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Guide to International Content Management Systems

Guide to International Content Management Systems


Expanding your business abroad is a major undertaking and the process presents huge challenges for businesses. There is a mind-boggling array of systems, which all have advantages and disadvantages – presenting marketing professionals with difficult choices.

There are many different content management systems available on the market. For example, the Wikipedia page for CMS lists over 150 providers. Some of these CMS providers are dependent on the platform (operating system) and/or database that powers your site, but some are platform independent (or cross-platform), meaning that they can run on any operating system or database.

While there are many aspects of your website and CMS to consider when operating in global markets, we’ve identified seven features which are critical to launching and managing a successful localised website.

Important CMS functionality for localised websites

  1. Multi-language support

    This goes without saying. In order to successfully launch your brand into overseas territories you need to ensure that your CMS can support content in the languages spoken in the target region.

    As well as the front-end (user interface) of your website being displayed in the target language, it is also important that the back-end (website administration) tools have multi-language support. The reason for this is that it is always best to use native-speakers of the target language to create content for your localised website. These staff members may prefer working in their native language or may simply be more efficient doing so.

  2. Multisite support

    While there may be valid reasons for launching multi-language versions of your website on your main domain (for instance if your target region is located relatively close geographically to your domestic market) – it is likely that you may require a subdomain or even a completely different domain for your localised site. So it is critical that your CMS can support multiple sites on different domains.

    This is even more important in markets like China where the dominant search engine prefers Chinese country code top level domains (e.g. example.cn) and achieving good search engine rankings is difficult or impossible without multisite support.

  3. Multiple theme support

    In many cases, your domestic site design may be suitable for your localised multi-language site, however, using the same design may present issues and affect your business’ ability to succeed in the target market.

    For instance, the colours used on your website template may not be suitable for your localised site. For example you may use a lot of green in your site design, which is associated with the environment and nature in the West but is recognised as a “forbidden colour” in Indonesia, and is best avoided in web design intended for the Indonesian market.

    Similarly, right-to-left languages such as Arabic or Hebrew may present issues if attempting to display content in these languages in a design intended for left-to-right languages such as English or French. Speakers of right-to-left languages will naturally read your site starting at the top right-hand corner in the same way that an English speaker would start at the top left-hand side. So your logo should be presented in the top right-hand corner for right-to-left languages and your primary navigation should also start on the right and progress leftwards.

  4. API or translation workflow management support

    If your website is large, or includes content that requires regular updates, then the CMS you select will require an API or translation management workflow support. This is so that content that requires modification can be efficiently identified and delivered to your language service provider or translators for translation.

    Similarly, once your content is translated, an API or translation workflow management system will allow this content to be delivered back into your CMS without the need for staff to insert the content manually. This leads of improved accuracy and efficiency which allows your business to cut costs and reduce time to market for new content, product and services.

  5. A/B split and multivariate testing support

    Consumer behaviour in your target market may be radically different from customers within your domestic market. As a result, you will need to test a variety of concepts such as your website layout, images, messages and even colours. A CMS that supports split content and multivariate testing is crucial in identifying the right colours, images, messages etc. that lead to the most favourable business outcomes such as online enquiries or sales.

  6. Mobile website support

    Your CMS will also need to be able to support a mobile-friendly version of your site. In many global markets including many countries in Asia, Africa and South America, mobile internet access is more common than desktop access as mobile proliferation is high and the costs of maintaining fixed internet lines prohibitive. Also, in many of these countries, high-speed internet access is limited and/or expensive so stripped down versions of the site are required to ensure that the site loads relatively quickly. In these markets, having a mobile optimised website will increase the likelihood that your localised website will be a success.

  7. Geolocation detection

    Geography has always played a crucial role in marketing to consumers in the offline “real” world but now, with the use of GPS on mobile devices, HTML5 or IP based geo-location, it is possible to tailor products and services to users in the online “virtual” world too.

    When users arrive at your site, instead of forcing them to seek out the language switcher or make them change the currency – you can provide a seamless user experience by prompting these users with a message and allowing them to easily specify their geographical, language and currency preferences.

    As a result, a CMS that has the ability to identify where someone is and personalise their online experience is going to be crucial for global success.

