Nov 05, 2013

Hippo – Choosing a Content Management System for Localization

Matthew Bolanos

Matthew Bolanos

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Offering localized content is a key requirement for content management systems (CMS). In the first post in this series I explored different localization features and now I’m looking at different CMSs. Previously I looked at WordPress and Drupal and this time it’s Hippo.

Unlike the past two content management systems, Hippo has all of its localization features baked right into the product. This means you, as the developer, do not have to worry about installing various plugins. It also means there is a single standardized way of delivering multilingual content on a site running on Hippo, something that cannot be said for other CMSs.

Hippo implements its localization feature using the multi-node model. Unfortunately, the relations between translated pages are very weak, resulting in problems with synchronizing content. It is entirely up to the translators to maintain data integrity.

It also does not provide much support for taxonomies. Instead of providing a means to translate a taxonomy term into multiple languages, Hippo requires users to maintain multiple sets of taxonomies for different languages.

Hippo’s concept of channels, however, is where it truly shines. Channels are essentially different avenues by which content can be served up to users. This includes generating different layouts for devices (mobile, tablet, web), connecting the site to a Facebook page, and even generating a public API. Most important to us, however, is the ability to create different channels for each locality.

This feature may appear trivial because all of the other CMSs have also provided support for localized themes. Hippo goes one step further, however, by building this functionality right into the management console. Admins are able to create new channels with only a few clicks, and then they can personalize the user experience of each by dragging and dropping components within the template composer. Both of these features put less strain on the developer and allow administrators to further customize a site for emerging channels after the development cycle has already been completed.

The enterprise version of Hippo also comes packaged with the Hippo Relevance Module. While not directly related to localization, the Relevance Module helps further personalize a site in order for users to feel as though the site was designed specifically for them. It can serve up unique content based on the visitors’ personalized history (purchase history, frequented pages) or their current situation (location, time of day, weather). Additionally, the Relevance Module allows marketing teams to create personas to target precise sections of the market.

Below are the pros and cons of using Hippo:


– Individual workflows are supported

– Content can be easily switched between languages within the console

– Notifications are sent to translators whenever content is updated

– Integration with Google Translate for machine translation is provided

– Channel support provides robust theme localization support

– Relevance Module provides another level of personalization


– Taxonomies cannot be translated

– There is no support for synchronizing UND data

– Hippo does not integrate with any professional translation service

– XLIFF is not supported

Hippo CMS is far from perfect, and developers looking for a fully packaged multilingual CMS should probably look elsewhere. Hippo does, however, have some very unique features. Most notably, the Relevance Module works at the individual level to improve the quality of a site in order to create an even more personable environment.

Have any questions, comments or concerns? Feel free to leave a comment below. Next time and I will discuss some of the additional features that come packaged with enterprise systems like Ektron and Ingeniux.

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