How Do You Build a Multi-Language Website with 3 Tools

how to build a multi-language websiteLet’s face it, even though English is a popular international language, there are over 6,900 other languages around the world.

According to Wikipedia, Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, followed by Spanish, then English, Hindi, Arabic, etc. While English is popular, there are loads of other popular languages being spoken and written on a daily basis.

So why the heck don’t website builders offer an easy and functional way of allowing you to create multi-language websites?

I have no idea either.

Okay, I get it. Website builders won’t do the tough translation work for you, which is fair enough. But wouldn’t it be awesome if they built in some language switching mechanism that allows your visitors to switch to another language?

While their solutions to this problem may not be perfect yet, I’m going to take a look at what you can do with some of our favorite website builders (Wix, Squarespace and Weebly) to create a multilingual website.

1

Building A Multilingual Website: What To Avoid

Google Translate – Not THAT Cool

A lot of people will tell you to embed the free Google translate widget into your website. Your visitors just have to click on the widget button and all your content will be auto-magically translated into another language of your visitors’ choice.

Sure it’s a pretty quick way of building a bilingual website, but you are completely subject to how Google chooses to translate your text.

multilanguage website google translate plugin
The Google Translate widget enables you to change languages easily, but doesn't necessarily give the best results.

It’s probably the easiest solution to implement, and yes as “smart” as Google is, its translation tool is never perfect and is borderline unprofessional if you have a business website.

It’s helpful in a way that your visitors will get the general idea of what you’re trying to say. But, if you want to impress your visitors, win new businesses, and sound professional, then Google Translate is probably not the best option for you.

You can never beat translating languages “by hand” so to speak.

Too Many Duplicate Pages On Your Menu Bar

So even if you’re willing to manually translate the text on your website, how are you going to create a website where the menu bar doesn’t show multiple pages of the same thing, but in different languages?

The last thing you want to see is a menu bar with 3 home pages in 3 different languages. 3 versions of every single page will overload your menu bar, and really diminish the user experience of your visitors.

This is definitely something to avoid, but what can you do instead? Keep reading to find out!

2

So What Can You Do?

We’ve looked around our favorite website builders and couldn’t find any groundbreaking solutions (which made us really sad…)

However, we did find some tutorials to help you create a multilingual site. They’re not the best solutions in the world (I think you can only do that with a custom site – but you probably wouldn’t be interested in this article if you’re a hardcore coder anyway), but they are functional.

We’ll show you some interesting and handy approaches to building bilingual websites, with 3 of what we think are some of the best website builders in the industry today – Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.

If you’re not familiar with these website builders, have a quick look at our comparison table to check out their features:

Best All-Around Website Builder

4.8 out of 5

Top Choice
Template Design

4.5 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

5 out of 5 stars

Features & Flexibility

4.5 out of 5 stars

Popularity

5 out of 5 stars

Pricing

5 out of 5 stars

Best Design Oriented Website Builder

4.6 out of 5

Template Design

5 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

4 out of 5 stars

Features & Flexibility

5 out of 5 stars

Popularity

4.5 out of 5 stars

Pricing

4.5 out of 5 stars

Easiest To Use Website Builder

4.4 out of 5

Template Design

4 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

5 out of 5 stars

Features & Flexibility

4.5 out of 5 stars

Popularity

4.5 out of 5 stars

Pricing

4.5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes the best solution to the language problem is a custom built website. If you’re not a coding wizard, it may be worth hiring a professional. Provided you have the budget, a custom build is one of the best ways to get your hands on a true multilingual site. We and our friends over at Expert Market have carefully selected a handful of developers who can save you the hassle.

Thinking of selling online in multiple languages? Have a look at our article on the Best Ecommerce Platforms.

3

Multi-Language Website with Wix

Wix is one of the best website builders available in the market today. They offer you a pure drag and drop user interface, so you can place content anywhere on your website, and you don’t need to know how to code at all.

If you haven’t seen Wix yet, one of the nice things about Wix is that they offer you templates that are already pre-populated with content. So you just have to pick a template and start editing the pre-populated content (text, images, slideshows, etc) to make them your own.

Wix Review – not familiar with Wix? See our full review of their pros and cons.

Wix has a free multiple language app, Language Menu, that gives you multiple language capability.

The App automatically redirects your visitors to the language based on their browser’s language. For instance, if your website offers content in English, French, and Spanish, your visitor will be automatically directed to your Spanish pages if the app detects that his browser is based in Spain.

how to build a multilanguage website on wix
Wix's Language Menu App will help you create a site suitable for visitors from all over the world.

In the past, Wix had two templates that already had multiple language functionality built in.

Now, thanks to the Language Menu App, all you have to do is add the app to any template and you get access to this capability – the infrastructure of switching between languages is already done for you by Wix.

multilingual website with wix language menu
The Wix Language Menu app takes one click to install and your site will magically have the ability to switch between languages.

