This is a typical challenge for multilingual websites due to semi-parallelism of content. Consider the following multilingual websites in two languages: language A and language B:
The above sites are simplified to function here as examples of semi-parallel websites (described in the previous section).
Here the dilemma “what do we do with missing pages/translations?”
We have a set of strategies to adopt depending on the overall website:
None of the above strategy is the best. In some cases one strategy could be better than the other, while in other situations the opposite occurs. It all depends on the website’s content and type of visitors.
For example consider the following situation. We have 400 pages (English) to translate and publish on a multilingual website. Our target languages will be German and French. Due to a limited budget we cannot translate all the content (400 pages). We can translate max 20 pages into 2 languages every year. If we use strategy 1 we would end up with a French website where only 5 percent of the links on the site will actually take you to a page in French. In this situation the visitor will mostly encounter pages in English. A French visitor will have great difficulty to visit this kind of multilingual website. Therefore in this situation strategy 4 would be more suitable. Removing all the links to non-French pages will make the website more clear and easy to navigate for French people.
After some years we will have much more content in French. Suppose we have 90% of the content available in French. In this case it would be good to adopt another strategy where the links to non-French content are still available allowing an overview for polyglot visitors to see what is available in other languages without bothering the visitor who only know one language.
An intelligent multilingual website is adaptive and flexible. That means, it can adopt the right set of strategies in a specific combination of visitors and content. On the other hand such website is more complex to implement.
Furthermore there is no standard way on the web to solve such problems. Different approaches are implemented by different organisation, therefore making the visitor not aware of the strategy adopted. The visitor has to learn each time he/she visits a multilingual website.
Document last modified 2005/02/15. Content in this portal is modified daily by a community of providers.