Most widely spoken languages

Most widely spoken languages

ICanLocalize is a self-managed translation service that helps small businesses reach new customers from all over the world.

Today, there isn’t one single language that dominates the web. Instead, people look for solutions in their own language and adapted for their own culture.

The web makes it possible for anyone to become a global player. You too can reach to people from all over the world. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars or hire costly experts. All you need to do is learn from the experience of others who’ve already done it!

The easy way to translate Help and Manual projects

August 5th, 2009 Amir

helpWe’ve just added support for Help and Manual (H&M) projects to ICanLocalize, making multilingual help files easy and affordable to create.

Anyone making Windows applications knows that Help and Manual is the best tool for authoring Help files. It’s like using a word processor for creating Windows Help files. The only difficulty with H&M projects was having them translated.

Until now, translating H&M projects required investing in expensive translation software, making it difficult and expensive.

The new version of ICanLocalize’s Translation Assistant (our translation software) reads and writes H&M files. It allows translating and entire help project without wasting any time and spending money on tools you don’t really need.

How Translation Assistant translates Help and Manual projects

Translation Assistant will read the entire help project. It will then produce a translation project from it, which it uploads to ICanLocalize.

You will see full statistics with document, sentence and word count. Then, translators place bids for translating the project. All the translators in our system are professional and writing in their own language, so you can choose the best translator based on relevant experience in your field.

Once you select a translator and deposit the payment for the work, the translator starts working. You can see how the translation progresses at any time. Just download the translation project and build the H&M tree from it (single click).

When the translator is done, you’ll need to review the work and finalize the project.

H&M translation goodies

  1. The translators don’t work in H&M. Instead they work in our editor (which all our translators are very familiar with).
  2. No need to invest in special software. You will pay only for translation work and nothing else.
  3. When the H&M project changes, we will only translate the new or updated text.
  4. The translated H&M project will be identical to the original, just with translated contents.

You can read more about it in the Help and Manual translation page on ICanLocalize.

How much does H&M translation cost?

Translators will bid (per word) on your project. Between most languages, prices range between 0.08 to 0.05 USD / word.

System requirements

Our system supports H&M 5 (and above) projects. If you’re using an older version of H&M, you’ll need to upgrade before you can get started.

Your project needs to be saved as ‘uncompressed XML’ (if it’s in a different format, just click File->Save as).

How to get started

Head off to ICanLocalize and create an account (it’s free).

After logging in to your account, at the top of every page you’ll see a button to download Translation Assistant. Download it, install and click on the button to create a new Help and Manual project.

Posted in News | No Comments »

5 Ways a CMS Can Help Your Business

May 26th, 2009 admin

A Content Management System (CMS) can make your business more successful – let’s see how!

1. Fresh and timely contents

How long does it take you to create a completely new section for a new product on your website?

A CMS lets you add contents without sweating over the site’s structure. You don’t need to worry about navigation, links between pages, sitemaps, etc.

Just enter the new contents and hit publish. Any modern content management system lets you dedicate all your time to managing contents, without worrying about anything else.

This means that your marketing and support material is always ready on time and never lag behind the products and services.

2. Getting readers involved

The biggest challenge for any website is getting visitors involved. You want to turn that collection of passive one-time visitors into an active community. A community where people care to visit back, speak their mind and await your message.

That’s easier said than done. So, how can you do it?

Let people influence your website and your business. Let them tell you what they need and show them you care about it. That’s how!

Content management systems have many tools for doing just this. When your website is dynamic, it allows a two way dialog, rather than a dull lecture. Here are some of the tools you can use:

  • Comments – in both pages and posts, let your visitors leave you feedback.
  • Polls – ask questions, let people respond and show what others have voted.
  • Forums – create an open room for discussion where visitors can communicate freely and where everyone sees how well you respond.

3. Make it easy to remember you

Everyone is busy, sometimes a bit too much. People visit you, get excited and then wonder off. It’s not because they’re not interested, but because they have other things that grabbed their attention.

You can help by making it easy to receive updates from you. An email newsletter and an RSS feed are great ways to send your word out and help busy people engaged.

How much more business will you get if five visitors signed up to your newsletter every day?

