Multilingual Content Management

How to Choose a CMS for Your Multilingual Website

Category: Technology

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 drives the decision to implement a content management system (CMS) or re-evaluate the one you already have. You’re in the power seat of “hiring” the very best multilingual CMS for your business needs and global expansion. So may the best candidate step forward!

Here are a few initial questions to prepare for your CMS selection process:

  • Does it have the baseline Unicode support to work smoothly with other languages (including accents and umlauts, non-Roman scripts of Asian and Arabic languages, left-to-right languages, and international-friendly forms)?
  • Can it easily manage different date, time, calendar, number, and currency conventions?
  • How will it handle the stored data in your current site as it is translated?

When recruiting the right CMS for your multilingual website, 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. Easily generate country sites and designate which sections and pages will be translated globally, regionally or not at all.

* Translation workflow. 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. Create a smoother exchange of translatable content with your language partner and facilitate updates for your project management team.

* Full Unicode support. Make sure that any language can easily be displayed, edited, and manipulated in your CMS environment while supporting all characters from all languages (especially Japanese, Arabic, and Russian).

* Ability 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 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 you a lot of time, and depending on the portal, eliminate the need for manual handoffs to localization.

In your quest for the right localization-friendly CMS with these qualifications, there are both open-source and proprietary candidates worth considering.

Open Source

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 systems:

CMS Comparison
*Data from

Proprietary Software

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 is their cost. The majority will take you into the five-digit price range 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 deliberate over the right global-ready CMS for your multilingual websites, choose an experienced language vendor to partner with you throughout the process. Acclaro is ready to 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.