Check out some of our favorite Wix templates that will work great with the Language Menu App:

Wix Language Menu gives you a choice of over 30 languages that you can redirect your international visitors to.

The app also has a simple step-by-step guide to creating a multilingual site, which makes it quite easy for you to get up and running very quickly.

4

Multi-Language Website with Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the better drag and drop website builders available in the market today. Their design templates are all mobile responsive and look gorgeous.

Squarespace Review – not familiar with them? See our full review of their pros and cons.

Squarespace’s Help Center is fantastic and they have a great tutorial that shows you how to build a website with multiple languages.

The tutorial recommends the Adirondack, Nueva (or any template in the Brine family) and Pacific (or any template in the Pacific family) templates as the best for creating a multi-language site.

multi-language website - squarespace
Squarespace's multi-language tutorial is really helpful in showing you the steps on how to create your multi-language website.

If you visit the tutorial and click on the website images there, you’ll also see some live multi-language sites in action.

5

Multi-Language Website with Weebly

Weebly is one of the easiest website builders to use.

But as easy as it is to use, they also don’t offer any native multi-language capabilities for you to use (boo….)

Weebly Review – not familiar with them? See our full review of their pros and cons.

However, they do offer you a multi-language app in their App Center, which makes it easy for your website visitors to change the language of your website without touching any codes.

Just install the app with 1 click and you don’t have to worry about anything more complicated than that. See this tutorial from Weebly.

Multi-Language website - weebly app
This app easily allows your visitors to browse your site in their native language.

The downside is that it’s not free (they do offer a 2-week free trial period though so you can try it out before you commit).

We dug around and found a free tutorial on how you can convert a standard Weebly website to a multi-language website.

Multi-Language website - weebly
Your users will be able to switch between languages easily when you use Weebly's language app.

Now it does require you to modify the codes of the template to make things work, but the author of this tutorial has generously laid out all the step by step instructions, as well as included all the codes for you to download and insert into your Weebly website.

The final product is pretty good as you can see in his demo site here.

6

How to Build a Multi-Language Website: Conclusion

There aren’t any fantastic solutions to this problem, but it is possible to build a multi-language site with the website builders in this guide.

We hoped that some of the larger drag & drop website builders would build in some native functions to help people create a better website with multiple languages.

For countries aside from those that use English as the primary language, this is a very important feature to have especially for business-related websites.

The solution with Weebly is a bit code intensive which may be a bit advanced for some users, but it’s one of the more interesting ones we’ve seen.

For now, the 3 “hacks” above are temporary solutions until the website builders create a native tool to make creating multilingual sites easier.

Let’s hope they will build in this feature sooner rather than later!

But in the meantime, these are adequate solutions to the problem, so why not try out a website builder to create your multilingual website:

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About Jeremy

Jeremy

Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you.

