Why Using the WPML Plugin is Your Best Bet for Building a Multilingual Website

Here at WP Mayor we often talk about the best WordPress translation plugins and put them to the test, head-to-head, in a battle to crown the winner. And while we have mentioned numerous times how to use the WPML plugin and the many cool features it provides website owners, many in the form of additional plugins, today we are going to give you a different perspective. Keep reading if you are interested in getting the inside scoop on the popular WPML plugin. Keep reading if you want to know both the good and the bad surrounding this feature-packed plugin full of plugins. Keep reading if you want to know why, despite everything negative that can be said about said plugin, WPML is still the winner when it comes to building a successful multilingual plugin.

Website owners often have a global reach. And although the English language has dominated the Internet for some time now, the truth is that nearly 52% of languages used on the web are written in something other than English.

As the Internet continues to follow this trend towards becoming more multilingual, it is important that website owners follow suite and address their multilingual audiences in order to stay ahead. This means that no matter what language your website is primarily written in (whether English or something else), in order to remain competitive on an international level, building your website to be multilingual is more important than ever.

Here at WP Mayor we often talk about the best WordPress translation plugins and put them to the test in a battle to crown the winner. And while we have mentioned numerous times how to use the WPML plugin and detail the many cool features it provides website owners, today we are going to give you a different perspective.

Keep reading if you are interested in getting the inside scoop on the popular WPML plugin. Keep reading if you want to know both the good and the bad surrounding this feature-packed plugin. Keep reading if you want to know why, despite anything “negative” that can be said about WPML, it is still the winner when it comes to building a multilingual website.

What is WPML?

WPML is a premium plugin built for WordPress websites. By extending the functionality of the WordPress CMS, WPML allows your website to be written in different languages and have front-end translation abilities. It also comes packed with advanced features for managing your site’s translation capacities while remaining professional to all that visit your site.

WPML - Translated Website

Currently, over 400,000 WordPress websites are actively running the WPML plugin.

WPML Clients and Websites
Global WPML Client and Website Use

Most WPML clients reign from Europe, North America, Asia, and South America.  Here are some of the most popular languages used by those same clients on their websites:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Dutch
  • Russian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese

Notice that 7 of the top ten most popular languages found on the Internet today are being translated using the WPML plugin. That’s saying a lot if you ask me.

WPML is an easy to use plugin that requires no technical or coding skills. It is simply installed onto your website where content can immediately be translated after configuring which of the 40+ languages you would like to include in your site’s translation switcher.

WPML - Language Switcher
Easily configure your website to translate into one of over 40 languages using WPML.

First, the Bad News

As with all great things, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. WPML is no different. Although hailed as the best multilingual WordPress plugin out there, it does have a few negative aspects.

It is Not Free

In an ideal world website owners would have unlimited budgets to spend on all the things needed to make their perfect website. Unfortunately, that is not realistic and quality things often come with a price tag. In order to take advantage of WPML, you must be willing to pay for it.

That being said, WPML does not come with a hefty price tag, rather it is a “look at all the cool things you get, what a great deal” kind of price tag. See what I mean here:

Multilingual Blog

This option is ideal for those who want to translate their own websites. Website owners get access to post/page/custom type translations, tag/category/custom taxonomy translations, WordPress menu translation, the standard translation controls, and browser language detection all for the low price of $29 with a yearly $15 renewal rate after that.

Multilingual CMS 

This option is ideal for those who either work with clients who need their sites translated or for those who do not want to hassle with translating their own sites. At $79 for the year with a $39 yearly renewal rate, website owners get all of the features mentioned in the Multilingual Blog option plus:

  • Translations of custom fields, widgets, and text in themes/plugins
  • Multilingual eCommerce support
  • Different language attachment management
  • Multi-user translation management
  • XLIFF interface
  • CMS navigation
  • Sticky links

Each plan comes with unlimited websites and one year of both support and free updates. WPML also comes in a pay once-get everything version for $195, complete with lifetime updates and support.

Now tell me again how paying to get all of that is considered bad news…

Performance Issues

Translating your website into multiple languages is bound to take a toll on your overall website performance. Especially when the plugin is as multi-functional as WPML. Requiring a variety of resources to run properly, sometimes the strain can affect your website. This can be true of any plugin and should be considered when installing anything new onto your website.

However, it has been suggested that this slowdown only affects your WordPress admin panel and not your actual website. This means that your website visitors never experience a delay, even while translating your site into their preferred language.

Again, not so bad right?

And Now for the Good News

Now that you know two of the potential downfalls to using WPML on your website, let’s see how all of the good this plugin provides far outweighs any “bad news”.

