By: Shankar
April 4 2018

Why Drupal is great for multilingual sites

Are English speakers the majority of the internet users? Should your business be solely concentrating on them for their business endeavors? What if you can reach out to non-English internet users in the pursuit of your business expansion to newer markets? Drupal 8 is a great platform that comes with the capability of delivering multilingual websites out-of-the-box.

Digital businesses going multilingual have numerous benefits. Here’s how and why.

Online Content In Native Language

English enjoys the hegemony over other languages in the internet world. Isn’t it a marvelous way to reach out to potential customers and talk to them in their mother tongue? It can turn out to be a real asset if the online users can read content on your website in their native language.

Explore Newer Markets

There are big markets out there that you must target to set up your digital business. Hundreds and millions of users surfing the internet are the speakers of official languages of the United Nations like Chinese, Spanish or Arabic. Digital businesses have realized this opportunity to tap into markets with non-English internet users.

Statistics representing number of internet users in terms of language

Industries In Dire Need Of Multilingual Sites

There can be innumerable possibilities and business-centric reasons for a firm to make their site multilingual. You might be an Indian restaurant located in the United States. It’s great to have a website that showcases your food menus in your native language for the Indian online users.
Or, you may be an internationally well-known hospital and have patients seeking your medical services around the globe. A multilingual site can be a terrific option to help them understand about your medical facilities.
Even a museum can have the need of drafting a list of all the exhibitions in the multiple languages for foreign visitors on their website. Speaking of foreigners, business enterprises in the tourism industry can display web content in various languages for tourists from different countries.


No matter what your industry type is or what sort of services you provide. Being a digital business, you want to be internationalized and increase your business revenues. Restricting your business to dole out the services to English language speakers would not support your cause. You must be aiming for non-English visitors to land on your website.

Improve Searchability - Organic Reach

Multilingual sites are doubly important for your digital presence. Countries like China have their own search engine in addition to Google. Having a site in their native language has more chances of your website being found online and improving its searchability.

Overcome Cultural Barriers

When you strive to make your site multilingual, your digital business overcomes multiple cultural barriers. You make your non-English users aware of your services and products. A mutual trust is created in the process. They understand that you want to serve them better in a language they are the most comfortable with.

In a follow up to this article, we will walk you through the actual implementation of a Drupal 8 multilingual website for your business. Here we will confront with the things a digital business has to face while thinking of going multilingual.
The rudimentary things you come across when you think about Drupal for your multilingual needs:

  • Why Should You Opt For Drupal?
  • Multilingual Site: Drupal 7 Or Drupal 8
  • Case Study 

Why Should You Opt For Drupal?

It is quite an ordeal when it comes to expanding your website and making it multilingual. It is important that you are inquisitive regarding this decision and ask questions concerning your business. Should you translate all of the content? What components do you need to add to your site? How will you be managing your pages in the default language?
The content of your website is built and stored in your Content Management System (CMS). It is of paramount importance to rethink on your existing CMS. Choosing the right CMS in the very beginning makes migration much simpler.

Drupal In The Mix

To outstretch into a multilingual site is a business transforming decision. Drupal CMS has powerful multilingual features. You need to consider various things before even plunging into the act.
Having a multilingual website has a huge potential to reach unprecedented customer base. Drupal has amazing properties that can lend a powerful multilingual website.
Drupal has weathered headwinds and has had a tremendous evolution over time. It has solved a lot of intricacies in Drupal 7. Furthermore, Drupal 8 has built-in multilingual features.
With Drupal, you can choose from over 90 languages. It has a built-in translational core. Drupal not only translates your content but all the fields, forms and error messages. Everything from configuration settings to menus and views can be translated in Drupal 8.
Drupal also has the auto-detection of language and the auto-downloading of latest interface translations.
Moreover, Drupal scales with you. No matter how much multilingual content you add, Drupal is scalable for your needs.

Through The Eyes Of Media

A digital firm from media and publishing industry can have visitors from different countries and speak different languages. It is imperative for them to make a changeover and move on to a multilingual website.


Al Jazeera's homepage; one of the best examples of multilingual sites
Al Jazeera Media Network, powered by Drupal 8 platform, expanded into a multilingual site ( English and Arabic).