45 comments

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  • Avatar
    tranh dong
    Hi there everyone, it'ѕ mу fіrst pay a quick visit аt thіѕ web pɑge, and paragraph iѕ in fact fruitful for me, кeep up posting these types of posts.
  • Avatar
    Catherine Mesot
    Just a comment on WIX. Their multilingual option only works if you have a simple menu and not a drop-down one. So if you website is straight wich just a couple of main pages, it will work but no sub-pages.
  • Avatar
    Deeks
    Smoolis offers both multi-lingual and multi-currency native builder. I havent tested the platform yet but looks interesting. Any one have any comments on this? We just hope the other builders such as Weebly and Wix offer similar native solutions soon. Also, does anyone know if the weebly solution will also work for E-commerce products? -- Regards, Deeks.
    2 replies
    • Avatar
      Rolland
      Hey Deeks, Thank you so much for your information/tip. While in search for a multilingual website builder, I came across to your comment and I had the chance to take a look at Smoolis. It seems a pretty solid solution when it comes to building an online store or a website with multiple languages and currencies. Over the past few months, I've tried many different platforms and slowly figured out that they didn't work for me. Smoolis is a very advanced platform, and I was able to build a multilingual/multi-currency website without any additional programming. Although they miss some features that I'd love to see in the near future, such as the customer login and blog option, I can see that these advanced functions are already on their roadmap, so I'm happy to see that. As they clearly state on their website, so far it is built exclusively for small businesses, but I can see that the platform itself has a lot of potentials! And last but definitely not least, their support is EXCELLENT! Anyway, I am so happy to have discovered their service. Cheers Deeks :)
    • Tom Watts
      Tom Watts
      Hey Deeks, Thanks for the tip. I've reached out to Smoolis to ask how they have succeeded where companies like Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix and Weebly have fallen down! If I get a response, I'll post to this thread. Multi-lingual + multicurrency websites are definitely something that need addressing, that's for sure. Just so you know, Wix have addressed this in their help guides (more info here). It's a straightforward concept, but a bit time-consuming. Essentially you need to duplicate your site + translate each page, then create a new site menu out of buttons for both your default language and secondary language pages. Not ideal by any means - but a fix! The Weebly fix below is also a clever way of navigating around the issue, but as I mentioned previously, it is beyond the technical ability of many of our readers to do this (but not impossible if you take the time to understand CSS). I haven't tested out the Weebly fix myself, so I'd recommend trying it out if you have the time. Otherwise if anyone else can let us know then please get in touch! thanks for your comment, - Tom
      1 reply
      • Avatar
        Deeks
        Thanks Tom. I look forward to hearing your feedback from Smoolis. I intend to test Weebly and would post once I have an update on that. I would also like to know if you have any recommendations to make the website store show multi-currency? Again this is a challenge in many sites. Somehow Smoolis claims to have both multi-lingual and multi-currency pinned down! Your guidance would be much appreciated. :) Thanks. -- Regards, Deeks.
  • Avatar
    Greg
    This might not be the slickest way of doing it, but I have one dual-language subsite which I approached the following way: The single page contains the entire content, in both English and Chinese, with one stretch of text running after the other. The English content is marked as a specific class (, and so is the Chinese (). I then created two separate style sheets. The default style sheet is set to hide all "chinese" spans. The alternative style sheet is set to hide all "english" spans. There is a button to toggle between them. I also created an extremely simple cookie allowing the page to remember the visitor's choice, so that opening a new page does not revert to the default (that is, English). This could probably also be set for multiple languages.
    1 reply
    • Tom Watts
      Tom Watts
      Hi Greg, It certainly sounds like you've found an interesting approach to the problem of multi-language sites! However, I fear that it is a bit beyond the scope of our discussion here, as creating classes and editing your CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are not the easiest things to work with or quickly grasp if you're not too tech-savvy. Thanks for joining the discussion though + sharing your novel approach - it's great to hear such innovation! - Tom
      1 reply
      • Avatar
        Deeks
        Hi, It would be nice to get a bit more detail / guidance on how to implement Greg's solution. I'd also like to try out the cookie approach where we can remember user's preference. Thank you, -- Regards, Deeks.
        1 reply
        • Tom Watts
          Tom Watts
          Hello Deeks, As I mentioned below, Greg's solution is beyond the scope of of the conversation here and I wouldn't feel confident trying to explain his flash of ingenuity. I think he's given enough to go on though if you have a working knowledge of CSS. Likewise, configuring cookies is beyond my own scope of knowledge and may require a wider search online. sorry I couldn't be more help - Tom
  • Avatar
    Phil Richardson
    My search on Google for info on multi language websites allowed me to discover your website at an opportune moment as I am about to create a website in multi languages. By strange coincidence I am also about to register with Wix and as they have an Multi Language app it makes even more sense to do so. A year ago I used Weebly but they have limitations that I now know that Wix does not. Many thanks Jeremy.
    1 reply
    • Tom Watts
      Tom Watts
      Hello Phil, Thanks for your feedback, it's good to know our discussions have proven useful to you. Best of luck using Wix, it's a great platform that is extremely versatile. Thanks for reading - Tom
  • Avatar
    jihan dee
    Thank you!!!
  • Avatar
    Alex Marsh
    Translator tools has made the things easier for regular translations. It provide results in few minutes which cut down the unnecessary translation cost by human translators. These tools are really helpful. Thanks for sharing!!
    1 reply
    • Jeremy
      Jeremy
      Thanks for your comment, Alex!
  • Avatar
    Mark
    Just want to say thank you for that deeper dive into that painful topic. And by the way: Jimdo has not a solution ready besides building to sides or using the first navigation level which is not really state-of-the-art.
    1 reply
    • Jeremy
      Jeremy
      Hi Mark, Thanks for your comment and adding to this discussion! Jeremy
  • Avatar
    Kiki
    I have GoDaddy for 3 of my websites. And I've been trying to do a multilingual site for about 2 months. I keep failing. And have even spoken to GoDaddy several times for help. But it cannot be done. If I switch to another websitebuilding company, like Wix or Weebly, which is the better one for the multilingual site? And which has the most easiest transition from swapping all accounts from GoDaddy to the new one? Thanks for the advice.
    1 reply
    • Jeremy
      Jeremy
      Hello Kiki, I'd suggest signing up to both website builders to see which one you enjoy working with. Also test out their language conversion tools to see which one you prefer. Each has their own app so will work differently. Try translating a few paragraphs of text to see which one is technically more accurate. Jeremy
  • Avatar
    Harry Kasabian
    Google translate works "some of the time".....
    1 reply
    • Jeremy
      Jeremy
      "some of the time" indeed. Whenever I use Google Translate, I can understand what the foreign language is trying to say. But the translation is never perfect. At the end of the day, you can't beat a manual translation, but I suppose not everybody has the financial resources to pay for proper translations. Jeremy