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

Last updated on May 21, 2018

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
Top Choice

4.8 out of 5

Template Design

-0.5 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

0 out of 5 stars

Features & Flexibility

-0.5 out of 5 stars

Popularity

0 out of 5 stars

Pricing

0 out of 5 stars

Best Design Oriented Website Builder

4.6 out of 5

Template Design

0 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

-1 out of 5 stars

Features & Flexibility

0 out of 5 stars

Popularity

-0.5 out of 5 stars

Pricing

-0.5 out of 5 stars

Easiest To Use Website Builder

4.4 out of 5

Template Design

-1 out of 5 stars

Ease of Use

0 out of 5 stars

Features & Flexibility

-0.5 out of 5 stars

Popularity

-0.5 out of 5 stars

Pricing

-0.5 out of 5 stars

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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Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

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.

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Jeremy Wong

About Jeremy Wong

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.

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

  1. #

    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.

  2. #

    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.

    • 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

      • #

        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.

    • #

      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 🙂

  3. #

    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.

    • 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

      • #

        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.

        • 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

  4. #

    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.

    • 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

  5. #

    Thank you!!!

  6. #

    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!!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Thanks for your comment, Alex!

  7. #

    nice tips

  8. #

    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.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment and adding to this discussion!

      Jeremy

  9. #

    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.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      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

  10. #

    Google translate works “some of the time”…..

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      “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

  11. #

    Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks for a very good article. But I noticed that Wix hosted website are blocked by Chinese Great Firewall. I just wonder if you know any other good web page embeded or plug-in can translate English to Chinese fluently?

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Mason,

      Take a look at Squarespace (which we highlighted above).

      I was just informed that Weebly actually has a translation app. Take a look at their App Center and you can find the “LocalizeInternet” or “Multilanguage” app.

      If you haven’t heard of Weebly, take a look at our discussion here. They’re probably the most user friendly drag and drop website builder in the market right now.

      I will add these to our discussion above sometime soon!

      Jeremy

  12. #

    Hi Jeremy,
    As a addition to my earlier mail: Is there a bilangual solution for Shopify available?

    Frank

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Frank,

      Yes I’ve seen a few themes that provide multiple language capability. Try searching for “bilingual shopify” or something along that line and you’ll see a few options.

      Jeremy

      • #

        Thanks for the info <3

  13. #

    Hi Jeremy, I am a Dutch entrepeneur, moving to Thailand soon. As i want to start a webshop there, adressing Thai market. I need to find a way to manage in English and show in Thai. Translating is not an issue, because my partner is Thai. I am not a website developer/builder, so i need to rely on the weeblys, wixes etc.
    In weebly i tried to put extra pages… not a sustainable solution.
    Thanks for all the explanation, it seems that it is an issue for many.

    I have another question, i think it is an issue as well… Every country has their own legal reqs and restrictions. In many countries different payment gateways are used. I did alot of google-research, but i didn’t get any closer to the answer what gateways, what specifics are prefarable for Thailand. Could you give me a hint how to fix these problems?

    Thank you in advance !
    Frank

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hello Frank,

      I’m not entirely sure. But presumably PayPal will be compatible and available for use in the Thai market?

      Also check out Shopify, as they can connect to over 70 payment gateways – I’m sure you can find one that works with your specific market!

      Jeremy

  14. #

    Hi,
    I ran into the website builder problem two years ago. Specifically Spanish and English with Godaddy. I created a work around by creating two different menus and then copying on each page the corresponding English or Spanish menu. And I created a Spanish and English button that takes you to the corresponding home page. It is not the most elegant solution and I am sure the code is terrible but you got to do what you got to do. I really want to switch website builders because the Godaddy templates are soooo ugly but still trying to figure out if I will be able to do the same with another builder.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Jess,

      Creating a bilingual website is definitely a challenge especially if you aren’t good with coding. That’s why I’ve recommended using templates that are built with multiple language capabilities (such as the ones I’ve listed above).

      Template selections are a bit limited, but hopefully those designs will work well for you. Wix and Squarespace are both free (Squarespace has a 14 day trial period) so give them a test drive to see if they work out for you!

      Jeremy

  15. #

    Hi Jeremy. Thanks for the review. I totally agree with your hope that website builders have built-in multilingual capabilities.

    I tried to use the Wix templates that you mention: Accountant and Tokyo Design Agency. However, when I got only English content – I didn’t see the flags (in Tokyo) or the Eng/Esp buttons (in accountant). What should I do to get these flags/buttons?

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Erel,

      Have a look at this tutorial here from Wix. Hope you find it helpful!

      Jeremy

  16. #

    Hi Jeremy,

    Great and valuable write up, lots of good info here! Wanted to let you know about a new website translation/localization solution which really makes the whole localization process much easier.

    Take a look at https://www.bablic.com, you can choose from machine or human translation, manually edit text, images and CSS/style in order to make sure your website’s look and feel stays consistent throughout all of the languages you choose to offer!

