Many Languages, Many Devices, One Design

Category: Global Design, Marketing Translation

Responsive website design (RWD) signals the end of an era: the age of designing device-specific websites for desktop, tablet and mobile is over. Now you can build one site and have it work across multiple devices.

RWD simplifies content management, improves search rankings and simplifies analytics, all great reasons to make the switch. If you’re concerned about the multilingual needs of your global audience, don’t worry. As discussed in our recent newsletter article, here are ways to make the multilingual responsive web design process a little easier.

Know Your Audience

To start, you need a clear picture of the audience you’re designing for: what are the user preferences and needs for all your target markets? Devices and browsers that aren’t popular in one market might be the preferred modes in another. Knowing user preferences not only will help you understand the scope of the project but also help you decide if one site for all markets even makes sense. 

Experience Counts

Make sure your design/development team is expert in both responsive and multilingual design. If your team doesn’t have multicultural expertise in-house, work in parallel with your translation agency. Including translation and localization right from the beginning can help speed the development process and prevent giant obstacles further down the road.

Go from Small to Big

A basic tenet of responsive web design is progressive enhancement: designing for smaller mobile screens first and then gradually scaling up to larger screen sizes. This holds true for multilingual sites, but make sure the mobile design works in all your target languages before you start scaling up with more content and functionality for bigger screens. There’s no point in scaling before you know your mobile version can be translated and localized. Finding out later means you might have to go back to the beginning.

Leave the Easiest Languages for Last

Translating and localizing double-byte languages like Chinese and bidirectional ones like Arabic and Hebrew is significantly more challenging than for other languages. If you get those out of the way first, then you’ll get all the kinks out before you’re too far into the process.

Creating a responsive website design that speaks to many users in many languages definitely adds complexity to the process. Working with a translation agency from the beginning can you save time, money and trouble. For more tips on RWD, check out our full newsletter article.