How to create a multilingual website with WPML
Do you want a website that can be used in multiple languages? Of course, you can multiple domains (you need those) and create all the information from scratch and then translate it. You’ll need to take care of each single change, worry about backups and updates etc. etc. Otherwise, you can make it extremely easier by using a plugin! WPML is one of the best plugins (if not the best) for easily creating a multilingual WordPress website and don’t worry about the rest.
Why should I want a multilingual website?
Whatever your business is, your website is your showcase and the central hub of your marketing activity. Especially, if you manage an ecommerce, and your business is growing, you could have the need to interact also with foreign customers. This kind of clients (like all other customers) will use your website to contact you and find information, so it’s your responsibility to ensure that every content inside is easily comprehensible. Giving them the possibility to consult your website in their mother tongue is a very important step to approach their market and make them trust you.
How can I make my website multilingual?
First, you’ll need to install and activate the WPML plugin on your WordPress platform. After activating the plugin, the “WMPL” section will be added to the menu in the sidebar. By clicking on the menu, you’ll be redirected to the configuration panel where you can select the main language of your website. The plugin usually detects it automatically and selects it for you. Then, click on “save” to continue.
After that, you’ll find the screen where to select the languages you want to activate on your website. Choose the languages you prefer, and click on “save” once you are done. If you change your mind, remember that the language selection can be changed anytime.
In the following screen, you can add a language switcher on your website to allow users to view the content on their preferred language. In this section, you’ll also find two options to manage the languages that do not have translations. To manage the order of the languages in the switcher, drag and drop the language to the correct position. Once you are satisfied with the changes made, click the “save” button.
At the end, you’ll be asked to enter your site’s key. If you haven’t generated one yet, click on “Generate a key for this site”. You’ll be redirected to WPML website, where you’ll be asked to add the website to your WPML account. Once the website is added, you’ll be provided with your site’s key, which you’ll need to copy and paste in the concerned field on WordPress. To complete the configuration process, click on the “Finish” button.
How to translate posts e pages
With WPML, you won’t need to translate the entire website, but you can traslate only the pages and posts you really need. To do so, click on “Post” or “Pages” in the menu. There you’ll see the language column next to the existing pages. In our case, having selected only German and English in the settings, we see only these languages. Once you have chosen the language you want to work on, click on the “+” button to translate your post/page into that language.
You also have the possibility to manage the translations directly within the editing interface of your pages or posts. To do this, click on the edit button as you normally would do to go to the editing screen. You’ll notice a meta box labeled “language” on the right side of the screen and inside it, you can translate (and duplicate, so you don’t have to recreate the content fro scratch) your post or page in all the languages you have selected for your site.
How to translate categories and tags
In addition to the static or editorial text content, as posts or pages, WPML allows also to translate any other taxonomy of your WordPress website, as categories and tags. To do so, you only need to click on “WPML” and select the sub-menu “taxonomy translation”. Once the taxonomy you want to translate is selected, click on the pencil icon and insert the corresponding translation on the new dialogue window. To finish it, click on the “save” button to add the translation.
How to translate the menu
Like for the categories and tags, translating menu in WordPress is quite easy. First, go to Appearance > Menu. Once the menu page has opened, select the menu you would like to translate, and you’ll see (at the top right) menu links to create the translation in the other languages. By clicking on a language, you’ll create a new menu for that language, but you’ll need to add the same menu items as those in the main language menu. If the menu you want to translate contains posts or pages, you’ll need to translate them before translating the menu.
Translate themes and plugins
Lastly, let’s see how to translate themes and plugins using WMPL. WPML’s multilingual CMS offers you the option to select official translations of themes and plugins, but it also has its own string translator. To use it, click on WPML > “theme and plugins localization” and in the localization options section, you can see that you are asked to select one of the three options:
- translate themes and plugins using WPML’s String Translation module only (do not load .mo file)
- translate themes and plugins using WPML’s String Translation and always load .mo files as backup
- do not use the WPML’s String Translation to translate themes and plugins
You can use the default settings that WordPress gives you, but to be on the safe side, we suggest selecting the second option because even if your database gets corrupted your .mo files can still be automatically called.