Earlier this year we ran a series of interview on developers of very high-profile Joomla websites. Now in a new series we're talking with developers of normal business websites and interesting aspects of their work.

This week we're talking with Mark Rosser of AmorWebDesign.com, based in England and Spain, about building multi-lingual websites with Joomla.

Why did you choose to focus on Joomla?

We had been monitoring the evolution of content management systems for some time. We believed that they were destined to become the preferred environment for web developers and clients alike. Being peripatetic we wanted to focus on international clients and therefore required an environment that allowed us to create multi-lingual sites with ease.

Working from different locations throughout the UK and Europe we are able to have members of our team working simultaneously on a project whilst providing a seamless build to our clients. Moreover, with in excess of 5000 extensions, Joomla enables us to offer our clients an enormous amount of features specific to their individual requirements. This has resulted in us, so far, being able to fulfil every request made by our clients.

What SEO benefits do multi-lingual Joomla sites have?

With the Joomla core and a set of standard extensions we are able to build functional multi-lingual sites which are highly optimised for search engines.

Our preferred extensions which we habitually install on multi-lingual sites are: Joomfish, sh404SEF, XMap and QContacts. All of these can be individually optimised, targeting the user more effectively and thus delivering the required results to our clients.

Joomfish allows us to administer all translation elements within a site with a high level of control, and its compatibility with sh404 enables us to manage and customise URLs, page titles and descriptions in multiple languages.

Why not use an automated translation tool?

Translation engines and automated translation tools have come a long way in the past few years but in our experience they still make fundamental errors. This can happen if the website owner does not personally speak a language incorporated on their site and, instead of employing the services of a translator, rely on an automated translation tool. We have seen instances where amusing translations have been uploaded with the site owner blissfully unaware of the confusion they cause their foreign clients.

Additionally, direct translations will not necessarily have the same meaning or, indeed, impact on a client from another culture. This is particularly true if, for example, one is employing a “call to action”. The direct, assertive approach of some languages does necessarily work with others and a softer approach may well be needed.

This is demonstrated quite clearly on this site, www.vuestracasa.com, where the German translations are more direct and to the point in comparison with the English and Spanish pages. Joomfish allows us manually write bespoke translations, specific to the site and the target user.


What other multi-lingual features of Joomla are useful?

Owing to the global nature of the Internet, along with the recent announcement by ICANN relating to the use of Internationalised Domain Names, the demand for localised websites will grow exponentially.

As we develop sites for international clients, Joomla enables us to easily configure the language to user preference in both front and back end. Joomla's flexible approach to language configuration has also enabled us to build this site, www.david-manufacture.ch in Swiss-German as the primary language with English as the translation.

David Manufacture

With over 50 language packs, including local dialect translations, it makes Joomla an extremely powerful development platform. Additionally, most of the extensions we use have language packs that allow us to set the environment, at the front end and within the admin area, to the user’s preferred language.

How does Joomla allow you differentiate yourselves?

On commencement of a new project we work with the client to prepare a detailed scope of work and project plan. However, it is our experience that once clients see the results and functionality of Joomla, they invariably request further features to be incorporated. The modular approach of Joomla permits us to add these features with ease and to make changes swiftly, and to display these changes to the client who may well be located on another continent.

Our clients have high expectations of their website and Joomla, as a stable and effective development tool, gives us confidence that we can not only meet but often exceed their expectations.

Clients have often commented, once they are familiar with the administration panel, on how user-friendly Joomla, as a content management system, is. They feel comfortable making changes, with many taking complete control of their site and managing it very successfully.

The majority of the multi-lingual sites we have built have been translated into Spanish and/or German, which seem to be the most often requested languages, and we are currently working on a site that will include Swedish alongside English and Spanish.

Over the past 3 years, our reputation for providing good quality, multi-lingual sites has grown, with most of our work coming directly from referrals.

What are your plans for Joomla 1.6?

There are so many new and exciting features in Joomla 1.6. The major changes to ACL will add significant control to the platform and should make Joomla more appealing to the enterprise. The removal of sections and the addition of nested categories will make it easier to structure and manage content. The language support improvements will be particularly attractive to our clients.