WPML vs qTranslate

qTranslate is the most popular free multilanguage plugin for WordPress. This is frequently reason enough for you to use a plugin, however you might want to spend a few more minutes reflecting on whether it is best to use qTranslate or WPML for your multilingual WordPress site.

Update January 2014: qTranslate is now considered an abandoned plugin and you should definitely be using WPML if you care for the longevity of your site.

qTranslate is a very popular free multilanguage plugin for WordPress. This is frequently reason enough for you to use a plugin, however in this case you might want to spend a few more minutes reflecting on whether it is best to use qTranslate or WPML for your multilingual WordPress site.

If you spend some time reading on the web, it will be immediately clear that the leading multilingual and translation plugins for WordPress are qTranslate and WPML.

Let’s consider how they both work. Starting from qTranslate:

All languages are inserted into the same page when editing in the WordPress dashboard. This is ok until you have a large number of languages. Then the interface starts looking more than a little overcrowded. Therefore I’d say it is not so scalable from a UI point of view. On the frontend, the plugin will automatically load the relevant language depending on the language selected by the user.

Moving on to the way WPML works:

Content gets stored in different posts/pages and linked together automatically via the plugin. Again the front end loads the appropriate language according to the user’s selection. This is a more scalable structure, and the UI is kept constant irrelevant of how many languages you have on your site. It is also easier to assign a language to one site editor who will be managing that language because things remain separated.

qTranslate is FREE but WPML is NOT

The main reason why qTranslate is chosen by so many users is that it’s free. However, as you know free is not always best. Of course, there are situations when qTranslate can be ideal, but you first have to consider what kind of site you have and what are your goals for that site.

If you have a big site with lots of content, you will need support, and therefore your only choice is WPML, which is very well supported by a number of developers. It is easy to find developers who can help you implement WPML, but you can also find quick help on the WPML forums, this is why you are paying for this plugin, to get great and timely support. The same cannot be said for qTranslate.

So I recommend you use qTranslate only if you have a small site that you don’t plan to grow very much, and are absolutely on a ‘spend nothing’ kind of budget.

Also, one thing I don’t like in qTranslate is that comments are not separated by language. If your site receives a lot of comments you should definitely go for WPML, else if you have comments disabled, you will be perfectly fine with qTranslate.

WPML is also better integrated with lots of themes and plugins because their developers know how popular WPML is and make specific testing to make sure that their theme or plugin is compatible.

In the long run, WPML is one of those things where you end up really satisfied and you forgot that you even paid for it in the first place because its value is so great.

Still not convinced? Then the best way to decide is to test these plugins yourself. Just set up some test WordPress installations and install these plugins, then you can compare the performance and UI of both. You can go ahead and buy WPML for testing purposes, if you don’t like it you can use their money back policy to request a refund. There are no hassles when giving out refunds, so you have absolutely no problem there in getting your money back if you are not satisfied.

Just remember when testing to give the same use case scenarios to the two plugins, give them the same amount of content to handle, check out how they handle menus, custom post types, widgets, theme translations, etc. See if there are any conflicts with other existing plugins you might have installed, and then make your final decision. Also, keep in mind that WPML has guaranteed support and a team of more than 10 developers working on improving it all the time.

If you’ve already chosen qTranslate and now want to switch over to WPML, don’t fret! WPML have created a free qTranslate to WPML importer plugin which makes it easy to move over content to the WPML plugin

Try WPML Today

Give WPML a go and take your WordPress site to the next level.

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Jean Galea
Jean Galea
Jean Galea is an investor, entrepreneur, and blogger. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and Spotlight, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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18 Responses

  1. Thank you for this very helpful article!

    I went ahead and tried to switch from qTranslate to WPML, and it was a frustrating and fruitless experience.

    The developers promised me this would work smoothly, but I spent nearly a month with their support team (who are quite slow to respond), and it still didn’t convert my qTranslate database.

    In the end, they manually converted the database for me (by which time it was no longer up to date, so I had to manually transfer over several days worth of entries.)

    And, worst of all, when we finally got my site up and running with WPML, it was about TWICE AS SLOW as qTranslate!

    You can see the results of my testing here: https://wpml.org/forums/topic/slower-than-qtranslate/

    And the thread for trying to get the importer to work and the issues I had here:
    https://wpml.org/forums/topic/help-stuck-on-qtranslate-import/

    Best of luck. At this point I recommend qTranslate.