There can be many questions over which they might have to ponder. Again, they have to be inquisitive. Should they display the content in the default language? Will their CMS be flexible enough? Will they be able to manage the changes incurred by the translation of web content Like the layout of the translated page or the spacing between the words?
Their new stories can have linked content. How should they translate all of their news stories and linked blogs? Such things should be considered.
Digital media has its presence in diverse locations. Speaking the language of different countries and internet users can pay dividends for them. Drupal 8 is a great option for making their site multilingual ready.

Multilingual Site: Drupal 7 Or Drupal 8

DrupalCon Dublin 2016 session discussed the multilingual makeover of a Drupal site. A side by side comparison was done between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. It also emphasized on the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative to delineate the heroic efforts took by the developers to make Drupal 8 multilingual than ever before.

What’s Wrong With Drupal 7?

Business conglomerates find themselves in a dilemma when they have to choose between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. An industry might already be using Drupal 7 and immensely satisfied with its features. They would, of course, want to know if they can make their Drupal 7 site multilingual or whether they have to move on to Drupal 8.

No Multilingual Feature

Drupal 7 is a very stable and powerful CMS. But the multilingual sites were not a major consideration when Drupal 7 was built.

A Developer’s Nightmare

It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming effort for the developers to build a multilingual site out of Drupal 7. Developers had to use a lot of modules in it to build multilingual sites.
To rectify this, Drupal 8 was built with non-English sites in mind from the very beginning. It was able to support multilingual sites straight out of the box.

Drupal 8: a Great platform for multilingual sites

Unlike the need for numerous modules in Drupal 7, the built-in multilingual feature of Drupal 8 comes with 4 key modules.

Administering Language

Language handling module

The Language handling module lets you pick your choice from 94 languages.
Language configuration has been streamlined. Assign a language to everything from taxonomy terms to administration language. You can even delete the English language. Each user can also select his or her own language for the admin interface.
The detection of browser language can be easily configured with external language codes. There is also a built-in transliteration for the machine names.

Translating Interface

Interface translation module

Interface translation module provides a central directory to manage interface. It has built-in translation UI for simplifying content editing. By allowing automatic downloads and updates, it lets users use any translation interface available in the Drupal community in any language supported by Drupal 8.
English language interface can be customized. You do not have to use English as your default language.

Translating Content

Content translation module
Content translation module is applicable to all of your content. It lets you translate everything from the pages to the taxonomy terms. It allows you to configure custom fields of a web content.
Like interface translation, the default language of your content can be flexibly configured. You can even hide or display the position of language selector.

Managing Configuration

Configuration translation module
Everything that comes with the configuration of your website can be translated using this module. Things like views, blocks, panels, field panels or text formats can be easily translated with its built-in responsive translation interface.
Moreover, there is a provision of an overview screen to help you in the process.

Case Study

A digital firm in the Education industry had a 5 times increase in their daily traffic once they made their Drupal site multilingual.

A digital agency helped this firm to translate the content of their website to improve their online presence. The client’s Drupal site provided information on higher education in Spain. The site has a great user base in the Spanish search engine Hence, their site content was in Spanish.

So, to be accessible by the English visitors, the digital agency helped them make their Drupal site multilingual. The rewards were unbelievable.

Their website traffic increased multifold. Within 3 months, they witnessed a 292% rise in their online visitors


While English language internet users have been the primary source of the target of every business. There has been unprecedented growth in the non-English language online users as well. Reaching them out is beneficial for widening your customer base and establishing their business in newer markets.
Your content determines the website traffic, customer retention, and conversion rates. CMS is the warehouse of your web content. It is significant to choose the right CMS before even making your first move towards making your site multilingual.
It is an arduous task for the developers to develop non-English sites using Drupal 7. Drupal 8 has stood the test of time and has made tremendous improvements to include the built-in multilingual feature. Drupal 8 delivers multilingual websites right out of the box.

Drupal 8 comes with 4 key modules for language, interface, content, and configuration of your website. This helps in efficaciously building a multilingual site. 
We will be coming up with another blog that would discuss the actual implementation of Drupal 8 multilingual site.

To tap into newer markets with multilingual Drupal websites, reach us out here.