Increase Site Traffic by Including Multi-language Content in Your Web Page | WebReference

Increase Site Traffic by Including Multi-language Content in Your Web Page

By Rob Gravelle


Want to give your website a more broad appeal and increase readership? Who doesn't?! According to a recent article on the site, Ohio State University Medical Center's website accumulated thousands of additional views in the months following the inclusion of Chinese, Russian, Somali and Spanish content. Chances are good that your site could also benefit by introducing some non-English material. Today's article will focus on various tools that you'll need to produce multilingual HTML documents.

Entity and Character References Recap

You may recall how the Globalize your Web Applications: The Universal Character Set article demonstrated how to include special characters, including control characters and those of different encoding sets than the bulk of your content. These techniques are perfect for inserting a small amount of text in your documents whose codes lie outside your main character set. A textbook example can be found in Wolfram Rösler's Hello World collection. Under the "Human" heading of the HTML section, there is a list of the endeared phrase in dozens of languages. Since many of them cannot be represented by the same character set, he employs Numeric (decimal) Character References to display some of the non-Western characters. The following document source excerpt:

...produces the following translations of "Hello World" in the browser:

Albanian Pershëndetje Botë
Arabic أهلاً بالعالم (Ahlan bil 'Alam)
Armenian Բարե՛ւ, աշխարհ։ (barev ash'kharh)
Azeri Salam Dünya
Czech Ahoj Světe!
Basque/Euskara Kaixo mundua!

Tools of the Trade

It's not hard to imagine that typing out many numeric character references would be a time-consuming and error-prone endeavor. An easier way is to use an HTML editor, which includes multilingual support, including a WYSIWYG interface. WYSIWYG is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get". The term is used to describe text or HTML editors in which content displayed during editing appears very similar to the desired output, making it easy to envision what the final product will look like.

Some good Unicode-capable HTML editors for PCs include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Microsoft Expression Web: After nine years of being an award-winning Web authoring tool, FrontPage was discontinued in late 2006. Expression Web is their new tool of choice.
  • Namo WebEditor: A complete Web authoring application; possibly the only software you will need to create, edit, publish and manage your websites.