Having spent some time working on multiple foreign-language web sites, I’d like explain a few things that I think differentiate multilingual CMS systems. And (being a bit biased) I will demonstrate each of the following advantages using Neptune Web’s CMS software, Neptune Web Edit and its accompanying “localization module”.
“Localization module “ is a technical name for the apparatus which enables you to add, edit and manage content on a multilingual web site. It is a great tool for turning your site from a single language site into an international web site.
Before I go into the details, I’d like to start with a basic assumption:
The process of Internationalization can mean a number of things to people. For certain types of sites, adding a Google “Translate” widget to every page on your site is sufficient. We love the computer translation provided by Google, but at times these translations can be, well, embarrassing. I’m assuming you aren’t interested in this type of internationalization effort, which although very rapid to implement, is not of high enough quality for most commercial applications. I’m assuming you are willing to pay translators to q/a these computer translations because the risk of having a word turn into another word is just too great.
Ok, so here are the features I’d like to emphasize as being very important when choosing a multilingual CMS system for your website.
- The CMS should “play well” with your web sites server-side language or web environment (Neptune Web Edit is PHP/MySQL or "LAMP" based).
- Ability to edit static content as static content. Ability to post ad-hoc multilingual content, such as a random PDF or web page, without being constrained by a monolithic system which expects all language sites to be the same.
- An understandable file and folder system, which makes referencing, web content simple.
- Ability to see when the lead language has changed, and the workflow to let the translators know.
- The ability to have computer based translation services assist translation, but not dictate the entire translation. Real human translators must be able to review and edit the computer assisted translations.
- The ability to define your choose language widget in whatever way you like. No restrictions on design.
- As much independence from the CMS as possible.
- For dynamic content, the ability to filter content according to logical, database based groups. I.e. 10 fields per record, with the fields grouped together by record. The ability to group translation strings into logical, meaningful groups.
- The ability to translate in WYSIWIG format.
- The ability to publish content for a single language only.
- Content should default to the “lead language” (typically English) if it has not been translated.
- Each multilingual site should appear like a separate site as much as possible. This will enhance your search engine ranking because you will appear to be 5 sites, for example, instead of one.
Now that you’ve read the list, let me demonstrate each of the features in the video below.