Creating a multilingual website is now easier than ever. Thanks to the improving WordPress core and some well-developed WordPress plugins, you now have help with managing your translated content. With very little effort and a whole lot of added functionality, you can now share your content with readers from all around the world in the language they are most comfortable with.
There are plenty of great WordPress plugins on the market that can assist you with creating a multilingual website. Today we are going to focus on the best plugin choice available: WPML. WPML is a premium plugin that quickly pays for itself with its vast array of features.
That being said, let’s look at how you can create a multilingual website using WPML.
Things to Consider
Managing translated content on a WordPress site can present a number of challenges, but the right plugin can make things a lot easier for you.
- Inputting your translated text. Using a WordPress translation plugin to input your translated content is the easiest solution. Plugins save you time and money in the long run and provide the most accurate translation results.
- Fitting text into web pages. All languages display differently on your website. Getting translated text to display in a visually appealing way can be difficult, especially if you are not an experienced web developer. Again, a quality translation plugin will align your translated text appropriately so that every webpage is consistent.
- Linking translated content. Your site visitor may want to view different pieces of content in several languages. Giving readers a visible way to switch between their preferred languages is your best bet for ensuring a great user experience. The last thing you want is to alienate your readers because they cannot figure out how to view your content in their language. Luckily, most translation plugins have beautiful language switchers for your site visitors to use.
Considerations such as these reinforce the notion that a reliable translation plugin should be used when creating a multilingual website. That’s why I chose WPML. It is one of the most popular, thoroughly documented, and feature-filled translation plugins on the market today.
Okay, now let’s get started. The features I chose to highlight are available in WPML’s Multilingual CMS and Multilingual Agency account types.
Step 1: Set Up WPML Your Plugin
First, download, install, and activate the WPML translation plugin on your website. Then follow the steps provided by the convenient setup wizard.
The first step is to select the languages of your website. You can always add or remove languages later.
Next, choose your site’s URL format. WPML allows you to use different domains per language, set up languages in directories, or add a language parameter to the end of your URL.
WPML provides extensive documentation about the different URL options. Weigh the pros and cons for each and decide for yourself which method will work best for your website.
After that, you’ll need to register your website with WPML. This way you can access plugin support as well as receive updates as they are released.
WPML offers two different translation modes you can choose from:
- Translate Everything Automatically – Leave the translating to WPML. As you create or edit content, WPML translates it all automatically and keeps it up to date.
- Translate What You Choose – Have full control over what gets translated and how. Select the content you want to be translated and translate it yourself or send it to translators.
Finally, install any add-on plugins you might need depending on your site setup. This ensures WPML runs smoothly with the other plugins on your site.
And that’s it! WPML adds a language switcher to the footer of your site by default. You’re now ready to start translating your site.
Step 2: Translate Your Posts & Pages
How you translate your posts and pages depends on the translation mode you choose during the setup or in the WPML settings.
Translate Everything Automatically
If you choose to Translate Everything Automatically, you don’t have to do anything! WPML translates all your published posts and pages for you and keeps the translations up to date as you edit the content on your site.
Once your pages and posts are translated, you can review the translations to make sure they sound natural and accurate.
Translate What You Choose
If you choose the Translate What You Choose option, you can decide which pages and posts you want to translate and who should translate them.
WPML allows you:
- Translate content yourself
- Set up translators on your site
- Connect with one of dozens of WPML’s translation service partners
To send content for translation:
- Go to the Translation Management Dashboard.
- Select the content you want to translate and the languages you want to translate it to.
- Decide if you want to translate it automatically or send it to a translator.
When a translator receives a translation job, they translate your content into the language requested. It is then sent right back to you for immediate display on your website. This smooth workflow makes the entire process of translating content into many languages much more manageable.
Step 3: Translate Taxonomies
WordPress websites have a taxonomy system that includes data such as post categories and tags. Since taxonomies help with user experience and provide an easy way of navigating through your website, translating these smaller parts makes sense.
Luckily, WPML makes it easy for you to translate your site’s taxonomies. Just like with posts and pages, if you choose to Translate Everything Automatically, WPML handles translating all your taxonomy terms for you.
If you use the Translate What You Choose mode, you can translate your website’s taxonomies at the same time as you translate your posts and pages. Or, you can translate them individually using the centrally located interface.
To do this navigate to WPML > Taxonomy Translation in your WordPress dashboard. From there pick which taxonomy you would like to translate first from the drop-down menu: Categories or Tags.
To start, let’s translate the site’s categories. Once selected, the Categories menu directs me to all of the categories that exist on the entire website.
To translate each category, click the + icon.
A popup will appear for you to fill in the translation for the related category. From there enter the translated word under Name and add a Description if you want to. A slug will automatically be assigned after you save the translated category. Click Save.
After you have translated all of the categories you want they will automatically synchronize with your website’s translated content. The default language categories will appear with the default language content and the translated categories will appear with the translated content.
To translate your website’s tags follow the same process that is required for translating categories.
Step 4: Translate Menus
It’s important to add menus in your site’s other languages so that your users can navigate your site easily.
To create a menu for your translated site, go to Appearance > Menus on your WordPress dashboard. Click the + icon next to your site’s secondary language.
Give your menu a name and click Create Menu. Then, choose the translated pages you want to appear in the menu. You can use a different order or different pages completely from your default language menu.
You can also sync your menus so they are the same in all languages. To do this, go to WPML > WP Menus Sync. It will show you the parts of the menu that will change when you sync the menu. Click Sync and confirm the changes to keep your menu consistent across languages.
Step 5: String Translation
Any content that does not fall under the category of posts, pages, taxonomy, or menus gets translated via String Translation.
Before you can begin using the String Translation, you must download it from your WPML account. This enables it on your website.
WPML organizes your website’s strings for easier access during the translation process. You can search for a specific string or filter by domain, translation status, or translation priority.
To translate the string, click the + icon and add your translation.
You can also send your string translations to your translator. This ensures that every aspect of your website is thoroughly and accurately translated if you are unable to do it yourself manually.
Step 6: Translate Your Images
If you translate your website’s content and there are media, audio, or video files attached, you can upload a different file to use on your translated website. This allows you to add media in the correct language.
To do this, download the Media Translation add-on plugin and activate it on your site. Go to WPML → Media Translation and click the pencil icon.
Click the image to upload a different file to display on the translated page.
Now, when one of your site visitors visits the page that uses this image in another language, they will see the file you just uploaded.
Keep in mind that this guide has only provided the basic steps for creating a multilingual website. WPML offers tons of features that cannot possibly be discussed in one post. However, if you are looking for a quick and easy way to manage your translated content, these steps will have you there in no time.
Altogether, WPML is a feature-packed translation plugin designed to turn your website multilingual as easily and thoroughly as possible. Providing accurate and site-wide translations, WPML gets the job done well.
Have you used WPML to translate your website’s content? Did you find the process of managing your translated content confusing or difficult? How do you feel that displaying translated content helps your website as far as expanding your global reach? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!