International Site

 What does it mean to present an international site?
There are numerous ways to create an international site.

You may simply esteem that everyone should understand English and build your site strictly in English. Conversely, you may decide that you will only sell your products to people who speak Spanish and, therefore, create your site solely in Spanish. However, this is a pretty simplistic way of looking at things.

In a perfect world, you would create two sites with identical content (one in English, one in Spanish). But the world is not perfect. Apart from the cost factor (time spent, translations, upkeep), there are some things that will only be interesting to English speakers, and other things that will only be interesting to foreigners. In short, flexibility is key!

You could certainly choose to display the text in both languages on every page of your site. The problem with this is that, excepting certain specific cases, it significantly lengthens the read time for your visitors and leaves you with a site that is less effective in both languages even though you've made the effort to translate everything!

 Implementation of an International Site
The concept of an International Site is pretty simple. However, its implementation can prove to be a bit tricky.

The navigation principle is simple. In the menu Site|Properties, you decide if you will authorize your visitors to change the display language and what will be the default language for the start up of the site. Let's assume that you have chosen English. When a visitor comes to your site, the home page, as well as the menus in your site, will be displayed in English.

However, a flag allows the visitor to change the language to Spanish with just a single click. After the visitor clicks on the flag, the site will be displayed in Spanish.

Of course, your site will not just magically appear in Spanish. You must carefully translate all of your text.

To do this for each element (menu option, news bit, question, product, etc.) you will be able to choose the "display language".

If you choose:
  • "Display in all languages", then this element will be displayed no matter what language the visitor selects.
  • "Display when English is selected", then this element will be visible when a visitor selects English and invisible when they select Spanish or another language.
  • "Display when Spanish is selected", then you will achieve the opposite effect.
 Case in Point
Your site in English includes 4 menu options: "Home", "News", "FAQ", and "Catalog". For each of these options, you defined the rule for the display language as "Display when English is selected".

If English is the chosen language, it is logical that these 4 choices are offered to the visitor.

On the other hand, if the visitor selects Spanish, it is equally as logical that these choices are not offered!

You are therefore going to add menu options. Again, in a perfect world without time restraints, you would propose "Inicio", "Novedades", "FAQ" and "Catálogo"…

The problem with this is that you may not have the time or the necessary skills to translate all of the content in these components. So, let's assume that you make do with "Inicio" and "Catálogo". After all, you have to at least welcome visitors and try to sell them something.

For these two options, "Inicio" and "Catálogo", you are going to choose "Display when Spanish is selected".

If the user clicks on the Spanish flag, they will see these two options.

You can see that your site is now very different depending on whether the customer chooses English or Spanish!

You might now be asking yourself certain questions pertaining to the catalog. After all, the two menu options, "Catalog" and "Catálogo" are associated with the same navigation behavior: "Display one of the site components"..."Display the catalog". So, what's the resulting difference? Up to now...nothing (except for the spelling of the menu items).

The differences will come from the way that you define each product. For each product, you are indeed going to be able to choose the display rule to decide if the product will be visible in English, in Spanish, or in all languages.

The easiest thing to do would be to describe your products in both languages (the first half of the description in one language, the second half in another) and to define that they will be displayed in all languages. However, the most professional thing to do would be to describe the product twice and to define that one of these descriptions will only be displayed when English is selected, and the other when Spanish is selected.

Your site is now flexible and fluid! The procedures described here are valid for all of the components.

Even for your categories! If you define your products in two languages, then describe your categories in two languages as well (Jams/Mermeladas) and define that this information will be displayed in all languages. If you separate your English and Spanish products, then duplicate the categories. Organize them in English and in Spanish and use the English categories with your English products and your Spanish categories with your Spanish products.

You will see that this is much easier to implement than to describe!

Obviously, an international site requires a certain amount of time and effort. Everything is affected...the text in your shipping options, the home page that must be created twice, etc. But Actinic substantially helps you with this task. All of the standard text displayed by your site ("Add to Cart", "Search", etc.) is already available in English and Spanish. You can however customize these texts as desired.

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