In my recent posts I have talked about what Sitecore provides now out-of-the-box to support Language Fallback, an overview of Language Fallback and Enforce Version Presence concepts, and the How Tos for enabling Fallback and configuring it.
That isn't all that you need to know, though! It may be easy to 'turn on', but there are key decisions you need to make, and many questions should have been popping up in your head as you read my posts.
Before digging into the questions, there are a few key definitions you need to keep in mind.
Internationalization: Design your web presence to ensure it meets the needs of users in all of your countries, including language translations. It means equally considering needs for Globalization and Localization.
Globalization: Companies want a global solution that provides a consistent look and brand. The same message should be sent around the globe and they want to manage this centrally and easily.
Localization: Provide the flexibility to customize content, products and message to a locale, while keeping the overarching global strategy in mind.
These definitions seem straightforward enough, but if your company (or client) is a multi-national organization where these definitions matter, then you know making decisions around these is in no way easy! Often there are different groups in your organization with critical goals that are directly in conflict with one another (what corporate wants is different than what the division in Germany wants!).
It is important to understand all of the best practices and strategies that should be discussed during planning, so that the right questions are asked and facts gathered that will enable you to architect and configure a multilingual multi-national Sitecore solution that fits YOUR needs.
Not getting this right the first time will result in costly re-architecture and difficult course correction. Consider scalability, reuse, legal requirements, and how content authors will need to use the platform efficiently and easily.
Listed here are the questions I like to have answered before beginning any new solution that will require a multilingual or multi-country site strategy.
Sitecore Content Strategy
The answers to these questions will provide the direction you will need to architect the right Sitecore implementation for your specific needs. How do you apply those answers to your strategy though? What would someone who has done this often recommend? Myself and Verndale have gone through this many times and have seen different scenarios play out, including long-term repercussions, and can provide some advice and best practices to follow. I'll talk about those in my next post.