We get a lot of questions regarding the best way to create a multilingual site with our themes.
We’ve already covered why it’s important to create a multilingual website in a previous post. Let’s just restate that 29% of all content published on WordPress.com is written in languages other than English.
Today I’m going to explain how to easily create a multilingual site using the WPML plugin. WPML is the most popular plugin for creating a multilingual website on WordPress.
All of Pojo Themes are WPML certified and compatible, and are built to easily implement different languages in one WordPress installation.
There are a lot of WPML installation guides out there, but I wanted to create a guide that was clearer and simpler, so you can reach a fully translated site in the least amount of time and effort. In the past, we explained how to create a multilingual site using another plugin, Polylang. Now it’s time to provide a similar tutorial for WPML.
Here is the ‘before’ site, that only has English:
And here is the ‘after’ site, after adding a translation to French with WPML:
We’ll be using one of our themes, Aleph, to demonstrate the translation process. The process is easier than you think. Depending on the complexity of your site, you can complete the entire site translation in under an hour.
It’s just four easy steps:
- Install WPML, Register and configure it
- Translate the header
- Translate the footer
- Translate the content
Why do we have to use a translation plugin?
Before going into the technical guideline, I want to explain why it’s necessary to use a plugin in order to have a multilingual site.
In the past, creating a multilingual sites on WordPress required you to perform a whole lot of coding. Perhaps in the future WordPress will have an internal multilingual option, but currently you have to use one or the other plugin.
There are a multitude of translation plugins out there, some even free. I would recommend paying the WPML price of $79, because you get a well supported plugin that has been tried and tested on millions of websites.
Step 1 – Install WPML, Register and configure it
WPML includes several modules to install. We’ll start by installing the two of the most important modules:
- WPML Multilingual CMS
- WPML String Translation
There are other WPML modules, which we will might cover later in more advanced tutorials on this subject.
- Head over to WPML, log in to your account and go to the download section.
- Download the two modules mentioned above.
- Go to your WordPress admin > plugins and install the two modules.
- Now activate them.
- Go to Plugins > WPML > Register, and register the product.
6. Finish configuration. Press next.
7. Choose the languages you want on your site.
8. Add a flag to the language switcher.
9. Finish registration if you haven’t already done so.
10. Add the language/s to the WordPress admin.
To add all the admin translations to WordPress, you go to Settings > General > Site language, choose the language you want to add, and press ‘save changes’. Don’t worry if you don’t see any changes, the language is added even if there is no notification.
Step 2 – Translate the header
1. I first head over to the pages section, and edit each page I want to translate.
2. For each page I click on Duplicate, so I get an exact duplication of the page, which I can then translate.
3. After Pressing the Duplicate button I need to click on the Pencil edit icon so I am transferred to the duplicated translation of the page.
4. I now click on ‘Translate independantly’.
5. Now I go through the page elements and translate them.
6. I now head over to the menu section, and click on the ‘Synchronize menus between languages’ link.
7. Click on ‘Synch’.
8. Check the relevant checkboxes and press “Apply changes”.
9. Add the language switcher to the header by going to WPML > Languages and choosing the menu.
Header translation – DONE!
Step 3 – Footer translation
1. To translate the footer, I use WPML’s string translation option.
2. I find the relevant strings of the About Us section.
3. The bottom part of the footer is set within the Pojo theme. This means I need to go into WPML settings and set it so WPML will scan my theme and add the ability to translate the strings inside the theme.
4. I click on ‘Translate the theme and plugins using WPML’s String Translation’.
5. Now I go again to WPML > String Translation, and search for the string I am after. Once I find it I can translate it, in the same way as in the beginning of this step.
Footer translation – DONE!
Step 4 – Content translation
The final step is to go into the page translation we have created, and translate the different page elements.
Here is the final French version of our homepage:
Content translation – DONE!
* Side note – This guide does not explain about sidebar translation, because the theme I am using is without a sidebar, but the process of translation for the sidebar is similar to the footer translation.
I hope you find this guide useful. This is the most basic guide, and in the future we will cover more multilingual tutorials using WPML. If you have any questions regarding the plugin, feel free to ask in the comments.