Types of CMS

The cost of a CMS can run from anything from free up to millions of dollars to implement, licence and maintain. Here we’ve split the relevant systems into ones that are free, ones that cost up to $250,000 to implement and licence (mid-level) and ones over $250,000 (enterprise-level).

Additionally, depending on the nature of your business, some CMSs are more suitable than others. The majority of corporate websites can be categorised as eCommerce websites (sites that provide access to products that can be bought online), blogs or informational sites (sites that publish articles and news on a regular basis) and brochure or corporate brand sites (sites that display information about a company without transactional eCommerce functionality). So this report will identify suitable CMS options for each of these types of site.

Since there are so many CMSs available, this report will focus on the platforms that deliver the best functionality for the development of localised multilanguage websites either built in or via extensions and plugins.

Important functionality for eCommerce websites

If your business is in the retail sector, it is likely that your website will be used to not only advertise your products and services but also allow your customers to buy these goods and services online. Below are some options for eCommerce platforms suitable for multilingual eCommerce websites.

In addition to the seven aspects mentioned above, eCommerce CMS platforms should also provide:

  1. Multicurrency support

    Customers within your overseas target market are going to want to see prices in the local currency, even if they’re happy consuming content in the source language. For instance, visitors from the USA to a UK eCommerce site would prefer to have pricing for goods available in dollars.

    Having multicurrency support creates a superior user experience as customers don’t have to calculate the exchange rate themselves – which often involves them visiting a currency conversion website or using a calculator. Businesses that support multiple currencies on their eCommerce stores experience higher conversion rates in their target regions.

  2. Local payment methods

    While debit and credit card payment methods such as Visa and Mastercard are ubiquitous, they will not always the preferred method of payment in your target region. For instance, 60% of payments in Holland are made via a direct debit system, 50% in Czech Republic are made via cash on delivery and 46% of Germans use online banking transfers when they buy online. 70% of Chinese customers also prefer to pay cash on delivery.

    By ensuring that you conduct research on the preferred payment methods in the target country and ensure the provision of these payment methods on your eCommerce website, you are more likely to succeed.

  3. International shipping

    Suffice to say that in your eCommerce business can only sell to international customers if you offer to ship your goods to the target customer’s door. Cross-border shipping is more expensive and more complex than domestic package handling. Plus international customers like to know how much their shipping add to the price of goods.

    So, your eCommerce site should have clear options for international shipping, transparent pricing and provide accurate estimates of when customers can expect to receive their goods.

Free eCommerce platforms


Prestashop is a free, open source eCommerce platform with a lot of features. The software powers over 100,000 eCommerce stores worldwide. Prestashop, which is written in PHP and based on the Smarty template engine, is currently used by more than 135,000 shops worldwide. MySQL is Prestashop’s default database engine so Prestashop is best suited to a LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) environment.

PrestaShop's administration panel is quite intuitive and easy to master. It's especially important for those who have limited experience managing multi-language eCommerce stores. There's also a large group of users contributing to their support system on discussion boards and forums, which is very useful for users and developers alike.

Since, the script is based on Smarty, it's well-known to many designers and programmers. This means it’s relatively easy and cost-effective to make graphics modifications to the site. PrestaShop is also very efficient and does not place high demands on server resources, especially with the functionality the system has to offer.

Prestashop is supported by an active online community and many developers create plugins for the platform. Developers have created plugins for almost any purpose including for SEO, display ads, rewards and loyalty programmes, social media integration and email marketing integration with systems such as MailChimp. A full list of available Prestashop plugins can be found on their addons page.

The Prestashop includes multi-language support. You can easily add more languages to your PrestaShop ecommerce website by simply downloading the required language pack file (in .gzip format) from the PrestaShop official website. There are no limits to the number of languages that Prestashop can support. The back-end administration interface is currently translated into 56 languages, however, only English and French have full support in all release versions.

PrestaShop supports multiple websites with a facility known as "multistore". This means that it is possible to manage multiple ecommerce stores from the same back office.

The multistore functionality supports multiple stores on a single domain, on different subdomains or even on different domains, making it ideal for launching localised ecommerce sites in different territories and languages. Similarly, each store can have its own theme allowing localised site templates for each locale.

