How to Choose a CMS for your Multilingual Website
Expanding your website into more than one
language is a big undertaking — but the
rewards can be big, too. Very often, taking your site global is the driver
behind the decision to implement a content management system or re-evaluate the
one you already have. You’re in the power seat, the position of “hiring” the
very best multilingual content management system (CMS) for your particular
business needs and global expansion. So may the best candidate step forward!
As you sift through the sky-high pile of
resumes and begin the CMS “interview” process, here are a few initial questions
- Does the CMS have the baseline
Unicode support to work smoothly with other languages? The accents and umlauts,
the non-Roman scripts of Asian and Arabic languages, left-to-right languages,
and international-friendly forms?
- Can the CMS easily manage different
date, time, calendar, number, and currency conventions?
- How will the CMS handle the
stored data in your current site as it is translated?
When recruiting the right CMS for your
multilingual website, you’ll want to narrow your search to systems that were
developed with localization in mind. The beauty of a localization-ready CMS is
that managing edits and updates across languages becomes scalable, even for a
small web or marketing team.
A good multilingual CMS should have the following qualifications:
Site architecture for global markets and
languages. You’ll need to be able to easily generate country sites and
designate which sections and pages will be translated globally, regionally or
Translation workflow. You’ll want be
able to initiate the translation process for new and updated content on-demand,
as well as in scheduled batches.
Easy import/export of text as XML or
other standard formats. This functionality will make for a smoother
exchange of translatable content with your language partner and facilitate
updates for your project management team.
Full Unicode support. You’ll want to make sure that any language
can be displayed, edited, and manipulated easily in your CMS environment and
can support all characters from all languages, including Japanese, Arabic and
to handle content originally written in another language. That is, material
appearing on your foreign language sites that doesn’t have an equivalent on the
original English site. Examples might be a Contact Us section or press release
material specific to the target locale.
Support for media management. Your
CMS should allow for separate, localized media galleries.
Automatic push and pull of content to
and from a drop location (i.e., an FTP site or your translation partner’s
localization portal). This can save your resources a lot of time, and depending
on the portal, can virtually eliminate the need for manual handoffs to
In your quest for the right
localization-friendly CMS with these skillsets, there are both open-source and
proprietary candidates worth considering.
If you think open source solutions may fit
the job description, you’ll find very effective platforms in WordPress, Drupal
and Joomla, to name just a few. All three of these options use PHP programming
language and are considered user-friendly for web developers and end users
alike. In addition, the add-ons and features developed by the community for
these systems are extensive. Joomla, for example, supports over 65 languages
and comes with more than 6,000 extensions. WordPress is especially good for
multilingual blog management, while Drupal is touted as the CMS for managing large-scale
multilingual sites. Here is a comparison of some key features across the three
*Data from cmsmatrix.org
Some of the more popular “closed source” solutions for managing multilingual website content include SharePoint, Ektron, EMC Documentum, DotNetNuke Professional Edition, OpenText Web Site Management (formerly RedDot), and Sitecore Professional Edition.
The caveat with these commercial candidates, however, is their cost. The majority of them will take you into the five-digit price range, easily, depending on your business requirements.
The ideal system for your needs, whether open-source or proprietary, will ultimately depend on your company’s IT infrastructure, development resources, software culture and budget.
So as you wade through the options and deliberate
over the right global-ready CMS for your multilingual website(s), choose an experienced
language vendor to partner with you throughout the process. If you’re ready,
Acclaro is here to answer your questions. We’ll help you make the most of
whatever candidate you hire for the job – and expertly localize your site for
any language market in the world.
Check out our top 10 website translation
tips and other key resources as you take the leap into new global markets.