A lot has changed in the world of website design since we first published our white paper entitled “Tips on Designing Multilingual Websites.” For one thing, back then the jobs we were getting were still mostly collections of individual HTML pages and everyone was designing for desktop computers. Today almost all websites are built on a content management system like WordPress or Drupal, often adding functionality through a variety of “plug-ins” or “extensions.” Moreover, everyone has to take into account the large and growing number of people viewing webpages on mobile devices, especially smartphones. RWD (responsive web design) is quickly becoming the default design model.
But it’s not only the design environment that has changed. The international growth of web usage, and of web usage in different languages, has continued to explode. The earlier white paper contained this statistic from Internet World Stats:
Between 2000 and 2008, web usage in English grew by a little over 200%, but other languages saw much higher rates of growth: French over 400%; Spanish over 600%, Chinese over 800%, and Russian and Arabic over 1000%.
The statistics quoted in our new paper are even more startling:
Between 2000 and 2013, web usage in English grew by about 470%, but other languages saw much higher rates of growth: Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Malay have all seen growth rates of 1,000-3,000%; Arabic use has increased by well over 5,000%.
English users now make up less than a third of all web users globally.
In other words, it is more likely than ever that a website will be translated at some point and it is more important than ever to design websites that are translation ready.
We’ve already dealt with some of the changes in the web design environment in previous blog articles (see below), and it was clearly time to totally redo our white paper. The new paper, “Designing Translation Ready Websites,” discusses the choice of a platform, different ways to set up site administration, and options for domain organization, along with tips on the actual graphic design of the site.
If you’re involved in web design and development, make sure that you’re prepared to design for multilingual content.