How to build a RTL website

Developers will very often need to support RTL after developing an existing site that flows its pages in a Western language that reads left-to-right. Content is the most important thing when developing this kind of site. It’s generally easier to write everything in English first and then find quality translators to rewrite the content in a variety of other languages. English-language translators are often available for pretty much every language, but this cannot be said for most other tongues. Once the content is ready then it should be saved in the most basic format possible.

Designing a Style Sheet

There are two main code segments that anyone who wants to make a RTL website should remember. The one is a basic line that instructs the browser to swap the manner in which it would usually display text:

div {
direction: rtl;

Client systems that have browsers configured to display text this way by default will simply ignore the additional instruction and it won’t cause any problems. Some code, however, will have to be custom tailored to support RTL text on individual browsers that are distributed in Western countries.

Providing Support for Browsers

Fortunately it’s possible for a RTL website to feature a big chunk of code that would provide support for the transformation flip on a number of different browsers. While the preceding text would help to support RTL text on the vast majority of installations, adding the following might help to support those on some other browsers:

.flipText {
display: block;
-moz-transform: scaleX(-1); /*For Gecko*/
-o-transform: scaleX(-1); /*For Opera*/
-webkit-transform: scaleX(-1); /*For webkit installations*/
transform: scaleX(-1); /*The standard method*/
filter: FlipH; /*Explorer Versions 6, 7 and 8*/
-ms-filter: "FlipH";

The developer has fortunately decided to comment as to which line corresponds to which individual particular browser. Try this if users are complaining that text displays as a mirror image for them. It could mean their browsers are ignoring the direction: rtl; style sheet command.

Testing the RTL Display

Anytime an RTL website is finished it has to be tested on as many machines as possible. Those who are developing on their own machines might want to install an additional browser or two to see what their new page will look like on a browser choice that they don’t often use. It’s easy to forget some fringe browsers as well. For instance, a few people continue to use the Microsoft Windows version of Safari, which does provide RTL support and should be tested for.

Receiving Technical Assistance

One of the best ways to support RTL today is to hire out an official developer. It can help those who really don’t have much experience in the field. An increasing number of people have to support internationalized text, which means the demand for this kind of service has risen in the last few years.

If you have no criteria by which to judge developers, check out our list on how to choose wordpress developers for hire. You might need professional assistants to help you out with other wordpress web services as well.