Multilingual WordPress websites

Multilingual solutions for a wordpress

Multilingual web-sites and web-applications. Limiting your business to a single language or expanding it to target users from all over the world could mean the difference between failure and success.

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WordPress does not support a bilingual or multilingual blog out-of-the-box. There are however Plugins developed by the WordPress community which will allow you to create a multilingual blog easily. Choosing the most suitable multilingual Plugin for your needs will take some time. See the WordPress Plugin Directory for a list of multilingual Plugins. In any case, installing a multilingual plugin is a big change for any site. It would be a good idea to first create a test site and verify that everything works correctly between all the required plugins and the theme and only then install.

Multi-language plugin.

A multi-language plugin will provide you with a means to reproduce your content in another language or languages. This could be done post by post – meaning you would manage it manually – or you could go so far as to reproduce your entire site in the target language. Some plugins even offer automatic translation, although the quality of the translation is questionable at this point in time.

WPML

WPML makes it easy to run a multilingual website with a single WordPress install. Choose languages for your site and start translating content. The default install comes with over 40 languages. You can also add your own language variants (like Canadian French or Mexican Spanish) using WPML’s languages editor. You can arrange different language contents in the same domain (in language directories), in sub-domains or in completely different domains.

The plugin provides a language switcher widget with some basic styling options. The widget can be placed in any widget area or in any menu area without any hard coding of the theme. The switcher can display language options as flags or as text. Once you’ve got the plugin set up you can move onto translating your site’s content. Essentially, what WPML will do is generate a new URL for each page or post that will lead the user to the desired language.

Once the URL is generated you have two options:

    1. Allow WPML to automatically translate the content.
    2. Direct WPML to notify a designated editor that content is ready to be translated.

WPML Multilingual E-Commerce

WPML lets you easily build and run multilingual e-commerce sites with WooCommerce. Enjoy complete support for simple and variable products, related products, sales and promotions and everything else that WooCommerce offers. Running a multilingual e-commerce site with WPML is simple. WPML shows you which texts need translation and builds the complete translated store for you. Visitors will enjoy a fully localized purchase process, starting with the product listing, through the cart and checkout and even localized confirmation emails.

WPML frees you from the hassle of editing PO files and uploading MO files. You can translate texts in other plugins and in Admin screens directly from the String Translation interface. You’ll see where the texts come from both in the code and in the site and translate right from within the WordPress Admin panel.


Polylang

Polylang allows you to create a bilingual or multilingual WordPress site. You write posts, pages and create categories and post tags as usual, and then define the language for each of them. The translation of a post, whether it is in the default language or not, is optional. The translation has to be done by the site editor as Polylang does not integrate any automatic or professional translation service.

Each language has its own page and, when requested, Polylang presents the browser with the correct page in the right language. In order for Polylang to do this, you define a language for each page and tell Polylang how to link them together.

Main features

  • You can have as many languages as you want. RTL languages are supported. When available, WordPress languages files are automatically downloaded and updated.
  • You can translate posts, pages, media, categories, post tags, menus, widgets… Custom post types, custom taxonomies, sticky posts and post formats, RSS feeds and all default WordPress widgets are supported.
  • Categories, post tags as well as some other metas are automatically copied when adding a new post or page translation. There is also a possibility to synchronize them between post translations.
  • Support for multisite, pretty permalinks and static front page
  • A language switcher is provided as a widget or in the navigation menus
  • An API is offered to theme and plugins programmers

Google Language Translator

First thing you need to do is install and activate Google Language Translator plugin. After activating the plugin go to Settings » Google Language Translator to configure the plugin. These settings are similar to the settings available for the official Google Translate widget for websites. You can choose a layout for the translate form. Most importantly you need to activate the plugin by checking the box next to Plugin Status and press Update Option button.

Google Translate not only allows your users to read a translated version of your website, but it also allows them to translate your website. This allows your readers to improve the machine translation of any page by suggesting improvements to Google translation. In fact, if you have a good reader base, then you can get your whole website translated by volunteers. Google Translate WordPress Plugin dynamically adds a Google Translate widget to the upper right of your users screen. This will allow visitors to translate your website content to any language.


WordPress Multisite: One website per language

Once the feature is activated on your website, multiple websites can be created from the same WordPress installation. Essentially, one set of WordPress core files powers many websites. Plugins and themes are also shared, however each website has unique directories for media uploads. The same database is also used for all websites, however separate tables are created for each website.

This will allow you to create one website per language. The main advantage is that it’s native, using WordPress core functionality, so it’s safe and free to use. This way you can create each website in a different language within your network. First, you have to create a network of sites by using the multisite feature. Once installed, every time you make an adjustment (themes, plugins, menus, widgets, etc) you must port it to all the websites. If there are just two languages that’s not a big deal, but with three or more it can be a big problem. Also, keep in mind that some plugins an themes do not work properly on Multisite installations. WordPress Multisite was not originally intended for creating multilingual website. Managing translation of content is more laborious because it’s easy to lose track of the contents which have been translated or no.

In this option, you only need to insert a language switcher into the header to being redirected to the homepage when switching from one language to another. Many multilingual websites are very different in each language so it’s not always necessary link contents (posts, pages, categories, tags, etc.).

 

In summary, if you want to create a professional, easy to manage, multilingual WordPress website, I recommend you use a professional payment solution with good support such as WPML (single WordPress) or (WordPress Multisite). In other cases it may be enough to use a free plugin such as Polylang (single WordPress).

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