UX for International Websites – Right to Left Scripts

There are several things to be considered when designing a website with the intention of going global. The website design needs to be suited for not just a translation of the language, but also to maintain its integrity when the target language has some very distinct differences from the original language. An excellent example of this would be translating a website with English content to Arabic. For Arabic users to have a seamless user experience when using a website, the design has to be just as engaging in Arabic as it is in English. This is where research on UX for international websites will come in handy.

While English follows the left to the right direction when being read and written, Arabic follows the right to left format. One of the primary UX considerations for international websites is that the layout can accommodate different styles of language scripts. It is estimated that about 65% of the population in Arabic speaking countries use the internet. Aside from Arabic, languages like Urdu, Kurdish, and Persian also follow the right to left style of script. With such a large user base falling in the right to left script category, it is an area that can’t be ignored if true global reach is intended.

What can be done to improve the UX when translating to Arabic and similar languages?

Make it mirror-friendly

When designing a website consider how it would look in its mirror image. In nations that follow the RtL language script, the users are also adapted to looking at progressions from right to left. For example, volume control, brightness, and so on are all shown increasing from right to left. The website should be designed to be visually appealing even when flipped around.

Remember when to keep it LtR

With a little bit of research it will come to light that not everything has to be flipped around when localizing a website of RtL countries. Many icons that appear in browsers and search pages work fine for RtL language speakers just the way they are. The refresh button, for example, does not need to have the curved arrow flipped to mirror image for it to be understood in Arabic.

Numbers have their own rule

Numbers have their own rules in RtL scripts. Numbers unlike letters in Arabic are written from left to right. So, if writing the year 2019, in Arabic it won’t become 9102 but keep the same order. However, if you are translating the phrase, from the year 2001 – 2010, in Arabic it will appear as 2010 – 2001. The website design also needs to accommodate more text in a larger font size because of the way numbers and letters are written in Arabic and some other languages.

Have good quality translation

And finally, the primary UX considerations for an international website is that the quality of the translation and the content is impeccable. It is vital to hire a translator who is not just fluent in the languages but also familiar with the culture and preferences of the target audience that speak that language. Anything less than a good quality translation will not have the desired results.

Why use Localize

While converting to an LtR script may seem like a process that warrants a very unorganized mess of a project, Localize’s Translation Management System (TMS) keeps the process quick, clean, simple, easy, and manageable. Simplifying your content and translations management with Localize gives you access to resources, such as our top-of-the-line Language Service Provides enabling you to manage everything in one simple, organized place.

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