Multi-language websites

Earlier this year we completed a new website for our client is one of the leading sports translation companies in the world, providing translation services to the sports industry, with clients such as FIFA, UEFA, the NBA, The US Open, Tour De France and many more.

Problue Solutions are delighted to work with such a prestigious company and to deliver a new website for Due to the size and reputation of some of their clients and the importance of projecting the right image, the requirements for this website were very demanding with a discerning and meticulous approach applied to every detail.

One of the core specifications of the website is multi-lingual with translations in French, German, Italian and Spanish. Due to the services provided, it was critical that had the ability to accurately translate every aspect of the website into multiple languages to serve their many clients around the world.

You may be aware of services like Google translate, where any website can be translated ‘on the fly’, and you may wonder why all the fuss with website translations if it’s that easy?

Well as our client would tell you, Google translate gets things wrong a lot the time. In fact, their business would not exist if software could accurately and reliably translate between different languages.

Algorithms and artificial intelligence like Google translate cannot understand the different contexts in which words and phrases are used in different languages, and therefore cannot properly translate between them. When you paste a block of text into Google translate and click the translate button, what you get back is really just a translation of the key words, a general ‘gist’ of what the original passage of text is saying.

That’s fine if you just need a rough idea of what is being said, but if you have a website that will be visited by people who speak different languages then that kind of vague translation isn’t good enough. The text needs to be accurate and make sense in the user’s native language.

This means that pre-translated text is absolutely essential for a genuinely multi-lingual website, it’s one of the areas where you might expect automation and artificial intelligence to have taken over, but is still firmly in the domain of the human translator.

So how does a website serve up pre-translated text for different languages?

We built using Drupal which is exceptionally strong in multi-lingual features, much more so than platforms like WordPress or Joomla etc. Drupal has many out of the box features which help to provide a multi-lingual website.

Each piece of content on a Drupal website can be configured to be multi-lingual, meaning there are different versions of it for each language. A site editor or administrator can easily add a translation for any language which is activated on the site.

Other areas of a website like blocks and sections can have different language versions also, and even certain strings of text that appear anywhere on the site can be translated.

One of the big differences in Drupal and other platforms is the depth of customisation. During the development of it was made clear to us that if a website visitor chooses their native language, then they should see every single word in their language with no exceptions.

This is a perfect example of where things like WordPress can get almost there, but only Drupal can completely satisfy the requirement. With platforms like WordPress there will always be some piece of text somewhere that can’t be translated.

For items like slideshows, we were able to duplicate these and provide different versions based on language, and display each one based on the context of the chosen language.  In the same way we were able to just swap out different button texts and paragraphs of text based on the language context.

Language switching and context

So, you have all these lovely pre-translated pieces of text in different languages, how does your website decide which language to show?

There are various options on how your website determines the language it should be displayed in:

  • Language switcher widget

Options are displayed for each language and the user clicks on what they want (usually these have little flag icons)

  • URL based

The language is based on the web address, e.g.,, or is French.

  • IP/Location based

The language is automatically selected based on the location of the user visiting the website.

Using Drupal, we can build websites using any of these language context choices.

So, this is a very brief overview of how we built multi-lingual features into the website, and an example of how we can provide multi-language features for your website.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, get in touch.

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