API/Translation management
Prestashop has its own API that allows you to create, read, update and delete content using an external web service. This means that although Prestashop doesn’t provide translation management tools out of the box, it is possible to integrate the software with your language service provider’s back end systems with a little development making it possible to easily manage your translation requirements.

A/B split and multivariate testing
Prestashop doesn’t offer testing functionality as part of the core package, however, there are plugins available to allow you to introduce A/B testing such as Convert. For more sophisticated multivariate testing, users of Prestashop would need to look at an external product. For instance, for users of Google Analytics it is possible to set up experiments using the ‘Content Experiments’ function. Alternatively, users could implement Visual Website Optimizer – a third-party service that allows for content optimisation experimentation regardless of which platform or technology your website is being run on.

Mobile website
Prestashop offers mobile device detection as part of its core functionality. It is possible to integrate both a responsive website design as part of the Prestashop theme or to redirect users to a mobile-friendly version of your Prestashop store if they visit the site using a mobile device.

Geolocation detection
Prestashop doesn’t have geolocation functionality built into it, there are many modules available that use IP-based geolocation to identify the user’s location in order to deliver content with the appropriate language and currency.

PrestaShop can support a large number of currencies. By default, Prestashop supports only one standard currency: the one for your country. However, you can add and configure new currencies depending on your business requirements.

Payment methods
Prestashop supports many SSL and access to over 160 payment gateways such as Google Checkout, Authorize.Net, Skrill, PayPal and PayPal Payments Pro via their respective APIs. PrestaShop also allows you to create an unlimited number of currencies to display on the store and set tax rules and guidelines according to your country – making it ideal for managing your inventory centrally.

Shipping methods
The system allows you to set up multiple shipping methods and allows you to set up different shipping handling costs for each shipping provider as specified by the user.

There are some distinct disadvantages to Prestashop. Prestashop programmers release bug fixes and new scripts about twice a month. An update is required to resolve security issues. Unfortunately applying these fixes takes considerable know-how. Releasing these bug fixes makes it known to developers what kind of vulnerabilities there are in older versions.

So, unscrupulous developers or hackers may use this information to attack Prestashop sites that are working on older versions - presenting a huge security risk for businesses that don’t keep their systems up-to-date. These frequent fix releases are also a pain for the business owners. Unfortunately, Prestashop does not offer automatic updates which would potentially resolve issues of applying bug fixes manually.

Prestashop also does not scale particularly well and developers are sometimes presented with issues when attempting to further develop the software due to the restrictive nature of the script architecture.

Finally, if your business has little technical expertise in-house, and you require bespoke changes to the Prestashop system then you will be required to work with a developer or agency with PHP/MySQL development skills or pay for Prestashop support which costs from €400 to around €2000 a year depending on the level of support required.


Magento is a professional open-source ecommerce solution that offers merchants complete flexibility and control over the look and feel as well as functionality of their ecommerce store. Magento offer a community version which is free to use, but also offer an enterprise edition which includes the support of an expert team of Magento consultants.

When Magento was released in 2008, it transformed the ecommerce market. In a period of 18 months, Magento surpassed one million downloads and now records billions of dollars of transactions worldwide by tens of thousands of merchants. Purchased by eBay in early 2011, it continues to be the fastest growing ecommerce platform in the world.

There are lots of reasons why Magento is so popular. It has a range of features which are important to businesses operating ecommerce stores locally and internationally.

Multi-language / multi-site / multi-theme
The Magento back end interface has been translated into over 80 languages. Magento also scales well to support multi-store retailing with the capacity to run separate websites on different domains or subdomains and in the different languages supported. The system also supports different themes for each locale.

API/Translation Management
Magento has a fully functioning API which allows site owners to integrate the software into a vast array of external systems. This means that with some bespoke development, it is possible to integrate the system with an organisation’s selected language service provider – allowing for content in the CMS to be translated and inserted with minimal effort. There are many plugins that offer integration for machine translation tools and APIs such as GoogleTranslate and Bing Translator.

A/B split and multivariate testing
While Magento doesn’t offer A/B split or multivariate testing as part of its core functionality, there are Magento extensions that allow you to perform testing. These include Visual Website Optimizer’s Magento A/B testing extension and Experiment.ly’s Magento extension. These extensions are not free but costs are based on visitor numbers. For instance, Experiment.ly’s extension starts at $27/month for sites with a maximum of 10,000 visitors and increases to around $947/month for the Enterprise package – which supports sites with up to 500,000 visitors.