    1. Zeev, you are right about the process taking longer than we had hoped.

      During this process, we ran into some DB dependencies that are related to the Hebrew encoding of content in qTranslate. Of course, this should not matter to you, as the importer tool should handle it, but you probably know that Mihai spent a great deal of time debugging this issue. When we write import tools, they need to know the ins and outs of the plugins we are importing too. This includes handling bugs and ugly patches in these plugins. Now we can say that we cover the Hebrew encoding in qTranslate. I’m sorry that we had to handle this while working on your site.

      Speed is an interesting issue. It’s a lot easier to build sites that work fastest when creating them originally with a certain set of plugins. After the site is already fully-developed, the import process may take some trade-offs to accomplish complete functionality. I’m sure that if you created the site originally with WPML, you would have used things more efficiently.

      Think about writing a program in an ancient language such as Fortran and then automatically converting it to C++. Of course, it would run less efficiently than if you code it from the beginning on C++. It’s a similar case when we import an entire site.

      Of course, the speed of the imported site is not the end of the story. Once imported and everything works correctly, there are numerous speed optimizations that can be done. WPML includes a number of settings that allow you to speed things up. Some of these settings will disable debug information (which is no longer needed once the site is complete) and some of the settings may require a tiny bit of coding to the theme.

      In any case, we are sure that you can achieve very small performance impact with WPML. We know this for fact, as we are running WPML ourselves on a number of very high traffic sites. To go from minimal optimization to full optimization, some effort is required.

      I summarized the main things here:
      https://wpml.org/2012/01/can-your-site-run-faster/

      Our support staff is familiar with this and can help when needed.

      I hope that this helps.

      1. How is it you have time to write this long response, but not to respond to my email regarding a refund?

        You personally promised you would give me a refund if it didn’t work out, but now your staffer Laura told me 30 days have passed – because it took so long to just get my database converted – and so it’s too late.

        I told your support about the slow performance on 6/12 (3 weeks ago), and they have not responded since 6/17.

        1. That’s because I don’t handle all client emails personally. Laura, who was handling this made a technical mistake with your refund processing, which is corrected now. Thank you for reminding us about it.

  2. Sorry, but although I have looked at all possible solutions, WPML makes my website be very very very very slow.
    The best plugin is the one that works right the first. With no so much subsequent repair

    1. WPML includes debug modes, which help during the site development, but are not really intended for production. We’ve recently added notes about it in the GUI, helping to identify the features that take resources and provide development information.

      Anyway, we are very interested in learning more about the performance issues with your site and WPML. I’m sure that we can help it run (a lot) faster.

      Have you reported any of this in our technical forum?

  3. This doesn’t feel like an unbiased comparison and, more like a sales pitch for WPML. The fact that the article links 17 times to WPML and not a single time to qTranslate says enough.

    After reading I thought this would be an affiliate article.

    1. We really do prefer WPML over any other translation solutions and use it whenever we have a multilingual project. Will add links to qTranslate too though, and please do let us know about your experience if you too plan to try them both and compare them.

  4. Thank you very much Jean 😉

    Now, qTranslate is broken with WordPress 3.8 :((

  5. qTranslate is better pluguin as compare to WPML becasue if you have hundred post display in same page then how you can manage ? i think qTranslate is better for user prospective and easy to use.

  6. What’s a crazy data – “qTranslate is now considered an abandoned plugin and you should definitely be using” now – qtranslate-x is the fest and free!

  7. Have you been paid by WMPL, bring this review? Your arguments towards WMPL is just invalid – high scaling websites are perfectly for qtranslate X aswell.

    Constanly arguing that WMPL have support. qtranslate X got that aswell. Their supportteam is even faster than WMPL.

    If you decide to bring a review, could you please do it objectively?

  8. I have been using WPML since late 2012 and I am now seriously considering going back to qtranslate. WPML is time consuming to setup and maintain, resource hungry, database table spammy and, most important, inconvenient for editors to use.

    I am looking for a single reason to stick to WPML, in fact that´s how I found this post, but I just can´t find any. Regarding comments, depending on the project I either use external services such a Disqus, or disable them altogether, so it´s a non-issue.

  9. I am working as a web developer. I love this free Q-translate plugin. Which is work for almost everything like post, page, texonomy, custom-post etc. And as @Jean Galea mentioned that, if your side has budget and you want to improve user experience in all aspect, Then WPML is the best choice.

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