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About Internet Society

Building Our New Website: A video about the user experience of multilingual websites

How do you build a multilingual website? What are the things you should be thinking about? In my last post in this series, I wrote about our need for a multilingual editor (and we now have some GREAT candidates!). But there’s obviously much more to a site than just having a person on board. This week, Joly MacFie of our New York Chapter pointed me to this excellent video from the recent WordCamp Helsinki 2017 event titled “The User Experience Perspective of Multilingual and Multi-regional Websites“:

What I like about this is how the speaker, Thomas Hurd, lays out the different options in how to build a multilingual site and explores the overall strategy you need to think about for a multilingual site. The video does not dive into the technology as much as it raises the larger issues you need to consider. It’s easy to understand even if you don’t know much at all about WordPress or multilingual sites in general.

For the record, right now we’re pursuing the option he calls “Non-specific content, Multiple languages”. We are also planning to continue what we are doing today with using directories off of the URL for each language. In other words, we’ll have:

  • dev.internetsociety.org   – the English pages
  • dev.internetsociety.org/es/  – the Spanish pages
  • dev.internetsociety.org/fr/   – the French pages

We agree with Thomas Hurd that this is one of the best methods for the user experience.

From a technical perspective, we are planning to implement the multilingual aspects of the site using the WPML plugin for WordPress.

Oh, and we’re NOT using flags!

If you are interested in helping us build this new multilingual site, consider applying for the Multilingual Editor position. I’m already interviewing people who have applied, but new candidates are welcome.

P.S. This article is part of our series on our website redesign in 2017. Please do follow along on our journey!

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About Internet Society

Building Our New Website: Seeking a Multilingual Editor to help us speak more globally

Our current website is a multilingual embarrassment.

Have you looked at our French home page lately? Or Spanish? Or Russian? Chinese? Arabic?

You probably haven’t, according to our website statistics, and for a good reason: those home pages have not changed much in 2 years! 

They all still show an image that we used on our English-language home page two years ago. The events are outdated. The feature boxes are old. The “news” is old. The menus are no longer synchronized with the main English home page.

And if you follow links from those home pages, you will find that you soon run out of pages in those languages. What we have is more of a “facade” for each language.

In truth we should just take those pages down – and I may do that soon.

The original intent was an excellent one: make our website content available in all six United Nations languages.

But the result we have today shows a fundamental truth about multilingual websites:

  • One-time translation is simple – maintaining the translated content over time is the challenging part!

It’s relatively “easy” to translate a page or a set of pages once. We can send them to a translation firm. We can ask staff to help. In our case we can ask our Chapters in a particular region to help.

And this can work for individual reports. Or tutorials. Or other static pages.

But it does NOT work for a dynamic website where we are publishing new content on a daily basis.

Stepping Back – and Doing It Right

As a global organization with 120+ chapters and tens of thousands of individual members scattered around the world, we know that our website content must be available in more than just English.

To deliver on the vision of our new website having global impact, we have had to step back and take a hard look at how we support multiple languages on our main site.

The critical point is that we must deliver more than a “facade.” The versions of the site in other languages need to be strong and in sync with the English site as much as possible.

Early on in the website redesign process, we realized that to do this right we need at least one person dedicated to ensuring synchronization between the languages. Someone who makes sure the home pages and menus are updated. Someone who can ensure that when we publish news in English, we also publish information in other languages.

More than that, we need a person who is bringing in content from other languages. Our site cannot just be English content translated into, say, Spanish. It should also include Spanish content that is translated into English.

Starting Slowly

Adding a person (or multiple people) like this into our communications team and editorial workflow is something new. We need to prove to ourselves that this model will work.

And so we’re starting slowly. As we bring the new website online over the next few months, we are going to start with French and Spanish. These two languages cover significant areas of the world where we have members and chapters. I also believe there is a high probability we can find someone who is fluent in BOTH French and Spanish, as well as English.

If you think you are a good fit for this role, or you know someone who might be, our Multilingual Editor job description is now posted online with more details. We’re accepting applications now and will continue until we fill the role.