Mobile website
For sites not utilising responsive design techniques, Magento allows site owners to create a mobile version with its own theme. Setup of the mobile theme is relatively easy and Magento has built-in functionality to detect mobile devices and delivery the appropriate theme to mobile users.

Geolocation detection
Magento might not come with geolocation detection but again, there are a number of extensions that offer geolocation detection which mean that it is possible to automatically display the appropriate website or theme and to present products in the relevant currencies to users in different geographical locations. These facilities, combined with the huge range of ecommerce functionality provided, means that Magento is an extremely powerful tool and very cost-effective for launching and managing international ecommerce sites.

Magento has built-in functionality to allow for multiple currencies. Currency exchange rates can also be set up and managed from the Magento admin interface, allowing the value of goods to be automatically calculated based on the currency selected by the end user.

Payment methods
The system also provides the ability to specify multiple shipping methods and allows you to add shipping carriers to the list which includes UPS, FedEx and DHL by default. Similarly, it is easy to configure multiple payment methods and gateways including Paypal, Sagepay and Google Checkout.

Shipping methods
Similarly, Magento allows site owners to create and manage multiple shipping methods and suppliers with the ability to set up free shipping, flat rate shipping or even a table rate shipping method which lets you calculate shipping rates based on the combination of several conditions, including weight, destination, price and number of items.

There are some disadvantages to using Magento. The software consumes a lot of RAM during heavy processes. Unless you’ve installed Magento on a server with a pretty high spec, the server may have issues handle the load which could result in poor performance.

One of the major disadvantages of Magento is its complexity. A novice user would have to spend a long time learning how to use the system and developers experience a steep learning curve so making any changes to the system often requires a high level of skill.

So, if your business doesn’t have the requirement or resources to hire a web developer or Magento consultant, then you may want to consider Magento’s enterprise edition or an alternative mid- or enterprise-level ecommerce system that requires less bespoke development and provides out-of-the-box functionality for all your business requirements plus expert support if you run into problems.

Mid-level eCommerce platforms


Demandware is a public eCommerce merchant headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 2004 but has since expanded to offices in France and Germany. Demandware has expertise in delivering content management and ecommerce solutions to organisations in the fashion, health and beauty and sporting goods sectors.

Demandware powers more than 160 retailers across more than 665 sites around the globe including Adidas, Clarins, Fila, Lacoste, Lancome, Mothercare, Puma, Quicksilver, L’Oreal and Ugg, Australia.

Demandware supports an extensive set of pre-built customised integrations for a variety of applications. These approved extensions, referred to as “Demandware LINK Cartridges”, are available from the Demandware LINK Marketplace – described by Demandware as a “one-stop-shop for pre-built integrations to Demandware Commerce.”

Demandware claims to be purpose built for globalisation and a single global template allows multiple geographies to manage local languages including support for right-to-left and double-byte character languages.

Multi-site / Multi-theme
Demandware allows site administrators to manage many websites on the same platform. Therefore your localised websites can all be completely different in terms of design and functionality, yet based on common code and common back-end integrations.

API/Translation Management
By utilising the Demandware API, business users can initiate translation workflows directly from the Demandware Commerce interface on an as-needed or scheduled basis. This eliminates the need for manual imports or exports of content which requires translation. The facility also allows for content that has been updated and requires translation to be identified and selected for translation.

By integrating with your language service provider it is possible to ensure that your site is being kept up-to-date with high-quality translations any time that new content is being created or existing content is updated.

A/B split and multivariate testing
The Demandware LINK Marketplace offers a multivariate and split content cartridge created by Maxymiser, a global leader in A/B and multivariate testing solutions. This allows site administrators to easily install the tools required for content testing and with an easy-to-use interface that is well integrated with Demandware’s eCommerce platform, brands that can advantage of the comprehensive conversion management, multivariate testing, content optimisation, personalisation and multi-channel marketing facilities that Maxymiser offers.

Mobile website
The Demandware Live Marketplace also includes a number of cartridges that allow your Demandware eCommerce store to be made into a mobile friendly site. For instance, Mobify - Mobify the mobile technology platform that converts existing websites and e-commerce websites into optimised versions for mobile phones and tablets – offer a cartridge on the Demandware Live Marketplace.

