The demand for multilingual websites is on the rise thanks in large part to those striving to reach a more global audience. Having a worldwide reach draws more traffic to your blog, encourages more consumers to make purchases, and ultimately helps you build a more successful website.
The best solution for those looking to make their content available to site visitors in more than one language is to create a multilingual website. Fortunately, there are many WordPress multilingual plugins available on the market today to help with just that.
WordPress Multilingual Plugins Reviewed: WPML, Polylang, and qTranslate X
Before we can compare the top three WordPress multilingual plugins website owners are privy to, we must first establish a foundation for each of them. Let’s take a look at each of the plugins:
WPML is arguably the best multilingual plugin website available for WordPress today. With over 400,000 websites utilizing this multilingual plugin, WPML aims to make building a multilingual website easy. In addition, it strives to make managing your translated content simple yet powerful.
With WPML, you can translate pages, posts, custom post types, taxonomies, menus, and even your theme’s text. Suitable for large corporations or small blogging sites, WPML provides advanced features. For instance, WPML’s professional interface make managing your translated content quick and easy.
Here are some of WPML’s best features:
- 40+ languages out-of-the-box
- Theme and plugin translation
- Automatic translation of visitor comments
- Integration with WooCommerce
- Exclusive translation team available
- Compatible with all WordPress themes and plugins
- SEO optimized
WPML is a premium plugin, with prices starting at €39.00.
Polylang is another prevalent multilingual plugin in the WordPress community today. It has over 200,000 active installs and an impressive 4.8 out of 5 star rating. In short, this translation plugin is a great solution for those looking to build a multilingual website.
For example, Polylang allows you to translate posts, pages, media, categories, post tags, menus, widgets, and more. All you have to do is provide the translated content, define the language(s), and let Polylang do the rest.
Here are some of Polylang’s best features:
- Use as many languages as you want
- Support custom post types, custom taxonomies, sticky posts and post formats, and RSS feeds
- Utilize a customizable language switcher as a widget or in the nav menu
- Multilingual admin section
This plugin comes as a free and premium plugin (starting at approximately $104) making it perfect for those who want to test it out first and possibly upgrade later.
qTranslate X is the last of our highly coveted WordPress multilingual plugins. With over 100,000 active installs and a 4.8 out of 5 star rating, qTranslate X ranks up there with both WPML and Polylang.
With this plugin, simply translate your content into the languages you want as multiple versions of the same post, page, etc. Then, as a visitor clicks on your site, the content appears intuitively as the default language of the visitor’s web browser. You can however, add language switchers to your site as well for visitors to choose manually which language to display the content in.
Here are some of qTranslate X’s best features:
- One-click local switching between languages
- Date and time translations
- 3 available modes for SEO friendly URLs
- Unlimited language support
qTranslate X is available for free in the WordPress Repository.
Multilingual Plugin Feature Comparison
All three of these multilingual plugins have an extensive set of features. Their functionalities provide necessary tools for website owners needing a multilanguage website. That said, today we will only compare the most important features you should consider when choosing the right translation plugin for your individual needs.
1. Ease of Use During Setup
Ease of use should always be a priority when it comes to choosing a plugin to use on your website. After all, if the initial setup is difficult, it will do very little to improve your site or user experience as frustration and errors set in.
WPML makes setting up a multilingual website easy, even for those who have no experience. In fact, thanks to their setup wizard, the team at WPML boasts you can build a multilingual website in 3 minutes.
To start, the setup wizard guides to in choosing your site’s default language. Next, you determine the additional languages you would like added to your website to make it multilingual. If you want language variants such as Canadian French, you can use WPML’s languages editor to do so. However, keep in mind that your additional languages will be limited to one if you purchase the lowest priced version of this plugin.
Next, choose the design, location, and functionality of your preferred language switcher. In addition, allow your visitors to change languages in the footer, sidebar, or menu widgets as well.
Lastly, register your website with WPML so that you can access their exceptional support team and receive any released updates.
Unlike WPML, Polylang does not have a setup wizard to guide you through the setup process. However, they do have documentation for getting started, though it is far from a quick start guide.
Although not found easily, locate the Polylang settings under Settings > Languages and add languages to your website.
Though Polylang comes with 90 pre-defined languages, adding one that is not included in the drop down menu means downloading the corresponding WordPress language file. Neither WPML nor qTranslate X require this. As a result, this makes using Polylang more difficult to set up, especially for those unfamiliar with language files.
qTranslate X’s level of ease is very similar to that of Polylang, with some minor differences. For example, there is no setup wizard to help users set up and configure the plugin. However, upon plugin activation, there is a link to this startup guide, which is very helpful in understanding how the plugin will function.
Located under Settings > Languages, find the general setup section for qTranslate X.
Here, define your site’s default language as well as add the additional languages for your site. One of the greatest things that qTranslate X does for website owners, that neither WPML nor Polylang do, is offer a language switcher on all of the WordPress admin areas. This means the entire backend of your site has the ability to switch between the default language and any additional languages you have configured for your website.
2. Translation Management
Keeping track of translated content on your website can be time-consuming. Especially if you are translating your content into many languages or you have a large website. Luckily, the best multilingual plugins make managing your translations easier with specialized features.
For example, WPML has an advanced Translation Management screen for managing several things related to your translated content.