Please note – this is a 12-month contract position. We want to prove that this model of working on a multilingual site will work.

In the best case, we’ll find that this model works and we’ll look to continue it. And, if it works, we will probably want to add additional Multilingual Editors in 2018 and beyond to cover more languages.

However, we may find that the model doesn’t work and that we need to try a different approach. This position may end at that time.

So we’re looking for someone willing to join us on this adventure and help us find a good path forward.

Apply Now

To learn more about the responsibilites and qualifications, please read the listing for the 12-month Multilingual Editor position. Do note that we are building our new site on WordPress and using the WPML plugin. Experience with WPML would be a huge plus.

We are looking, too, for someone excited to work in a fast-paced environment. When we have news that needs to go out, we’ll be looking for this person to help us get that news out in French and Spanish. Sometimes we will have plenty of lead time – other times we are publishing right in the moment. The ability to work quickly and with the rest of the team will be critical.

Instructions on how to apply can be found in the position description.  We’re eager to get started – and we need someone on board soon to help with our website redesign over the next few months.

Please do me a favor, though. If you are not fluent in all three languages (English, French and Spanish), in both written and spoken communication, please do not bother applying. Someday we might be in a position to have editors for each language, but that is not today.

I’m excited to try this new model for a multilingual website. Please help us reach more people in more languages by either applying yourself – or sharing this information with others who might be a good fit. Thank you!

P.S. This article is part of our series on our website redesign in 2017. Please do follow along on our journey!

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About Internet Society

Building Our New Website: A vision for the new site

In the early stages of our process to build a new Internet Society website, we developed a “vision” for what we wanted the new website to be. Last year we spoke with many people throughout the larger Internet Society community. We spoke with staff, with Chapter leaders, with partner organizations, with individual members and many more.

As we launch the “beta” of the new website this week, I want to share with you the vision that emerged out of all of those aspirations:


Our website is a driving force in realizing our mission of an open Internet for everyone. It empowers all who care about a free and safe Internet and inspires action to make a positive difference.

It demonstrates our global impact, promotes our point of view, and provides definitive resources on the news, technologies, and policies that shape the Internet – today and tomorrow.

It delivers a focused and engaging experience that connects with a breadth of individuals, organizations and influencers. It extends our reach, supports our community, and grows our membership, creating a foundation for building a stronger Internet.


What do you think of that? Does that resonate with you? Does that sound like guiding principles for an Internet Society website?

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About Internet Society

Building Our New Website: Announcing our public “Beta” launch – view the new site today

Today I’m excited to give you a glimpse into our future! As James Wood recently wrote, we have been working on a new website that makes it tremendously easier to find information and take action on issues important to you. I also shared the vision we have for this new site.

The big news is this: we have now released an “early beta” version of the new site that shows the overall design direction and look-and-feel. It is important to note: Most of the site is INCOMPLETE. Most links will not work and many pages are missing.

The feedback we seek right now includes the questions:

  • Does the overall design work for you in your region?
  • Do you have any comments about what you see so far?

Many technical aspects of the site will be changing as will much of the content. With that in mind, here it is:

https://beta.internetsociety.org/

You can view the site on either your desktop/laptop or on mobile devices.

As you can see, the new site is very different from today’s site. Our goal is to make it simpler, easier-to-use and more action-oriented. Beyond the home page, here are a few other pages to explore to get a sense of where we are going:

  • the news page – and the various articles. I’ll write more in a future post about where we are going with “news” in the new site.
  • the Asia Pacific Regional page. This was an example of a “region” that we built. We still need to work with our Asia Pacific Regional Bureau to update the content… so ignore the specific content and look more at how it is organized.
  • the “About the Internet” page. This is an example of the type of “special” page that will be possible in the new site.
  • the “About the Internet Society” page. This is where many of the pieces of information that were previously found in some of the menus will now be found. You get to this page from a link in the footer.

There are a few other pages on the beta site right now that you can find through your exploration. We will be developing “in the open” from this point forward, and will be updating this beta site periodically with both new designs and content.