Furthermore, a Demandware project known as “Mobile Touch App” exists (currently in beta) that allows your Demandware eCommerce website to be easily converted into a mobile hybrid app that blends a mobile website (mobile web) with a native mobile application.

This way brands can achieve similar if not the same experience on the mobile web as they could in native apps. The mobile hybrid app explores those possibilities and can be viewed on any device with an Apple WebKit enabled browser, including Apple iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod), Android and BlackBerry (OS6).

Geolocation detection
Demandware offers a geolocation facility as well as an integrated global content deliver solution to ensure that your localised website loads quickly for users in your target region by redirecting them to servers located closer to their geographical region.

The Demandware platform supports international pricing requirements, including multiple currencies and tax systems as part of its “Currency Manager” function– but also integrates with a number of third-party currency management cartridges.

For instance, the 200Markets+ Foreign Currency Manager is a component of the 200Markets+ Demandware LINK Cartridge which provides functionality within Demandware to allow shoppers to view all pricing information and make payments in their localised currency. The tool allows one or more standardised sites to display over 90 currencies – all with real-time conversion and display.

Payment methods
The Demandware LINK Marketplace offers out-of-the-box integration with many payment suppliers and gateways. Globalcollect offer an online payment platform offers that allows you access to a portfolio of payment methods in over 200 countries and for 170 currencies. The plugin includes customised business rules, online account validation, neural networks to detect suspicious patterns, IP geolocation data and even preliminary checks to identify fraudulent credit card usage. There are also many other payment providers with Demandware cartridges available.

Shipping methods
As you may expect, the Demandware LINK Marketplace also offers integration with a number of fulfilment suppliers – allowing your eCommerce business to deliver goods globally.

For instance, Borderfree Global enables retailers to extend their current ecommerce operations and transact with customers in more than 100 countries and more than 40 currencies worldwide.

And Netrada provides an end-to-end eCommerce solution with local operations in North America, Europe and China. Their SaaS solution TradeGlobal provides full service solution for international shipping. This turn-key solution manages international transactions and logistics with ease.

Like most paid-for eCommerce platforms, a major disadvantage of Demandware is the cost. However, starting at $60,000 a year for the full version, Demandware is fairly competitive with other systems with similar capabilities. Another major disadvantage of Demandware is that because it is a Saas (software as a service) solution, your business essentially rents the system. This means that a lot of the functionality and user experience of your site is dependent on the Demandware platform and therefore doesn’t offer the same levels of customisation available on a hosted system.

Enterprise-level CMS platforms


Sitecore provides enterprise CMS and marketing automation solutions for medium to large enterprises. The company was founded in Denmark in 2001 and has since expanded to open offices in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Sitecore's CMS software is built on Microsoft .NET 3.5/4.0. Content can be stored as XML or .NET objects and Sitecore can use either Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Database for its database storage. Sitecore requires sites to run on a Windows server.

Sitecore offers multi-language functionality as part of its core architecture and multilingual capabilities are integrated into all aspects of the CMS. Its use of UTF-8 encoding and Unicode support means that it can support any language regardless of the character set. Every field on a template can be marked as unique to a specific language or shared across all languages. Furthermore, each language has its own version history making it very easy for multilingual teams to split their workloads and collaborate on projects.

Sitecore allows you to as many sites as you want from a single admin control panel. Rather than treating each site as its own entity, they can benefit from shared content, code and processes which can be delivered across any or all of your sites. This allows you to drastically reduce the effort and resource required to maintaining multiple websites.

Since it’s possible to have multiple websites managed by a single Sitecore backend, with content and functions shared across several sites, multiple themes are available as a matter of course.

API/Translation Management
Sitecore also includes translation management functionality. Translators can be given authenticated access to the Sitecore based website from anywhere in the world allowing content to be translated quickly. Sitecore's workflow process can route content that requires translation to the appropriate translator and includes document comparison functionality to highlight new content requiring translation.

Mobile website
Sitecore offers the ability to automatically detect a visitor’s device and serve content optimised for their device. This allows you to automatically repurpose content into any format you need, from tablet viewing, to smartphones, to RSS feeds and XML.