A content management system will help you create your newsletter with ease. Blog posts can turn into great newsletter contents, delivered without any effort.

4. Make a better impression

A CMS includes basic facilities that will make your site look better, leave a better impressing and do a better job of selling you.

  • Spell checking
  • Clear navigation
  • No broken links
  • Clean HTML

Sounds simple, but how much time do you need to spend making sure your site is clean without using a content management system?

5. Rank better in search engines

This is actually a result of all the other advantages. Search engines like the same thing as visitors. They love fresh and updating contents, a clean site free of technical errors and sitemaps.

Since a content management system already delivers all these, both visitors and search engines become happier. A simple thing such as allowing users to contribute contents (in the form of comments) can make your site’s pages rank higher.

Search engines see that it’s fresh, get notified when there’s an update and treat your site as something that needs more attention. Try it and you’ll see for yourself.

Want to move to a CMS?

We’re running a program that helps migrate existing sites to content management system. It doesn’t matter how it’s built, we can put it on a CMS in no time.

The two content management systems we’re working on are WordPress and Drupal. Each has its own strengths.

It’s something that we’ve started doing a few months ago, when clients asked us to translate static HTML sites or sites built with their own PHP. We saw that it’s just way easier to spend a few days migrating to a strong CMS and continue from there than invent the wheel each time.

Interested? You can leave a comment here or (better) contact us.

Posted in CMS, Marketing, Website tips | 1 Comment »

Some translations are more important than others

May 13th, 2009 Amir

Being a translation service, we could argue that anything will benefit from being translated. If you like, we can even translate your first and last name. The fact is, some things benefit more than others when being translated.

In the last few weeks, we’ve been very involved in providing localization for iPhone applications. If you’re not a iPhone developer, here’s a quick overview of what it’s all about.

iPhone applications

iPhone is Apple’s neat all-do cell phone. You can still make phone calls with it, but besides that, you can use an iPhone to surf the net, read and write text documents and do almost anything you can do with a PC – just using a tiny little screen.

As such, Apple lets others write applications for iPhones. Because Apple’s name is all over the place, iPhone applications are expected to adhere to high standards.

Why localize iPhone applications?

Not more than 15% of the world speaks English. If you’re Mexican, most likely that you speak some English. Certainly enough to get by. Mexicans will appreciate PC programs in Spanish, but many still will use them if they’re in English only.

When it comes to cell phones, it’s a different story. Cell phones are not limitted to tech nerds (like us), not even the fancy iPhones. Everyone uses them. Cell phones also have another unique property – language is set globally for the device. Once set, the phone speaks just that language, including all the applications on it.

So, you can still sell a PC program in Mexico, even though it’s not translated to Spanish, but there’s no way you can do that with iPhone applications. To market iPhone applications in foreign markets, they need to be localized – end of story.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Guides, Marketing | No Comments »

An easy way for translating application resource files

April 22nd, 2009 Amir

Your application’s resource file is one of the most important translations you’ll do. Getting foreign clients to try it is very important, but if they get a bad impression when using the program, sales are lost.

ICanLocalize’s new application resource file translation helps do it right. Instead of treating your resource file like a plain text file, the system will read it, extract the texts that need to be translated and handle just them. Here is how it works:

1) Upload your resource file

Import resource file for translationYou will upload your resource file as-is.

Our system handles many formats for popular resource file types including Java, Delphi, C/C++/C#, PO and even iPhone.

2) Review the extracted texts and the word count for translation

review_strings_for_translationThe system will read your resource file and extract all texts that need to be translated. If this is the first time this resource file is being translated, all texts are counted. Otherwise, only new or modified texts are sent to translation.

Normally, resource files contain pairs of label and string. The translator will only be able to edit the string, not the label (labels are also not counted when we charge you).

You will see how many strings are found in your resource file and their word count.

3) Select your translator and deposit payment

Translators from our pool will apply for this job. You need to select the translator who will do the work for you.

It’s a hard choice. All our translators are certified professional translators, writing in their native language.

