language
- All subpages have the same structure (simply duplicate the pages!)
- All content has been translated
- Keywords have been implemented in each language
- A first-language speaker has proofread your translations
- The website has been published
As you can see, creating a multilingual website isn’t that much harder than creating any other site. The key is good planning—you can start looking forward to international customers now!