Geolocation detection
Sitecore utlilises the Maxmind geo-location database to deliver personalised experiences for users depending on their location. This allows you to set the language, currency and even payment and delivery options based on the user’s locale.

Sitecore allows site administrators to create multiple currencies and includes a currency conversion facility that allows you to calculate the price in multiple currencies based on current exchange rates. The system allows for a single master currency which all items are priced in and converts these into the appropriate price for each region/currency on the fly.

Payment methods
The Sitecore eCommerce module supports multiple payment options and these can all be assigned to types of payments and currencies so that users are presented with the appropriate payment options for their locale.

The demo Sitecore eCommerce store displays the payment options below:

  • Amazon — Amazon.com’s online payment service.

  • American Express.

  • Authorize.NET — an international online payment service provider.

  • Master Card

  • Visa

Shipping methods
Sitecore also supports multiple shipping options which can be set up by the user. These include configurable price structures, delivery time specification and even notification options for suppliers that support automated shipping tracking and notification.

The major disadvantage of Sitecore is the cost. With implementations costing upwards of $250,000, many businesses are unable to afford the technology while some others that can meet the expense may have a hard time justifying the cost and achieving ROI.

Another disadvantage of Sitecore is that it is platform dependent. In order to run Sitecore, you would need to have a site that is written in ASP.net, would require a Windows server and a MS SQL or Oracle database. These tend to be more expensive to licence and run than the alternative PHP -based configurations of many open source CMSs. However, that being said, Sitecore does offer support for MySQL databases (the free, open source database from the Oracle Corporation) for the Sitecore Professional, Corporate or Corporate Unlimited Editions.

Sitecore also recommends running the database on a separate server which increases the costs of the hardware required to support the CMS. The organisation also states that you should only use antivirus software that has been certified for Sitecore. They state that “Certain listed products may interfere with the application such as affecting HTTP data streams; Norton Antivirus is one known culprit”.

Adobe Experience Manager

Adobe Experience Manager (previously known as Adobe CQ), is an enterprise web content management system that is developed and sold by Adobe Systems. Originally developed by Day Software, an organisation based in Switzerland, the platform became an integral component of Adobe’s marketing suite when the company acquired Day in 2010. Since then the product has been integrated into Adobe’s Marketing Cloud.

Adobe Experience Manager is designed and marketed specifically to large companies with substantial and often global infrastructures. The system combines web content management, digital asset management, and social collaboration to deliver a solution that allows large companies to manage large amounts of information and complex, detailed workflows.

With one of the most sophisticated content management solutions available, Adobe’s CMS allows for multiple languages to be displayed on your site. The system includes “Streamline Localization” which allows organisations to easily manage large scale content translation projects.

Adobe Experience Manager offers the capability to manage multiple websites in one place. This means that organisations can drastically reduce the time and effort required to manage multiple sites across different regions, languages, and divisions.

You can avoid duplication of efforts by using a single website template for multiple sites, however, for some markets where significant localisation of your website design, content and functionality is required, it is also possible to create and manage separate sites using completely different themes.

API/Translation Management
Adobe Experience Manager integrates Adobe’s Framemaker product into its suite of tools. Framemaker is a authoring and publishing solution that allows content to be exported in XML or DITA format – which makes the tool ideal for managing large scale translation project which require content to be delivered to a language service provider for translation for translation. It is also possible to tag elements with certain values that can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, a “language” attribute can be used to identify whether portions of the source document should not be translated.

A/B split and multivariate testing
Adobe Experience Manager integrates with Adobe Target®, a tool that allows site owners to conduct A/B split and multivariate testing as well as rules-based targeting and personalisation to determine the best performing designs, messages, offers or imagery for your target market or consumer. The tool also offers automated “decisioning and behavioural targeting” to individual visitors using a self-learning algorithmic approach designed to maximise conversion rates. Furthermore, the system also integrates with Adobe Analytics which provides advanced analytics and call-to-action tracking.

Mobile website
The ability to publish content in multiple formats to different devices is at the heart of Adobe Experience Manager’s offering. The system integrates seamlessly with Adobe RoboHelp®, a multichannel, multiscreen authoring tool designed to deliver content to smartphones, iPad and other tablets, as well as desktops using output formats such as multiscreen HTML5, WebHelp, CHM, Adobe® AIR® Help, PDF, eBook and native mobile apps.