You can interview each of the translators and select the one with the most relevant background for your particular application. For example, if you’re doing a financial application, choosing a translator who’s got experience in finance is a good idea.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in News | No Comments »

Building websites that are easy to translate

March 3rd, 2009 admin

Websites contain text and styling. As it turns out, the site’s styling determines how easy it will be to translate it.

When you build your site, it’s important to keep in mind that one day, you may need to translate it. This means that the same pages will have to display nicely when the text changes. I’d like to talk about a few problems that we see repeating. Understanding those problems amounts to 90% of the solution. The rest is common sense.

Images and Flash as text

I’ve already covered this issue before and I’m far from being the only one talking about it. While the W3 guidelines suggest supplying alternative texts for images, you can usually skip the images altogether and achieve the same visual design using just text and CSS. It may take a bit more effort, but the rewards are great.

When translating images, translators can only supply the text that needs to appear. Then, a graphic artist needs to rebuild all images to include the translation. It’s pretty obvious that this kind of work is much more time consuming (and prone to errors) than just translating text.

Fixed size elements

All too often, graphics designers like to set exact size for elements on the screen. It starts with fixed sizes for fonts and continues with exact width and height for boxes (DIVs, table cells, etc.). With some luck such a website would look the same on different browsers (although normally they don’t). However, once translated, things tend to break up completely.

German is typically 1.5 times longer than English. So, how would it be possible to squeeze in more characters to the exact same area?

What happens with such formatting is that text spills out, boxes run over each other and nothing looks as is should. To avoid it, always go for flexible layouts. Keep objects positioned relative to each other and not in absolute locations. Never assume any relation between the size of text and images and never use cell height.

Then, test. Try your website with a different font size and see what happens. If you can increase the size by at least 50% and then reduce it by at least 50% and things still display correctly, you’re in good shape.

Sentences that are broken by HTML entities

Consider this paragraph:

“Trucks are larger than cars so they weigh more.”

It’s pretty easy to translate. Now, what happens if I put this into a table, like this one:

<table><tr><td>Trucks are larger than</td>
<td>cars so they weigh more.</td></tr></table>

What I did is take that one sentence and place it into two table rows. Maybe I did that because I tried to make the two parts of that sentence appear one below the other. Who knows?

The result is, I now have two sentence fragments to translate, each making very little sense by itself. Even worse is the translation might now fit so nicely into that structure that I arranged.

The solution is obvious. Just don’t do it. Use other means to style the page, just don’t force texts into this kind of structure.


Building a website that’s easy to translate is very simple. All that it takes is attention to the fact that text size may change. Running a simple experiment on your site before you have it translated can save a lot of time, money and stress.

Posted in Drupal, Website tips, WordPress | No Comments »

ICanLocalize Translator now free for non-profits

March 2nd, 2009 admin

ICanLocalize TranslatorICanLocalize Translator, the Drupal translation management tool, is now offered for free to non-profit organizations, to be used as a translation collaboration tool.

Many non-profit organizations build their website using open source content management systems. It’s not a surprise that leading open source projects, such as Ubuntu and government sites such as are powered by Drupal. Powerful features, ease of use and being free make it a great choice.

But, what happens when these sites need to speak several languages? It’s only natural to expect to speak both English and Spanish. Canonical, offering Ubuntu with full localization to dozens of languages, might want to offer its website in more than just English.

Why do we see such popular sites only in English?

Translation is an ongoing task. As long as new contents are created and old contents update, translation must continue. The cost of managing the translation often exceeds the cost of doing the translation. While it’s possible to assign different translators and even whole teams of translators to work on a Drupal site, translation management often falls on the shoulders of a single admin – already overloaded with work.

ICanLocalize Translator is a Drupal module which solves this problem. It releases site admins from any management work due to translation. It checks which pages need to be translated from scratch and which pages need update. Then, it sends the right contents for translation. In essence, it allows running a multilingual Drupal site without spending any time managing translation.

Authors can write contents in their language and entire site’s translation is handled by the system.

Pricing options for commercial use

  1. Full turnkey solution costs just 0.07 USD per word. ICanLocalize provides the translators and makes the translation system available for no additional charge.
  2. Clients can use their own translators and pay 5 USD per page for using the system.

And now, ICanLocalize Translator is offered for free to non-profits!