    Would love to know your thoughts and some feedback.
    Thank you

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Very interesting tool Laurent – thanks for sharing this with us!

      It looks like a very convenient tool to have an webpages translated, and pretty easy to implement.

      I was wondering, once you’ve inserted the Bablic code into a website, will every single visitor to the site start seeing the translated page? So basically your tool just displays the website in another language, without the choice of flipping back and forth between various languages?

      What might be even more helpful is some sort of mechanism that allows people to choose between languages to view. I’m not sure if your software does this but I can’t seem to locate that feature on your site.

      Jeremy

      • #

        Hi Jeremy

        So sorry for the delayed reply, just saw this.

        You can of course switch back between languages 🙂 Take a look at Bablic.com you’ll see the floating widget with flags (customizable) on the right of the website.

        Thanks for the feedback!

        PS: We’d love to have you write a guest blog post for the Bablic Blog, maybe something about website builders 🙂

  17. #

    Hi Jeremy,

    First, your articles are indeed helpful.

    Second, what platform are you using for your own website?

    Third, i am impressed that you do respond to questions to your blogs.

    Now to my questions:

    1. It seems like only wix has the functionality that has live chat, correct?

    2. Which website builder has a search functionality?

    3. Which website builder will have a way to enlarge font by clicking that larger A usually found on the upper right corner of a website?

    4. By using a business gmail, will that help in SEO?

    5. Which website will be able to have login for participants? For example, i want to do an online journaling?

    6. Is it safe to assume that i can advertise other links on the website(s) that i plan to develop, right?

    Thanks and well, hope these guys do not hire you because it seems like we could get answers from you directly more than from them!

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Manuel,

      1) You can add a live chat function to most of website builders, as there are a number of live chat services out there that can help you get things set up.

      2) Most of the better website builders will have their own internal search bar built in. Check out Squarespace or Weebly.

      3) Not sure what you are referring to here. But you can certainly control the size of your fonts when you are editing your site.

      4) It won’t help with it directly (I don’t think so anyway), but it will help with your business branding, so it will help with SEO indirectly.

      5) Wix and Weebly allow you to create membership gateways, so only your members can log in to view certain members only pages.

      6) You can, but I’d suggest you read each web builder’s Terms of Services to make sure you’re onside with your advertisements.

      Hope this helps, and if you have more specific questions you can always reach out to each website builder’s support team! I can only point you in some direction but when it comes to more technical question, it’s best if you raise them with the website builders’ support team, which will also give you an indication of how responsive they are.

      Jeremy

  18. #

    Well good attempt at looking in to website language translation. Well read your post again…

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

    You answered your own question.

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hey Migo,

      Yes. Can’t really beat manual translation with automated translation services like Google. That’s why the website builders I suggested above give you the infrastructure to create pages with different languages where you can translate manually and create unique pages for the translated content.

      But I do see how using Google Translate can be helpful though, at least as a temporary solution. A lot of business owners just don’t have the resources (time or financial resources) to commit to fully translating a website. So testing and tracking engagement with Google Translate can be helpful to see if a full translation is actually needed!

      Thanks for your comment!

      Jeremy

  19. #

    NIce article : ) I can vouch for the good translate part!

    I’ve been coding a little trying to create a web shop. I decided to sell it in neighboring countries and found that the translation is surprisingly difficult.. Even basic words and im not really bold enough to trust google translate.. I did find a lot of free words in this article.. You might be able to use them as well

    For the context text i ended up using human translation.. its costly, I just feel it would be terrible to have a lot of errors, just seems unprofessional.

  20. #

    Very interesting post!

  21. #

    Hey Jeremy, i want to set up a new site for my training center. (Broadcastcollege.be) I am not a website designer, but i can make all my content (graphics, logos and texts) i need to be able to see stuff (workshops, or a training video , thats on vimeo or so.) It needs to be in more than one language. And i have to be able to manage it myself. But i get lost : wordpress.com, wordpress.org, weekly, Winx… no idea what an good choose would be. i want it to be able to grow. get better. But i do not want it to be too hard to adapt, make new workshops, blog and so on.. any recommandation?
    Look at it as a mini lynda.com or a ripple.com

    • Jeremy Wong
      #

      Hi Bart,

      I think the only way to see which website builder is perfect for you is to test a few out. Each of them have different user interfaces, some are more technical, some are much easier. So I’d suggest you sign up for a few of them and try them out (most of them have free accounts or at least 2 week trial periods).

      It’s only through investing that time that you will find one that you are comfortable in using.

      Jeremy

      • #

        Great article! Thank you so much!
        What services would you recommend for translation to SEO friendly text? I hear many good reviews of 2polyglot.com , but I want to hear an opinion of specialist before I hire someone.

        • Jeremy Wong
          #

          Hey Walter,

          I haven’t used that service before. But I’ve tried One Hour Translation and the service was quite good. But of course, I couldn’t assess the quality of the translation as I’m not an expert translator myself!

          But the overall process was quite professional and pleasant.

          Jeremy