Adobe RoboHelp® also improves the efficiency and effectiveness of multilingual translation projects with Unicode support for over 35 languages, the ability to automatically assign the appropriate LANG attribute within translated content and review and collaboration functionality – allowing organisations to further streamline their translation management workflow.

Geolocation detection
Adobe’s strong position within the technology market allows the company to offer its own geolocation API providing a high-level interface to access the geographical location information either through GPS (for mobile devices if enabled) or through fixed line and wireless networks. Geolocation attibutes include latitude, longitude, altitude (with parameters for accuracy) and even speed of movement, for devices on-the-go.

Adobe Experience Manager allows for as many different currencies as site owners would like to support. Each geographical region can also be associated with as many currencies as the site administrator wants to allow.

Payment methods
Adobe Experience Manager supports almost every payment gateway including out-of-the-box support for Paypal, Authorize.net, Realex and Worldpay.

Shipping methods
With every product in Adobe Experience Manager, users are able to configure a superset and subset of shipping methods and costs.

Adobe Experience Manager maintains a strong market position as a result of its product offering. Forrester recently identified Adobe as the market leader in Web Content Management as a result of the truly integrated nature of the Adobe Experience Manager platform.

The only real issue with Adobe Experience Manager is cost. Adobe stated during a recent partner summit that the average agreement for enterprise CMS is $450,000 in license costs with an average total implementation cost of over $2m. As a result, many businesses would not be able to afford such an undertaking.

Free CMS for corporate websites and blogs


WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL . Wordpress is most suitable for blogs and/or smaller websites without transactional ecommerce capabilities (Wordpress doesn’t have ecommerce built in).

Because WordPress works so well for small sites and blogs, it is used by over 14% of Alexa Internet's "top one million" websites and manages 22% of all websites on the internet. WordPress is currently the most popular blogging system in use on the web, powering over 60 million sites worldwide.

Wordpress features include a plug-in architecture and a template system which makes Wordpress extremely easy to develop functionality for and means that there are many plugins available. On the Wordpress website there are currently over 26,000 plugins available for download and these plugins have been downloaded over 480 million times by users and developers.

Wordpress is available in over 70 languages. In order to ensure that the CMS functions in the languages that your users are familiar with you need to download the localised version of Wordpress or download the standard English version and install the appropriate language pack. WordPress works with a range of alphabets, including Cyrillic and Latin but also handles right-to-left written languages such as Arabic.

However, while Wordpress allows supports multiple languages in the sense that the admin user interfaces are translated into the appropriate language of the end user, Wordpress does not have multi-language capabilities for the front-end website built in by default. To launch a truly multilingual site in Wordpress (for example a website that supports English, French and German content), then you need to download a multi-language Wordpress plugin.

There are many multi-language plugins available for Wordpress but the most widely used are qTranslate and WPML.


qTranslate is a free Wordpress plugin that allows pages and posts to be displayed in multiple languages. qTranslate is easy to install by simply visiting the Wordpress plugins page, searching for ‘qTranslate’ and downloading it and activating it within the Wordpress plugins admin page.

By default, qTranslate has three languages configured - English, German and Chinese. More languages can be added or the default languages removed from the admin ‘settings’ menu within the qTranslate plugin. As new languages are added or default languages removed, the options on the left-hand menu shown above will be updated.

Importantly, the qTranslate plugin allows you to determine how your sites will be configured in terms of their URL structures. For instance you can specify whether you would prefer to use query strings (e.g. example.com?lang=en), a subdirectory approach (which qTranslate refers to as Pre-Path Mode – e.g. example.com/en) or a subdomain (which qTranslate calls Pre-Domain Mode e.g. en.example.com). This is important for SEO so having this functionality is extremely useful.

Once you’ve specified your qTranslate settings and languages, the display of the pages and posts within your Wordpress admin will start to look slightly different once the plugin has been activated. New options begin to appear relating to the different language options specified during the setup process.

For instance, the title field is split into the different language versions, allowing you to enter a unique title for every language version. Similarly tabs appear next to the content textfield allowing you to switch between languages in order to enter unique body copy for each language you would like to support.