We’ve just added a 3rd plan for using the translation system. ICanLocalize Translator is made 100% free to be used as a translation collaboration tool for non profit organizations.

We’re using open source tools to create and run our business and want to contribute something back. The least we can do is make our own translation tool available for free for the exact same organization who’s work has made it possible for us to built our service. We hope that many open source projects and the organizations running them would take advantage of this offer and make their websites accessible to the world.

How to take advantage of this offer?

Webmasters, marketing folks and anyone involved in running the website are encouraged to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to give a private tour of the system.

You can read more about it in, where we teach how to build a multilingual website using Drupal and how to use ICanLocalize Translator to automate the translation process.

Posted in Drupal, News, Website tips | No Comments »

New web-guide teaches how to build multilingual Drupal sites

February 10th, 2009 admin

Drupal Translation is a new online guide dedicated to teaching how to build multilingual sites with Drupal.

A resource for Drupal webmasters

Anyone building a multilingual site with Drupal could find something useful in Drupal Translation. It starts with the basics, including which modules to install and how to configure them and continues to more advanced material such as taxonomy and CCK translation.

What’s in the guide?

The i18n module modifies the site’s database structure and many of the admin pages. Its features are distributed across different sections, such as content administration, content entry and display setup. This guide will walk you through the multilingual features, explain the difference between various options and show how to set things up coherently.

In addition to the i18n module, Drupal Translation also introduces the ICanLocalize Translator module, which works together with i18n to facilitate the translation itself by sending contents to translators and storing translation results back in the Drupal database. will always be ‘work in progress’

As Drupal and the localization modules update, so does Drupal Translation.

New, more advanced material is constantly added and contents update as new Drupal versions are released.

Available in English, German and Spanish

Drupal Translation itself is a Drupal site. Its multilingual contents are maintained using the i18n module and translation is being done using ICanLocalize Translator, which is currently available in Beta.

Posted in CMS, Drupal, Website tips | 1 Comment »

ICanLocalize Translator Drupal module available in Beta

January 27th, 2009 admin

First public release of ICanLocalize Translator offers seamless content translation, helping Drupal users run multilingual websites on auto-pilot.

If you’re running a multilingual Drupal website this new module can make your job much simpler. It will automatically send new and updated contents to translation and make sure that nothing breaks on the way.

How it works

Translation can be controlled from two places:

  • Every add/edit page will have a new section showing the translation status and allowing to send it to translation when published or saved.
  • A translation dashboard shows the translation status of all documents and allows sending batch translations.

When a document is sent to translation, its contents are sent to ICanLocalize. Translators use our translation system, translate the texts using a WYSIWYG editor but never touch the HTML.

When translation is complete, the translated HTML document is rebuilt and sent back to Drupal, where it’s stored as the translation for the original document.

Who’s translating?

If you already have your own translators, they can do the work using this module. You’ll get all the benefits of automating the translation process without any extra payment.

Of course, you can also assign translations to one of the professional translators from ICanLocalize. Translators write only in their native language. We only accept professional translators, who can supply a university degree in translation and have passed our internal qualifications program.

Maintaining high translation quality

Automation is great, but above all, translation must be accurate, fluent and culturally correct. To achieve this, multiple QA measures have been built into the system:

  • Website owners interview and select their translators. Although all translators working in our system are professional translators, some texts require special background in order to translate correctly. When a translator applies for a job, site owners can interview them in order to verify that the translator understands the essence and details of the site.
  • Translators only edit the text, not the formatting. Drupal documents contain text and formatting. The translators only translate the text, never touching the HTML. Our system extracts the texts making translation much faster and easier.
  • Translations are reviewed before uploading. Even the most gifted translators can overlook things. Our system requires translators to carefully review their work before uploading to your live site.
  • We encourage direct communication between site owners and translators. Translators have an open communication channel with website owners, where they can ask for clarifications about the text they’re translating.
  • Built in spell checking in multiple languages. Spell checking is a required step in the translation. Not only does it highlight errors during editing, but the translator must also manually approve any exception before submitting translations.

How do I get started?

