I don't know about cultural sensitivities; best that you start talking
to Islamic people and your specific audience as early as possible! I've
got a couple of Islamic friends and they've never mentioned any
deep-seated resentment of the internet, except a general awareness of
how american and anglo it can be. I've worked with Islamic people on
some simple community work, and found a huge range of cultural
preferences concerning formality of dress and speech, etc. I wouldn't
assume anything about cultural preferences without asking first.

I can say that creating a controlled vocabularly is important: you'll
need to determine the precise mapping between various labels and
instructions before you can design and develop a navigation structure
and labels on controls etc. Whilst you can source content from different
database tables specific to the language, sourcing the labels for
controls and navigation may come from a different part of the
application. You'll also have to closely control the character encoding
and language for both browser display and for search engines.

In my experience, multilingual websites involve: sub-directories for
images and css for different languages, different records for langauge
specific content, look-up tables for cross-language searching, language
and geo-targeting for active detection of language preference, a source
for navigation and control labels, a multi-lingual data source for error
messages, page and character encoding, different time and date formats
and the possibility that you have a user from one language group
accessing from a computer that appears to be from another language group
(so, user control of language and geo-targeting configuration).


Paul Minty Director

mintleaf studio 
We design & create stylish websites

Post: Box 6 108 Flinders Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Level 2 108 Flinders Street Melbourne
T. 03 9662 9344   
F. 03 9662 9255   
M. 0418 307 475

-----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of Andrew Harris
Sent: Friday, 2 November 2007 10:46 AM
Subject: [WSG] multilingual website advice

Hi all,
I've been asked to work on a multilingual website - including rtl
I've done bits and pieces before, but always other languages in
predominantly english websites.

Although I see the problems as mainly technical, I'm getting vibes from
others in the team about some mysterious 'cultural sensitivities'
that we'll have to consider as the audience in this case includes the
Islamic community. Perhaps foolishly, I had assumed that a sensibly
designed website, free of pr0n ads and political cartoons, would be
acceptable in most cultures, but maybe I'm just naive.

I'm asking for any gems of wisdom - links or first hand advice, mostly
technical, but anything that deals with the pitfalls in building arabic
websites would be great.

(I should point out the obvious one, we will be engaging native speakers
and expert editors - not simply relying on babelfish ;-)

Thanks in advance.

Andrew Harris

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