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Things to Consider When Developing a Multilingual Healthcare Website

Having a multilingual site can enhance your hospital or medical practice’s digital presence.

More importantly, it lets your non-english speaking patients find, obtain and understand needed information regarding their care.  While exceptionally useful, offering content in different languages can add complexity to your hospital or medical group’s website. You may ask yourself how do I get started? Translating content is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many things to consider when deciding to go down the multi-lingual path.

multilingual-medical-healthcare-website1. Identify the scope

Consider what you want to achieve. Every healthcare organization is different. Identify what your specific needs are. For example, if you have a high percentage of non-english speaking patients, you may want to consider a full multilingual site. For others, a simple page or two in the second language with required information is all you need. Items you should consider include:

  • Do you wish to translate website elements such as call out graphics, buttons and banner text
  • Will you structure the site differently in a second language with more or less pages, and in a different order 
  • Do you need to implement all or only some of your website features in the second language. These features can include things like a physician directory, patient engagement quiz or secure patient forms.

2. Content translation

When posting content in different languages, it’s best not to rely on translation software or the Google Translator tool. While these options can be quick and cost-effective, the accuracy of the translated text they provide could lead to misunderstanding. It’s a good idea to seek a human translator as they have a good grasp on subtle cultural, linguistic and semantic language differences.

3. Software considerations

If your website is built on WordPress, you have a number of options available to help you manage and scale a multilingual site. Depending on your scope, you won’t always need multilingual software (plug-ins) to manage content.  For example, you can create create a specific category or custom post type for your second language instance. You may also consider duplicating your website and hosting it on different domains (URLs). The disadvantage here is that you’ll need to maintain multiple websites, possibly on a WordPress multi-site.

If you wish to have an entire duplicate of your site for additional languages, there are a number of free plug-ins available including Multilingual Press and Bogo. The WPML plug-in is a great paid solution with a ton of features. You will need to work with a developer that has experience working with this software. It is a complex configuration that requires a thorough understanding of how WPML works.

4. Accessing language options

Your website visitors will need an easy way to select and change to their language of choice. Adding a drop down menu on the top right of a website will allow users to easily switch between language instances. Make sure that this feature is easy to see and access site-wide.

There is no one perfect solution for a multilingual website.

The right path depends on your specific needs. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different approaches or phase into a more robust solution. Your requirements will drive which option makes the most sense for you.

With experience in developing multilingual solutions, Practis is here to help. Contact us to discuss your project needs.