There are a few things you need to do in order to have your Drupal site translated using ICanLocalize Translator:

  1. Download and install ICanLocalize Translator in your Drupal site (free).
  2. Open an account in ICanLocalize (free).
  3. Set up a translation project in your ICanLocalize account. A wizard will guide you through (free).
  4. Follow the configuration guide to setup the translation in your Drupal site.
  5. Start sending translation jobs. Payment is calculated per word, according to the rate which you’ve agreed to with the translators you’ve selected.

Need help?

Feel free to contact us. To report issues with the translation module or to request new features, visit the issue tracking page.

Posted in CMS, Drupal, News | No Comments »

Low Cost Market Research – Which Languages Should I Translate To?

January 22nd, 2009 admin

It’s a common question, which we get from many clients:

I’ve got a successful product that’s selling in English. How can I tell which languages I should translate to?

It turns out, you can know in advance by doing a simple experiment. You’ll get real-world data, specific to your product, eliminating the guesswork and speculation.

A tiny investment can help you make the right decision and spend your money and time where you can get a return.

Test to see what people are looking for

Since Google is the de-facto standard for web search, this is where the data is found. Luckily for us, Google makes this data available and easy to access. It’s not necessarily done for the greater good of humanity. Google knows that making it easier for advertisers benefits them directly.

0) Setup a Google Adwords account

If you don’t have it, set it up. It’s free and takes a few minutes to set up. Until you start running live ads and getting clicks, you don’t need to pay for anything.

Before we start running ads, we’ll use the free data mining tools from within your account.

To start, go to Google Adwords.

1) Use Google keyword tool to see how many people search for your product in their language

Google Keyword Research Tool

Google Keyword Research Tool

It’s pretty trivial, but often overlooked. It’s much easier to sell something when people look for it. If it’s a great product but people don’t know they need it, you’re in to a lot of work. Once people already know they need something like you’re offering, they start searching for it.

Once logged in to your Adwords account, click on Tools->Keyword Tool.

Enter your keywords in the keyword box and then click ‘Get keyword ideas‘.

If you need help with translating your search terms from English to Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese or Japanese, you’re welcome to use our keyword translation tool. This tool will show you translation, done by our professional human translators for common search terms. You can use it to see how people might look for your product in their language.

2) Review the statistics and check for search volume and advertiser competition


Keyword search results

In this example, we’ve searched for wine, translated to Spanish –  vino.

We asked Google to show a broad range of results, so that we can see both our search term and other related terms (this is the default option).

If we look closely at the results, we can see that about 320,000 each search for either vino or vinos (wine or wines). We can also see that advertiser competition is fierce. Where there’s a lot of fish, there are also a lot of fishermen.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t venture into this. We just need to go with eyes open and understand the market beforehand. If your market position is already excellent in English, you could gain market share in the crowded Spanish vino market.

However, if we’re planning on serving a very niche market of ‘Bodega vinos‘, we should be aware of the fact that only 46 people per month are search for it (on Google).

Put up an ad and check how people react to it

Now that we’ve made sure that people are looking for what we’re going to offer and that we can compete with the advertising competition, it’s time to see if people like what we’re offering.

We’ll create a text ad (or a few of them) and a landing page. Then, we’ll let it run for a while and collect information.

3) Summarize your message in a single sentence

If you havn’t done this already, now would be a good time.

When you put up an advertisement, people need to be able to scan it in a fraction of a second and decide if it’s relevant for them. You need to be able to tell your whole store in a simple and short sentence. If you can’t do it, chances are there’s something wrong with your story.

So, today, we’re selling red wines from Mendoza. Why should people buy from us? Because we sell directly from the winery to your home.

Instant Human Text Translation

Instant Human Text Translation

Here’s our ad text, in English:

Title: “Mendoza red wine

Body: “From the winery to your home. Check your cost!

This sums up unique our selling proposition and asks for action (“check your cost”). If you’re in the market for red wines, the title will grab your attention.

Now, we need to translate this to Spanish. This is very delicate text and we want to know we’ve translated it correctly. Machine translation will not do it justice and will likely lead us to wrong conclusions (for which we’ll pay with interest).

We’re going to use the Instant Human Text Translation service from ICanLocalize. What this does is send your text, along with the comments we’ve entered to a professional translator (who’s a native Spanish speaker). The translator would provide the correct translation to put in our Spanish ad.