  • Simple Setup. Installing and activating WPML is easy. Start translating immediately after configuring your plugin and even translate your own website if you want.
  • Reliability. As one of the first translation plugins developed, it is safe to say WPML knows how to get the job done. Developed by a team who understands the translation process, you will avoid any embarrassing errors when it comes to having a multilingual website using WPML. And just in case you were wondering, there are regular updates and improvements continually being released to make building a multilingual website easier for you and to provide a better user experience for your audience.
  • Integration with WooCommerce. As one of the leading eCommerce platforms today, being able to translate your WooCommerce shop is crucial for building an international brand. WPML does all of the hard work for you while you sell to your international customers.
  • Compatibility with Gravity Forms. Don’t just translate your website’s content, easily translate your website’s forms as well.
  • Networking with Translators. WPML has their very own translation team where the very creators of WPML are available for when you need extra help translating your website’s content.  When completed, your content is delivered right back to you ready to go.
  • Works with (almost) all WordPress themes. There are not that many WordPress themes not using the WordPress API for its functionality which means more often than not, WPML is going to be compatible with your theme.
  • Unlimited Site Usage. Although WPML is a premium plugin, one great upside is that it can be used on an unlimited number of websites. Not a lot of plugins can make that claim.
  • Multilingual SEO. WPML allows you to optimize your website using SEO best practices separately for each language. More so, WPML is compatible with all of the leading WordPress SEO plugins.
  • Exhaustive Documentation. Have a question, concern, or just want to learn how to do something new? It is almost guaranteed there is a detailed article written about it in WPML’s documentation section.
  • Exceptional Support. 6 days a week, 19 hours a day, and available in 9 different languages, the team responsible for helping WPML clients is there for you when you have questions. The WPML support team cares about your website’s security, stability, and performance, and will do everything they can to make sure you are satisfied.
  • But Just in Case You Are Not Satisfied…WPML purchases have a 30-day money back guarantee.

So how does all of that sound?

And that is not even touching the surface when it comes to the multiple add-on plugins that come included with WPML’s Multilingual CMS option that add to making WPML the leading translation plugin around.

Final Thoughts

Altogether there is so much information to be shared regarding the multilingual WordPress plugin WPML. From how it to install and configure it, to how it works, to the multitude of features you can access to make your site the best multilingual one in your niche, it can become overwhelming very quickly.

However, when it comes to a translation plugin, nothing out there comes close to the features, affordability, and support WPML offers website owners.

If you are on the fence about whether you want to invest in the premium WPML plugin, just look at the list I have provided of the good and the bad and see which side prevails. Even better, check out this short demo video to get an insider’s look at WPML in action. Despite the negative aspects mentioned, there really is no denying WPML’s appeal.

So, what are you waiting for?

Purchase WPML today and start building your global presence now!

Have you ever used the WPML translation plugin for your multilingual website? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Lindsay Liedke
Lindsay Liedke
Lindsay is a freelance writer who loves all things WordPress. When she is not writing she can be found spending family time with her son and two silly nephews.

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6 Responses

  1. Thank you for the review article!

    Your observation about additional processing in the WP admin is correct. I’m happy to report that WPML team found an outstanding optimization, which will go into WPML 3.5 (the release following 3.4, which is coming next week).

    WPML includes the String Translation module, which allows to translate strings in the admin. Until now, this module would load strings in a less-than-optimal way. On the site’s front-end, we preloaded all the strings to the database. In the admin, we didn’t preload any. This is the reason for the noticeable load time on the admin.

    In WPML 3.5, WPML will intelligently preload only the strings required for any page – front-end and back-end. The practical meaning of this is that string translation will actually make sites run FASTER than without WPML.

    This is something that not even the compiled GetText library can do. GetText loads all the strings in a given context (and does it quickly). The selective preloading of strings in WPML will only require to load a tiny fraction of the site’s strings for every page. The result is that sites will run faster with WPML than without it, for non-English languages. For English admin, WPML’s performance loss will be tiny and usually not noticeable.

    I’ll write about this on WPML blog and present measurement data as soon as this feature is ready.

    1. Hi Amir!

      Thank you so much for stopping by WP Mayor and checking out the review I wrote concerning the WPML plugin.

      I am happy to hear that you and your team have addressed what seems to be one of the only downsides to the WPML plugin – the effect translating into other languages can have on the overall speed and performance of your website.

      I look forward to checking out the newer and improved version and can’t wait to hear what users think about the upgrades.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

      ~ Lindsay 🙂

  2. I just bought WPML a month ago and I gotta say it works like a charm, really glad to know that they are fixing the speed and performance on the admin.

    1. Hi Manux!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on the WPML plugin.

      It is great to hear that it works well for your needs, despite the slight performance issue, which as you already know, is in the process of being fixed.

      ~ Lindsay 🙂

  3. WPML is a good solid plugin. If I’m not mistaken it was the first to implement ML in WP and has gone a long way to the current solution. But it is a bit complicated to learn and manage, adds a lot of processing overhead and it’s expensive. This is important because once you decide to go the WPML way you cannot go back.

    There are different free ML plugins and one is very similar to WPML. But if I had to create a ML WordPress site I would go for a plugin that supports a multisite solution (WordPress Network). It is a more native approach.

    1. The current architecture for WPML is actually not the first one we tried. Originally, we wanted to create WPML so that it works on a Multisite network. On paper, this had promising advantages with no drawbacks. On paper.

      As we moved forward with the implementation, we started running into brick walls. Things almost worked out, but the remaining issues were really impossible to resolve. And I’m not even talking about the fact that you NEED to have a network install (which means that you cannot use it for real network installs, where each site is a site and not a language).

      There’s currently a plugin that does what you are referring to, called MultilingualPress. It’s not a bad plugin and the team behind it is great. I think that such a solution is good for very specific cases. Generally speaking, an architecture that runs on a single WordPress install is a lot more flexible.

      The single-site architecture also has inherent performance cost (because you need to resolve the language and load the right content per language). Every ML plugin running on a single WordPress install will add some processing time.

      We did a reasonable job on the front-end, because this is what we always optimized for. We didn’t do such a great job on the WP admin (so far), but this is getting fixed completely in the next WPML release. Hard to handle everything at once 🙂

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