In Belgium, we have 3 official languages (Dutch, French, and German) but the number of languages spoken is much higher. English is spoken by a large part of the population, and most other European languages also very common, especially in Brussels. Which means that when you are setting up your presence on the web, you need to consider this reality and decide which languages you will translate your site into.
A multilingual site means that the software used to support the site needs to support multiple languages. And that is not always very evident, especially if you use a CMS solution such as WordPress. WordPress makes extensive use of plugins, and in a multilingual environment, all these plugins must support multiple languages as well, which means you need to choose your plugins wisely.
The content needs to be created in all the selected languages as well. If you run a site that has a lot of content, and especially if you have a very active blog, be aware of the additional effort of translating everything.
Do you need multiple languages?
There are, for now, no legal obligations that force you to translate your business website. The decision comes down to knowing who your potential customers are. If your business is poised to attract a very diverse audience, then you will certainly benefit from offering more than one language. It has much to do where your business is located and the nature of your business. If you are offering services in an area that has many expats, then consider translating your site at least into English next to your native language. In Brussels, with the presence of the European Institutions, you almost certainly going to benefit from translating your website in at least English next to Dutch and French.
The costs of creating a multilingual website are completely dependent on the amount of content that needs to be translated, and the number of languages you want to translate your content in. It’s important not to underestimate the effort required here.
Don’t expect to get away with automated translations such as Google Translate, as a bad or unnatural translation will not engage your users. So if you aren’t fluent in all the languages you want to translate your site into, be sure to foresee a budget to pay translators.
The important thing is to measure the impact. Make sure that once your site is live, you keep an eye on the traffic of your different pages, and the conversion of visitors through your online forms and calls to action. Understand how your different languages are performing from a lead generation point of view, and be prepared to adapt and correct if that performance is not what you expect.
Translating your website can be challenging from a technical and costs point of view, but it can also bring potential customers to your website that would otherwise click away. If you are about to create a multilingual website and need help, be sure to get in touch to see if we can work together.