4) Create a landing page

A landing page is where visitors arrive after clicking your ad. Our landing page will let visitors know they came to the right place, elaborate a bit more about what we’re offering and suggest what to do next (buy our wine, learn more or ask us a question).

We can create a landing page in a variety of ways. If you’re already using a Content Management System, you can just add another page with it. Otherwise, create a static HTML file. It doesn’t really matter how, what’s more important is what you put there.

The title of the landing page can just repeat the ad title. Then, the text should be short and clear. Remember that your visitor has just clicked on an ad and got there. It doesn’t mean visitors are willing to spend minutes figuring out what you’re offering.

Use 2-4 very short sentences, explaining what you’re offering, what makes it unique and why it’s a must-have and anyone who likes wine.

Then, add some action buttons. Ideally, you’ll have a single prominent action button for your preferred action (go shopping).

Once you’re happy with your landing page, get it translated too. For this too, you can use the website translation service from ICanLocalize to translate anything from a single page (this landing page) to your entire website.

5) Get ready to record statistics

Before going live and starting your experiment, make sure you can collect and analyze results. Here the possibilities are wide.

We use Google Analytics for measuring results. Some people don’t like it, as you’re basically sharing your private information with the same company where you’re advertising in. Conspiracy theories suggest that Google uses this information against you. We haven’t seen any evidence for this.

Other web analytics tools run on your web server logs to get the exact same information. Besides Google Analytics, we also use a program called Web Log Storming.

Whatever you decide to use, it’s important to be able to collect data starting with the ad views, through ad clicks and all the way to the actions taken on your landing page.

6) Run your ad to get real life statistics


Ad creation tool in Adwords

Go back to your Google Adwords account and create an ad based on the translated ad text you’ve got. Take your time and be very specific.

The ad setup tool lets you select important parameters such as the search language and location. Choose these wisely.

You’ll get more accurate information by creating several campaigns with tighter targeting. For example, you could create a different campaign for Spanish speakers in the US, Central America and South America. You can even go deeper and create a different campaign per country.

Let you ad run for a while before you jump to conclusions. A week is usually considered the shortest duration for any such experiment. Also, take into account any holidays or vacations that occur while you’re running your experiment and factor their effect.

Caution: make sure you set a reasonable daily limit for your ad. You don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for running this experiment. Also, to start with, turn off the ‘content network’ and stick to Google search. This will reduce the chance of fraudulent clicks affecting your data.

Analyze the results, draw conclusions and follow them

Now that your ad has been running for about a week, you’ve got lots of information that needs to be analyzed. Let’s start with what we’re interested in:

  • How many people saw your ad?
  • How many clicked on it?
  • How long did they stay in your landing page?
  • Where did they continue?
Adwords Statistics

Adwords Statistics

You can tell how many people saw your ad and how many of them clicked on it by checking the ad’s statistics in Adwords.

If you set up goals you’ll also be able to see, right here, how many continued to what you’ve defined as ‘goals’ (like your purchase, or payment page).

General reference: a click through rate (CTR – the percentage of people who clicked on your ad, out of those who saw it) of about 1% is OK. If you’re seeing something like 3-5%, you’re in excellent shape. Much below 1%, means you’re going to need a whole lot of visitors in order to get significant traffic. You should consider making changes in your ad text if you’re seeing this kind of CTR.

Next, go to your Web Analytic and check what’s going on there. Check how long people have stayed on your landing page. This is an excellent indication for their level of interest. Visitors who spent 5 seconds and flew away are not likely to become your loyal customers.

Check where they’re coming from, what time of the day they’re visiting (hint: are they at work or home?) and what they’re doing next on your site.

Don’t ignore the results you’ve collected

This may seem a bit trivial, but it isn’t. When you’ve set your mind to it, it’s not always easy to accept contradicting results.

If your experiment produces much different results than you’ve expected to see don’t kill the messenger. Just because you don’t like the results doesn’t mean they’re wrong. If you’re not happy with what you see, try again. Think about your value proposition and how you stated it. Don’t be shy about changing things and trying again.

