In my humble opinion …
Let’s take as an example the web site of an international
organization. The web site users will arrive from several countries.
As soon as they reach the web site they are welcomed with a sort of
“international” page where the users can find a selector (a link, a
flag, etc.) for their own language.
The users click on the language selector and the web site pages
characterized by the selected language are pulled out the database and
shown to the user. Obviously also the menu system and the other
non-page components should also be shown to the user in the proper
language (the user-selected one).
When the admin enters a page content, he specifies the language of the
page too, and the page with the language attribute is saved to the
database. If a second or third language version of the saved page is
required (because the web site supports for example two or three
languages), the site admin will enter a second and a third version, in
the proper language, of the same original content of the page. The
same is true for the menu system and other non-page components of the
The administrative interface language can be chosen by the site admin
(although I think this is optional and low priority, because we can
assume as first cut that the admin can understand and work let’s say
In my opinion a site multilanguage capability is a key success factor
because the Internet is “multilingual” (universal, international) in
its nature, and visitors of a web site, as you have experienced, may
come from everywhere and should be served, if deemed important (for
example for marketing reasons), in their native language.