Providing Your Feedback

With this beta launch, we are also providing a public mechanism for you to leave your comments. We have opened up a Github repository where we are asking people to use the “issue tracker” to leave comments:

https://github.com/InternetSociety/beta-site-feedback

This provides a public, transparent mechanism where anyone can leave comments, respond to other comments – and see how we are responding to various comments.

We welcome you to leave your feedback there. It does require that you have a Github account (you can create a free account), but the advantage is that it is an easy-to-use issue tracker on a site where many people already have accounts. I and another colleague will be the primary ones responding to feedback, but our development team will also be able to easily read the feedback. If you do not wish to create a Github account, you can also send me email, but I would prefer comments be left in the issue tracker.

Known Issues

As noted above, this is an “early beta” of the site. In fact, you might say it is a “very early beta” or even an “alpha” version. There are many known issues, including:

  • Most links do not work.
  • Many more pages need to be added.
  • The URL structure will change.
  • The items in the menus will change slightly as we adjust them.
  • Images have not yet been optimized for low-bandwidth connections.
  • The mobile interfaces need further development.
  • Accessibility testing has not yet been performed.
  • Social media sharing icons do not yet appear on the left side of pages.
  • The filtering function on the news page is not yet implemented.
  • The search function is not yet implemented.

Our main goal right now is to give you an initial view of where we are going with the site and to get any initial feedback.

Future Beta Periods

Over the next weeks and months we will be creating the new content and migrating content from the existing Internet Society website. There will be additional points at which we will be seeking feedback, including:

  • ACCESSIBILITY TESTING – our site is planned to meet WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility guidelines. When ready, we will be seeking testing/feedback on the work we have done.
  • BANDWIDTH TESTING – we are targeting the site to work over mobile devices on 3G connections. At a point in the development we will be seeking people to help us test how well it works on lower-bandwidth connections.
  • MULTILINGUAL TESTING – later in July or August we will be bringing on the French and Spanish versions of the site. We will be seeking feedback from the community about how well those versions work in their regions.

We will provide updates when specific feedback is requested.

Continuing The Journey

With this beta site online, we now begin the challenging work of creating the new content, migrating content from the current site, and determining what to do with some of the content we choose not to migrate. My next few months will be spent with an enormous spreadsheet and working with our great team to make this a reality.

Being who I am, I will also be writing about this journey over the weeks and months ahead. Look for future blog posts from me explaining why we are making some of the changes; what some of the important new features are; what choice we made for our content management system (CMS) – and why; and so much more. I want to share more with you so that you can understand where we are going – and so that you can provide your feedback about what we are doing.

Watch for those blog posts – and join us in the journey to our new website!

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About Internet Society

Transforming the Internet Society’s web presence

Have you struggled to find information on our current website? Have you found it difficult to know what actions you can take on important issues such as connecting the unconnected and building trust on the Internet?

You are not alone.

In one of the most visible and important changes we are making this year, we are working hard on giving our website a deep refresh.  We are building it to be a direct vehicle for action. We are redesigning it from the ground up to help us achieve our objective of connecting everyone, everywhere to a globally connected, trusted Internet.

It will look different, it will feel different, it will be more accessible and will be more aligned with this strategic goal.

Through a process that has involved many across our community and beyond, we have already made many important changes that will help to sustain us into the future. We have changed the way we look; we are being more outspoken on key issues; and we are urging action on the things we believe matter most to the Internet and the people that use it.

This is all part of how we are expanding our sphere of influence and becoming a more influential voice for the open, trusted Internet we believe in.

We are at a key moment in building a new website for the Internet Society. As part of the website development process that is underway right now, we want to hear from you. We plan to develop ‘in the open’, allowing us to gather your feedback to construct a website that best serves the interests of the Internet Society and its community.

We want to hear your thoughts as we strengthen our web presence for the future and you will be hearing more about how you can directly get involved shortly.

Together, we look forward to building a better website for a new Internet Society.