I've had some experience with creating multilingual web sites and their admin panels. I am now in the search of the ultimate way to represent multilingual fields. I'm not trying to satisfy a ceratain use-case but trying to bump the few current "standard" ways to something more innovative

Example scenario: The editor(user) must create an article that supports 3 languages: German, English, French.

Problems that need addressing

  • Maintaining easy access and if possible constant view of the original text ( text in the default language)
  • If having all languages in single form in which the inputs for some of the languages are hidden then how should the errors be displayed while still being clear to the user that something's wrong.

The "standard" ways, common attempts that I've encountered for for dealing with this:

  1. A tabbed page (or using "accordion" collapsing) where each tab is a language. Main problems:
    • That limits navigability when the page needs tabs for any other reason.
    • Also the user must constantly switch tabs to see what is the original text.
  2. Have the user write the entire article in 1 language. Then when the language in the CMS admin panel is changed the article can be translated into that language. Main problems:
    • Can't see the original text without opening another window in the original language.
    • The user might simply need to copy and paste text while not knowing all the languages. The required switch will cause quite the confusion.
  3. Fields for each language below each other. Main problems:
    • Looks overwhelmingly cluttered especially on large forms

Users seem to find option 3) the easiest to use. However I think there should be a better method.

Any ideas?

PS: I've been looking to do something similar to roundabout jquery plugin implementation for form selection. Where instead of text the input fields for the different languages will be rotating?

Update 1

I'm still looking for a solution. As updated in the first paragraph I'm not trying to satisfy a ceratain use-case but trying to bump the few current "standard" ways to something more innovative - see:

Editing form in default language Editing form in alternative language

  • Will users be performing translation in-situ or will they already have the different versions of the articles when the reach the 'add post' page? Commented Nov 3, 2012 at 20:42
  • Both. People will translate online for the languages they know (for example, English would most likely translated by the admin user) but for the rest of the languages the text would be out-sourced to an agency.
    – antitoxic
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 11:51
  • @antitoxic i like your design. Do you have a demo somewhere? Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


When I used to work in translations, I found this type of layout very convenient:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • Ok, but needs to me modded to work for large form with multiple inputs, and more then 2 languages? So far most commonly in non-english countries large sites are translated into 2 other languages like English and German.
    – antitoxic
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 11:53
  • It seems to me like you're trying to have the cake and eat it too. You can't have both a convenient layout, many languages and many fields at the same time. Besides, I thought you were talking about articles... Why multiple inputs then? You can turn "Language B" and "C" into dropdowns (/radio buttons) allowing to switch to additional languages. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 20:57
  • I've updated the article to better explain my question which is utopic. I've also added images for one concept of mine. I would be happy for any comments.
    – antitoxic
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 23:17

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