Yana Frank: How I Made Multilingual Product Descriptions Convenient
Posted Jun 28, 2018 by Yana Frank

Yana Frank: How I Made Multilingual Product Descriptions Convenient

The author of this post is an Ecwid merchant. If you have an Ecwid e-commerce store and would like to share your expertise or give advice to aspiring online entrepreneurs, you can get published in our blog too.

Hello, fellow Ecwid merchants! My name is Yana Frank. The internet knows me as an illustrator, author, and blogger. I’ve been running my Ecwid store Miu Mau for many years.

As any merchant, I’m always trying to make my online store more convenient for my customers. Today I’d like to share a case study based on my experience with Ecwid E-Commerce.

My store is special. I sell in three countries to a very diverse audience using just one website, and I’ve managed to display perfect product descriptions in three different languages at the same time. No clumsy machine translations.

If you are selling (or are going to sell) internationally like me, then you are the one I’m writing this for. Come aboard!

My store, Miu Mau

My store, Miu Mau

Backstory

I am an illustrator and a designer from Russia, and I’ve been living in Germany for 28 years. I’ve worked as an illustrator and have drawn comics, studied advertising graphics, and then worked as a designer, art director, and creative director in agencies.

I’ve been sharing stories about my life on my top 20 in the rating of all Russian blogs.

After I moved abroad, I created a personal website where I spoke about my life, my work, and my blog. I made the website multilingual since my readers speak several languages. They are German and English speakers from Berlin, as well as readers from Russia, Russian-speaking people in the EU, and readers from English-speaking countries.

The audience is so diverse that I let them switch the language of the website manually — English, German, or Russian.

Yana Frank online store

Readers can choose the language themselves — right under the logo

Problem

I used to run my Ecwid store separately from my personal website for a long time.

Ecwid supports over 50 languages. It can detect the language of a customer’s browser and switches the storefront language to it. That was quite convenient, but I wasn’t sure if it’d be enough for my audience, which had got used to having manual control over the languages on my personal website.

I decided to find out their preferences before adding my store to my website. So I asked my customers in a blog survey which option they preferred:

  • the store automatically switches to their browser’s language;
  • the store has an option to switch languages manually.

The majority said they wanted both! Surprisingly, automated switching to the browser’s language became a problem in some cases.

Imagine: You are an English native speaker and you live and work in Germany. Your browser language is set to German, but you prefer to read my blog in your mother tongue, and you select it manually. However, when you click on the online store tab, the store language switches to German.

So all the product descriptions are now in German too. It can be confusing — and you can’t switch back to English because it’s automated.

I have quite a large number of such readers, so I needed to make the translations work both ways. People wanted to have an option, and I couldn’t let them guess what the product descriptions say. If you want to make more sales, quality product descriptions are super important.

Solution

By default, a customer’s browser settings determine your Ecwid storefront language. You can enable or disable built-in Ecwid languages, or make your store always display in one language.

In my case, I needed both automated translation and manual switching to three languages. I decided to go to the Ecwid App Market.

Translatable Product and Category Descriptions

First, I installed the Translatable Product and Category Descriptions app. It allows you to add product descriptions in different languages. This app uses shortcodes or language blocks. They are used to show language-specific content to your store visitors. They look like this:

[lang=”en”]Your description here[/lang]

“Your description here” — here’s where I put product descriptions in English, German, and Russian. Then I added the three blocks in the description field in Ecwid.

multilingual product descriptions

The description in this language block is shown only to people whose browser’s language is German

Even though the store now was multilingual, it detected the browser’s language and showed one of the three descriptions automatically. Not exactly what my customers wanted.

Switching to the Tabber app

I tried the Tabber app that adds tabs to the product descriptions. It uses shortcodes that look like this:

[tab name=Your text]

“Your text” — here’s where I put languages’ names. The description itself comes after the shortcode. You can place tabs under the product image, in the sidebar, or across the bottom. I prefer the latter option.

So I put three different descriptions in separate tabs for every product in the store. Thanks to the tabs, my descriptions don’t look messy. Tabs are responsive, so they adapt to the screen width. You can also choose a tab theme and customize it.

multilingual product descriptions 2

Start a new tab in your product description by adding the special short code

The Result

I’ve reopened my store and already got positive feedback, and sales keep coming in. Now my customers can read the product descriptions in any language. When they look through the products in the store, they can manually choose the language of the product description.

This is how the product description looks now

Hopefully, my experience will help you to build a multilingual store that customers all over the world find convenient to use. As you see, being creative with apps and solutions helps even in tricky cases. Good luck!

Also read: International Business Online: How to Start Selling Globally

About the author
Yana is a blogger, illustrator, designer, and Ecwid entrepreneur. Learn more about Yana's story and artworks on her website.