Additional elements also appear which allow you to add unique page titles and meta content to your pages. Again, you can switch between languages by selecting the appropriate language tab. Page title, meta description and even the meta keyword tags are all supported.

The most significant advantage that qTranslate has over other Wordpress multi-language plugins is cost since qTranslate is completely free. However, the plugin does have some distinct disadvantages.

One major disadvantage of the qTranslate plugin is that while it is possible to add different titles, meta content and body copy for each post or page, the URL always remains in the source language. This is not great for SEO as users in China for instance would be using Chinese script to search for goods and services and not having these key terms in the URL in Chinese script reduces the ability of a site to rank well on Google or Baidu, the popular Chinese search engine.

qTranslate also doesn’t integrate well with certain other Wordpress plugins. For instance, the Wordpress SEO plugin by Yoast has a tough time integrating with qTranslate and for the 5 million users of Yoast, qTranslate may not be the best option. Although there are workarounds to help the plugins integrate, but these may require the skills of a PHP or Wordpress developer.

Another disadvantage of using qTranslate is that the plugin only offers support for a single version of the Chinese language by default – which it refers to as ‘Chinese’. However, it is possible to add new languages within the qTranslate setup.


Unlike qTranslate, the WPML Wordpress multi-language plugin is not free. It costs $29 for the basic version and $79 for the more advanced solution which offers both blog and CMS translation. We will review the functionality of the advanced version for the purpose of this report.

WPML is not as easy to install as qTranslate, simply because you need to pay for the plugin before you’re able to start using it. However, once the plugin has been paid for, you should receive a ZIP file with the plugin code which can simply be transferred into your Wordpress plugins directory (/wp-content/plugins).

Once the plugin has been transferred to the plugin directory, the option to activate the plugin will appear in the Wordpress admin system. The plugin can be activated simply by clicking on the ‘activate’ link next to the plugin in the plugins section of the Wordpress admin.

Just like with qTranslate, WPML has the ability to add/remove languages, specify the URL structure of the site (i.e. subdirectory, subdomain or query string parameter), however, WPML also allows for the sites to operate on a completely different domain (for example example.com and example.co.uk).


The main issue with using Wordpress as a CMS for your multilanguage site is that multilingual capabilities are not included by default and instead require a plugin. Plugins present many of the issues confronted by Wordpress sites. This is because most Wordpress plugins are developed by third-party developers. When Wordpress issues a new release of their CMS, much of the functionality may change when compared with previous versions.

This sometimes means that the plugins that previously worked on older Wordpress versions stop working with the new release. In some cases, the old plugins even stop Wordpress from working at all and the user is required to deactivate them.

Some plugins are released once and never updated. If a user becomes reliant on a plugin but this plugin is not updated as new versions of Wordpress are released, then this may present huge issues for site owners.

Certain core functionality should be supported by your CMS to increase global success

In order to compete in many overseas territories it is important for your CMS to support multiple languages, themes, mobile website support and geo-location detection. For eCommerce stores it is also important to support multiple currencies, payment types and shipping methods.

Your CMS should include a translation management API or workflow to increase success in overseas markets

Managing website translation projects can be complex. Having a system built into your CMS to allow for integration with a language service provider can improve the translations while increasing efficiency.

You get what you pay for

While free CMSs might be really good for very small businesses who can’t afford to pay for a mid-level or enterprise CMS, the more you pay for your CMS and support, the more functionality and support you receive.

Businesses without in-house development expertise should consider CMS support agreements

Content management systems can be very complex to configure and extend with new functionality. If your business doesn’t have the necessary technical skills to successfully set up, manage and maintain your CMS, you should consider a licensing agreement with the CMS provider or development partner.

Yusuf Bhana

Yusuf Bhana is Digital Marketing Manager of TranslateMedia. He has had over 13 years' experience in web development, SEO, paid search, display advertising and online content creation and distribution and has an active interest in all things digital.

Follow Yusuf on Twitter and or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Content Domains Email marketing eCommerce Transcreation Website content Content management systems Social media Mobile apps & websites Systems infrastructure Organic search Social media listening & monitoring Social media community management Multivariate testing Public relations Display advertising Market intelligence tools & data Internal communications Investor relations Print & media advertising Direct marketing

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