To start, filter content according to its translation status or look for content in specific languages. In addition, quickly identify which content is “complete”, “in progress”, “needs updating”, or is “not translated”.
More so, manage translation services and any employed translators, monitor translation jobs, determine how your content will be translated, and even configure your translation notifications all from WPML’s unique Translation Management screen.
Unfortunately, both Polylang and qTranslate X offer very little by way of translation management. Though you can scan the Languages column that both plugins add upon activation indicating translated content, this is not efficient for those who have large websites and lots of content needing translation.
3. Professional Translation Integration
If you are not able or willing to translate your entire website’s content yourself, it is likely you will need a professional translation service to help. That being said, not all multilingual plugins will provide access to translators leaving you with a possibly expensive situation to deal with.
WPML connects website owners with multiple professional translation services at highly discounted prices. What’s great about this is that you can access these translators directly from the Translation Management screen in your WordPress dashboard, easily sending content out for translation and receiving it back in its translated form. You can also monitor translation jobs and handle payment for services through your WordPress admin section.
Polylang works in tandem with the free Lingotek Translation plugin to create customizable translation workflows with professional translators, though they are not at a discounted rate like WPML’s translation partners. However, this plugin offers free machine translations that, while not always 100% accurate, offer a quick and affordable solution of you have a lot of content to translate.
qTranslate X currently does not work with any professional translation services. More so, they regularly ask users of their plugin to take a survey asking if translation services is something they wish to see integrated into the plugin. So far, the answer to that has been a resounding “no”.
4. Language Support
As mentioned earlier, WPML includes support for 40 languages out-of-the-box. In addition, you can utilize WPML’s built-in language editor to add extra languages, or variants of common languages, relatively easily.
Polylang has 90 built-in languages to choose from, but again, adding new languages is not simple. This is especially true for those not familiar with using language files. However, you can add as many languages as you like with Polylang which is a nice feature for those who have significant multilingual needs.
Lastly, qTranslate X has 29 pre-defined languages to choose from upon initial setup. In addition, you can add new languages if needed using the easy to follow Add Language steps. Additionally, the developers of qTranslate X have encouraged native speakers to send information regarding unlisted languages for consideration as permanent inclusions into the plugin.
5. eCommerce Support
When it comes to creating a multilingual eCommerce website, each of the three plugins we are discussing can help with that. For example, WPML’s higher priced license, WPML CMS ($79), includes full support of any WooCommerce online store. On the other hand, there is also a free WooCommerce multilingual plugin designed to work with WPML available here that can be used with the lower priced WPML license.
If you are interested in building your eCommerce shop while using the Polylang plugin, you will need to upgrade to Polylang Pro or purchase the Polylang for WooCommerce extension (approximately $48) separately. It is important to note that the WooCommerce extension is still in its beta stage and has limited WooCommerce support when compared to Polylang Pro.
Lastly, those using qTranslate X to turn their website multilingual can also create a multilingual online store using the free WooCommerce & qTranslate X plugin.
6. Documentation and Support
For those times when you are stuck and need help getting to the next step, there is nothing quite like good documentation and support. In fact, higher-level support and documentation are often significant reasons why people choose premium WordPress plugins over free ones.
WPML offers their users some of the most exceptional support there is in the plugin world. Standing by 6 days a week, 19 hours a day, you can easily get in touch with the support team for WPML and receive high quality help. Additionally, just in case you want to troubleshoot yourself, you have access to very detailed online documentation.
The same cannot be said of the free Polylang plugin. In fact, the developer has been very clear in stating that there is no support given to users of the free plugin version via the WordPress Repository forum. Although there is online documentation pertaining to the pro version of Polylang that may help you with the free version, if you are looking for a dedicated support team, you will have to have your pro version license key ready in order to receive a response.
Much like Polylang, qTranslate X does not offer much by way of support. Though they seem to resolve several of the problems posed on the WordPress Repository forum, there is no guarantee you will receive any sort of help. However, unlike Polylang’s apparent lack of support, qTranslate X does have their own dedicated user support forum. In addition, they make mention that paid help is available upon request using their contact form. That said, their documentation is also available online, though it fairs far worse than WPML’s in terms of detail and clarity.
In the end, each of these three multilingual plugins will get you what you need – a multilingual website. They each support many languages, are relatively easy to set up and manage as far as translated content is concerned, and give users an easy way to display their preferred language while enjoying your content.
As far as recommendations go, WPML is arguably the best option available in terms of functionality, compatibility, and perhaps even ease of use despite its enormous feature set. And, while it is a premium plugin, its starting price of $29 is reasonable when you think about the features, superior support, and continual updates that come included. Plus, being able to utilize this plugin on an unlimited number of websites is a nice touch.
As far as Polylang and qTranslate X are concerned, they do the job of creating a multilingual website well and at no cost which is great for those on a tighter budget. And, while the functionality of both plugins can seemingly pale in comparison to WPML, they offer a great starting point for those unfamiliar with building a multilingual website.
Altogether, no matter which plugin you choose to use, you will be reaching an international audience quickly and helping to build your reputation in the global online world. Which one you decide to use is up to you and your own personal needs.
Have you ever used WPML, Polylang, or qTranslate X? Which do you prefer and why? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!