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7 tips to help create and manage multilingual SharePoint communication sites

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Microsoft 365 now supports the ability to create intranet sites in multiple languages. You can create pages and news in a user’s preferred language, and you can show site navigation, the site title, and the site description in the preferred language. The process is relatively easy – but there are a few things you will want to make sure site owners and content authors know about prior to launching this great capability in your environment.

How to create a multilingual site

Please review Microsoft’s documentation and short video on how to create multilingual sites to learn how this feature works and how to enable it for your site. The documentation is very thorough and walks you through the basic “how to” information for site owners and content editors.

Tips and best practices

Even though the documentation is helpful, there are a few things you will want your owners and authors to know about that are not documented or need to be emphasized. You will most certainly want to follow the steps in Tip 4, which recommends a simple view to help manage your multilingual pages.

1. Choose the site language when you create the site

Every communication site has a default language. The default language is selected when you create the site and cannot be changed. You will get the opportunity to select the site language after you have entered the Site name. (Figure 1 below).

select site language Microsoft

Figure 1. Select a default language when you create the site.

Think carefully about the audience for the site as well as the primary language of the content authors. If your site is for a global audience, choose English as the default language. If your site is primarily for a local audience, you may want to choose an alternate default language if your governance policies allow for this. Learn how to create a communication site and select the default language.

2. All pages must be created in the default or primary language

The default language is especially important for multilingual sites because every page must be created in the default language. In other words, if your site language is English and you want the pages to also be available in French, you must create each page in English first and then make a French translation. You cannot have a French page that does not have a corresponding page in English.

3. Don’t go too fast when you create pages

When you are creating pages in your site, wait to make sure that the title for the page as been added as the URL prior to clicking the Translation button. When you first create a page, it will get a temporary name created by SharePoint. Check to see that the URL for your page matches the title on the page prior to moving on to create translations of the page.

4. Create a custom view to make it easy to manage your multilingual pages

This view is critical to helping you monitor the possible “gotchas” listed below in your multilingual site. Here is what you need to understand: your primary or default language pages are stored at the “root” of the Site Pages library. Your alternate language pages are stored in a folder in the Site Pages library with a 2-letter name for the language. The folders are automatically created for you by the multilingual feature. Do not rename them. For example, French pages are in the “fr” folder and Japanese pages are in the “ja” folder (Figure 2).

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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