Before you begin, there is an important question you must ask yourself. Is the website multilingual or multi-regional?

What is Multilingual?

A website that is multilingual typically will share the same content regardless of the language it is translated to. If you sell mobile phones online, the phones sold will be the same - only the product description will change.

What is Multi-Regional?

A website that is multi-regional has different content for various regions. For example, you may have an British website with a group of products and you may have a Switzerland website. The services your company provides are likely very different in these two countries and so the content and structure of the website would probably reflect this.

Multi-Regional websites have the additional complication that they may be multilingualand multi-regional. For example, the Switzerland website may be translated into French, Italian and German.

Another factor to consider is the culture within regions. Do colours have different connotations? Do users prefer certain fonts? Do they read right-to-left? Do they prefer longer pages, or shorter pages? Do you need to worry about Internet Explorer 6 compatibility?

Handling Multilingual

Multilingual sites are surprisingly easy to manage with ExpressionEngine. There are a number of addons that add translation functionality to the CMS, below are a number of popular options:-

  • Publisher by Bold Minded
  • Rosie by The Outfit
  • Transcribe by EE Harbor
  • Multi Language Support by EE Harbor

Alternatively, you could "roll your own" using the method described on EE Insider.

Handling Multi-Regional

When it comes to multi-regional it starts to get tricky and unfortunately there isn't a simple formula to follow. However, we can share some key tips that have helped guide us on multi-regional projects.

  1. Multiple Site Manager? MSM will let you have one installation of EE powering many websites. This sounds great on paper, but do your research and try it out before rolling it on a real project. It's a love-it-or-hate-it style solution and often the seemingly more awkward separate installation method works better.
  2. Be DRY: If you write a piece of code, for example a nicely formatted pagination, it is likely to work across all regions. Don't repeat yourself - use this snippet to save resources.
  3. Use GIT: The chances are the majority of the templates and add-ons used for regional sites are the same. By using GIT you could more easily manage the code portion of the website.
  4. Use Global Variables / Low Variables: Linking back to the previous two points, using variables will allow you to re-use code between regions and still content manage parts of those. For example, each region will have contact details - so a variable may be "Phone Number". The result is the same code between regions, but different content.
  5. Be Sensible: Unlike multilingual sites, multi-regional sites are a major undertaking. Do you have the resources to manage this? Does the client? An advantage of mutli-regional sites is you can launch regions independently of each other. So smart small, and grow smart.


It's incredibly important to fully think through every point of a multilingual and multi-regional site. If you do something wrong, your workload to correct it is probably at least double. Take things slow and approach things properly... which you do anyway, right?