And, if you did get the reassurance you wanted, make sure it’s valid. Before you venture in, try to get visitors to interact with you and validate your conclusions. Ask people to leave comments or to contact you. Ask them questions and see how they respond.

Final words: Good luck with your enterprise. We know it’s not easy getting into unknown terittories, especially when you don’t speak the language. If you need any help, contact us and we’ll do our best to assist.

Posted in Advertising, Market research | No Comments »

How Should I Build a New Website?

January 13th, 2009 admin

A few years ago, building a website was a straight forward task. You’d get a template, put in your text and upload to a web server.

Today, everyone wants to benefit from new technologies and build dynamic websites which interact with visitors. There’s a good reason too. When visitors can communicate with you, via your website, they become more involved. When visitors are active, there’s a much greater chance that they also become your customers.

Evaluate your needs and capabilities

1) Decide what you want your website to do

This seems trivial, but is often forgotten. Different website building platforms have different capabilities. These often include:

  • Static pages
  • News (a.k.a, a blog)
  • Forums
  • Members only sections
  • A support center
  • Resources for download

2) Evaluate your technical skills and how much you’re willing to spend

Do you know this saying?  – “there’s no such thing as a free meal“. It’s true today just as it was when it was last conceived – a long time ago.

Even if you use free software to build your website, you’re still going to pay for it. It’s going to cost you both time and money. We use the standard LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack to build our sites and still pay substancial sums to keep things up and running.

Evaluate correctly and honestly how much you’re willing to spend, both in terms of your own time and in terms of money before you choose a web development platform. We’ll get to that back in a minute.

3) Decide how long you’re willing to wait

Some platforms have a very active community with excellent folks that you can hire right away and get started. Other platforms are less popular, with a smaller community. You may end up with excellent results but need to wait a bit more until it’s ready.

It’s important that you come prepared with a realistic schedule.

Choose a platform

We’ve been doing extensive work on two great web development platforms:

Of course, there are other excellent alternatives, but I’d like to talk about what we’re intimately familiar with.

WordPress as a great Content Management System (CMS)

WordPress started a few years ago as a blogging platform and has evolved into a full featured CMS.

What makes WordPress a great CMS, and a great tool for building complete websites:

  1. It’s dead easy to install and use.
  2. Got thousands of free and non-free templates (see some ideas for WordPress CMS themes).
  3. Got thousands of excellent plugins (check out this list of plugins that turn WordPress into a CMS).
  4. It’s editor is probably best in kind and keeps getting better.

What’s missing from WordPress when used to build full websites:

  1. No multilingual content support (you can get around this by using ICanLocalize Translation System).
  2. No built in facilities for building usable site-wide navigation (among other solutions, you can use our WordPress CMS plugins).

Bottom line:

WordPress can be a great solution for building complete websites. It’s great for small businesses who want a great looking and highly functional website but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars creating and running it.

A single person can be in change for site maintenance and content management. For a small fee, you’ll find great web designers who will build a WordPress theme for you which will make your business website look professional.

Drupal – a top notch CMS

When people think about CMS, the first thing that comes to mind is Joomla!. Why are we talking about a less known system such as Drupal?

Drupal has been designed for heavy lifting. As such, it places an emphasis on infastructure, sometimes willing to sacrifice ease of use. Here is what makes Drupal great:

  1. It can do anything you’d ever dream from a website.
  2. It never breaks or wrinkles.
  3. Once set up, running a Drupal based site is as smooth as it gets.
  4. There aren’t any shortcuts, meaning, everything is always in place. If you hired a developer to set up your Drupal site and then changed developer, he’ll have no trouble at all picking up where it left off. This isn’t a minor feature for a business website!
  5. It comes built in to handle multilingual contents. If you want to further simplify things and automate the translation process, you can try the ICanLocalize Translator module for Drupal.

The obvious cons for building a site with Drupal come from its nature:

  1. Unless you’re a Drupal professional, there’s no way you can set up a Drupal site.

That’s it really and it’s not a very bad thing. Letting a pro create and administer your site is probably a pretty good decision for any business, regardless of its budget.

Bottom line:

If you can afford it and need the strengh Drupal affords, it’s an excellent choice and any website.

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