WordPress is not multilingual by default. But what if you want to create a multilingual WordPress website without having to do anything special? You don’t have to worry because there are many free and premium Multilingual WordPress Plugins available in the market today. WPML (WordPress MultiLingual) is one such popular plugin that will make it easy for you to create a website accessible in multiple languages. In this article, you will learn to quickly set up WPML and turn your single-language site to multilingual.

Is It the Best Option Available?

The answer depends on your website requirements, your budget and the level of support you will need to setup and maintain. WPML is the best option for your site if you need a plugin that will enable translation of all WordPress elements. It is perfect for your team if they are looking for a plugin that is easy to setup and comes with full support. In a few steps, you can have your multilingual site running with a single WordPress installation.

What Should I Do Before Setting up WPML?

  1. Select the right WPML variant: There are several variations of the plugin available for purchase. WPML’s website provides a detailed comparison report to help you decide which version is right for you. Study the features of each solution and buy the variant that is most appropriate for your requirements.

  2. Verify compatibility (with your WordPress version and theme): WPML is compatible with WordPress 3.0 and above. It works with almost every theme that uses WordPress API.

  3. Purchase and activate: Purchase, install and activate the plugin like any other WordPress plugin. You can find more details about managing plugins on the WordPress site.

Setting up for the First Time?

If you are setting up for the first time, you should configure WPML before you can start using it. Upon activation, the plugin will guide you through configuration steps in the settings wizard.

  1. Choose current language. Select the current language of your site contents and click on the ‘Next’ button.

  2. Select languages for your multilingual website. In this step you will find a list of languages to pick from and enable for your site. You can also add or remove languages anytime after setup. Select your list of languages and click on the ‘Next’ button.

  3. Configure language switcher. Your site visitors will be able to choose their preferred language using a “language switcher.” You should attend to three important configurations to set up your site’s language switcher:

    Order of languages (global settings): WPML lets you control the order in which languages appear in your site’s switcher. In the configuration screen, you will find all the languages chosen for your site. You can order them by dragging them around as you wish.’

    Language switcher display option: You can set up WPML to show the language switcher on your site in three different ways:
    1) As a sidebar widget 2) In your navigation menu or 3) In the footer. WPML lets you configure global settings as well as customize each of these switcher options individually.

    Items to show in the switcher: You can configure what to include in the switcher for each language (country flag, native language name, name in the page’s language). You can see a live preview of how the switcher will appear on your site. When you are satisfied, click on the ‘Next’ button.

  4. Register your plugin for automatic updates. If you want to receive automatic updates from wpml.org, enter your site key in this section and click on the ‘Register’ button. If you do not have a key, you can generate one by clicking on ‘Generate a key for this site’ button. This action will direct you to WPML’s website where you can generate a key by following the instructions there.
    The final step in the wizard is now complete, and you have successfully set up WPML. Click on the ‘Finish’ button to exit the setup wizard.

  5. Theme and plugins localization settings. The next step is to configure your Theme and plugins localization settings. WPML lets you select how to translate strings in the Theme and plugins. You can use traditional .mo files (if you already have all the translations) or use WPML’s String Translation module. You can find more details about this setting in the online documentation for WPML available here.

Translating Using WPML

WPML will enable you to easily translate every element of your WordPress site (posts, pages, categories, custom data types) into multiple languages. The plugin offers you three different content translation methods to choose from:

Basic manual translation. The first option is very simple. If you want to add translations to your existing post, just click on the ‘+’ (add) button beside the post title, for each language. This action will take you to a new page where you can enter the translation for the selected language.

WPML’s Translation Management module (assign translator roles to users). If your site has a significant amount of content, you will find it easier to use the second option. WPML’s Translation Management module. It is a powerful translation feature that will let you determine which users will translate what. Also, the module offers useful tools for translators. This module is available only if you purchase WPML’s Multilingual CMS Plan.

Professional translation (integrated with Translation Management module). If you are using the Translation Management module, you can get professional help for translating your content. The module offers an option to avail translation services of professional translators.

You can also use WPML to easily translate categories, tags and other custom taxonomy you may be using on your WordPress site. It provides you with a central interface where you can select any taxonomy to translate.

Advanced Translation

The plugin also comes with advanced features to let you translate widgets, menus and even page slugs. To translate widgets, you should have the WPML String Translation module (available only in the Multilingual CMS version).

When you finish translating all content, taxonomy, menus, widgets and other elements your WordPress site is ready to be published as a multilingual website. If you are unable to setup on your own, you could avail help from companies who offer professional translation services, such as Day Digital.

WPML is a simple, easy to use and powerful plugin that will empower you to build multilingual sites quickly. Your users will be able to connect with your website in a language that feels native to them. By ensuring that your digital content meets the needs of your multilingual users, you have taken a huge step in globalizing your website. And the best part is that you did it all on a modest budget!

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by Vinu Saseedaran Renish
Vinu is a Technical Content Writer at Day Digital. A Computer Science Engineer by qualification, her passion lies in writing. She began her Content Author career at Red Hat, drawn in by her love for technology and writing. You can connect with her on Twitter @VinuSRenish.

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