One of the very important steps in localizing a website is deciding where in your website the visitors will be made aware of the existence of those translated versions,
and when they’ll be given the opportunity to switch between these languages.
Sometimes it will be a choice you can only make at the home page. In other cases, a dedicated landing page for region and language selection is offered to the visitor from many or all pages throughout your site. Not every site wants or needs a language selector. Some sites will be self-contained microsites that don’t even need to cross-link amongst the other language versions. In many cases though, there will be a need to give the web visitor easy access to different language versions of the main site that they are currently reading. The language selector is thus an important part of your site visit’s global experience.
Before we go into the details of it all, let’s summarize two facts:
- A link from your original source website to the localized website(s) maintained by SYSTRANLinks will not appear magically or automatically by itself, unless you do one little thing: It does require a very small intervention from your webmaster, to make a small change to your original site. This can be most easily done by inserting a one-line piece of html code which SYSTRANLinks generates for you. You can pick up it by using the ‘Get HTML Code’ option. Or, you can see what the URLs are for all those localized sites generated by your SYSTRANLinks project, and you can insert your own custom code that links to these sites. You can thus create your own language selector.
- If the above-mentioned ‘Get HTML Code’ option is used, it’s nice to know that this represents ‘dynamic’ code, i.e. if you make any subsequent changes to the Display Mode settings and options through your SYSTRANLinks control panel, these options will be ‘seen’ by the dynamic HTML code and take effect, without the need for you to re-edit the original site’s pages.
In short: if you know what you’re doing, you can do this your way. If you aren’t sure, you can use the easy way provided by SYSTRANLinks.
SYSTRANLinks built-in or homemade ?
You can either create your own language selector, or you can let SYSTRANLinks do most of the work for you.
If you create your own, it’s usually because you want a special layout or a different navigation flow for your visitor than letting them select the language from any page. For example, you might prefer to have a global landing page, something like a single access page from where the visitor will be presented with all the available languages, perhaps through a fancy clickable map of the world.
In cases like these, you will be in control of what code goes where on your site, and what changes are needed to your existing page or pages. To access any of the localized versions, you’ll just need to know the full path (url) to each of the the respective localized pages, and write your own language selector code to point to that.
Under which domains are my translated sites?
For example, if your site is in English and known as “mysite.com“, then the Spanish version which is created and hosted in the cloud by SYSTRANLinks might be: “es.mysite.com.systranlinks.net“ whereas the French version would be “fr.mysite.com.systranlinks.net“.
You can see the main url of your localized site here in the Configuration section:
Therefore, if you want to create your own language selector, you simply add your links across those pages on your own site wherever you wish to make it possible for your visitors to switch to those languages, and you let those links point to the respective localized sites.
Of course, it can be a bit tedious sometimes to make such changes to many or all your existing site’s pages. Perhaps you didn’t plan for extra space for the languages, or for the extra graphic to show the country flags. Or, perhaps you simply don’t want to make many changes to your existing site. SYSTRANLinks can help minimize this effort.
SYSTRANLinks built-in Language Selectors
SYSTRANLinks offers pre-defined language selectors and also the possibility to deeply customize fonts, colors, layout and position. There are a few available to choose from, and you can easily copy and use their code. Below is where you can find the language selector options and grab the chosen code:
Simply choose the Display Mode in your SYSTRANLinks console, within the Settings category. You’ll see a button from where to pick one of the presets. The current, resulting look is shown on the right side. Note that this is just a preview and will not show all your enabled languages: just enough to get an idea of where the language selector will appear and how it will look, as well as how it will behave to a visitor’s mouse-over events. For example, select one of the styles that show a vertical pull-down menu, and then move the mouse to position it over the menu.
Below the presets button there are also several tabs with extra options. Study them well and consider whether you wish to use them, because they enable extra fine details of the language selector’s appearance and behavior.
For example, do you want the various languages to appear in English, or rather translated into their respective language? Should it read ‘Spanish’ to access the Spanish site, or should it read Español? Plus, should it also show a Spanish flag next to it?
Other options might also come in handy. Read the tooltips and check additional information in the User guide which is accessible at the bottom of the interface: Help.
Once you’ve selected the desired look and behavior, you can simply click the Get HTML code button. This will open a popup and display the code that you should copy and paste into your home page:
You can then select, and copy the proposed script code: Right-click the text, and use ‘Select All’. Then right-click and select Copy. From there, you can paste it into your website’s pages, depending on where from your original site you want to offer access to this language selector. Your web visitors will then see the available languages, and they’ll be able to switch to the desired languages from there.
A few other techniques and scenarios related to language selectors can be found in the user guide.
Custom Domain Serving
There is one more noteworthy detail, especially if you create your own language selectors: Custom domain serving. Indeed, while the localized sites may be generated by SYSTRANLinks and hosted as subdomains of systranlinks.net, you may prefer to have them accessed by a different name: your own custom domain. For example, instead of es.mysite.com.systranlinks.com, you might own the domain mysite.es, or want to use a subdomain of yours (e.g. es.mysite.com) – those are custom domains typically inserted in the Configuration tab. So, if you know that the localized pages will be served and reachable through your own domains, then you shouldn’t have to work with those long systranlinks.net urls. Use your own domains instead.
We’ll cover custom domains in more detail with a separate post. For now, just keep in mind that you do have several options as to what code to use, and what domain they point to. It’s all there at your fingertips, ready to pick and go.