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    Categories: Tips and TricksWordPress

Creating multilingual website with WordPress Theme

We live in Europe. Little continent with over 50 countries. Most of these countries have their own language yet we can travel and understand each other well as we all learn multiple languages since early childhood. In a digital world we all have our preferred language in which we browse and read most. It doesn’t matter which country or continent you are from, you know that creating multilingual website or simply adding more languages to your current website means enlarging your readers’ community and increasing your market opportunities.

If you got stucked with complicated plugins which call themselves “easy to create multilingual website tool” I have good news for you. All AIT Themes are multilingual ready allowing you to create your website in as many languages as you want.

Not long ago it has been quite complicated to create multilingual WordPress site but developers realized that it has become a great need to simplify the multiple-language site creation. They’ve been focusing on developing new plugins and theme extensions to facilitate this need. AIT team has taken this challenge to the next level by adding the translations of the most common phrases right into theme templates. They’ve also translated the WordPress admin environment to more than 20 languages.

Ways to create multi language website

There are several ways you can go with once you’ve decided that you want to have multiple languages website. Check also our 5 Tips How to Choose Best Multilingual WordPress Themes for more detailed info on this topic.

Let’s go through the most popular ways leading to multi language website:

  • WPML plugin – this is a well known universal plugin that you can use with almost any WP theme. It provides translation of WP admin, but you need to manually translate every single tool and it needs to be typed in manually. You can simplify this work by importing .po files.
  • Third party automatic translations plugins – plugins that use machine translations. We all know that they not always make sense. I would rather have single language website and let people use Google Translator by themselves than claiming to have multi language website that was generated by machine translation.
  • Third party separate translations plugins – they will facilitate manual translations on your website by enabling creation of posts translations (or translations of other parts of your website) and than linking those to original language.
  • Multisites in different languages – you can decide do have separate site for each language that works independently, even without a need for multilingual plugins.
  • Multilingual Ready website using AIT Languages plugin.

What does Multilingual Ready mean?

Admin environment is already translated to over 26 languages. This is a great advantage not only for you when creating multilingual website but also for your customers who want to administer their website by themselves after the initial setup by you. Page builder and elements are translated, so are the settings. It will save you great amount of time and hassle as you won’t need to translate it on your own. What’s even better is that core body of front end of your website is translated too. You just need to add your contents in selected languages. After creating a page in a new language, little flag (language switcher) will automatically appear on your website. Switch the language and you’ll see that “search” line has “translated itself” and so did other small details on the page.

Let me show you how it works. After initial WordPress installation to your hosting, you need to download multilingual AIT Theme from your AIT account. Just click on the choose Theme and save .zip files somewhere to your drive.

In WordPress environment:

  1. navigate to Appearance > Themes in main WordPress menu
  2. click on Add New button
  3. click on Upload link
  4. choose zip file with Theme from your computer, and click “Install now” button
  5. after successful installation of new theme click on “Activate” link

Now it’s time to install your AIT Languages plugin. It’s very similar to what you’ve just done with AIT Theme. Go to Plugins screen, click on Add New and Upload Plugin, upload the .zip file with plugin and activate it.

When you’ve done all the above and you can see “Languages” under Theme Admin options, congratulation! All the hard work is done. Now you can add as many languages as you want to your website.

Little tip for you, always set up your default language at the beginning. Even if you don’t, it’s not too difficult to assign correct language to particular sections, but if you do it right at the start, you avoid confusion and a bit of hassle later. It will be easier to keep everything neat and tidy if you start creating website in your default language first and add other languages and translation afterwards.

Default language for your website does not need to be the same as default language on your admin environment. Let’s say you want to create English website but you prefer to have admin menu in German. Go ahead and set it this way. You can change it later again easily if you want. You can see your admin language in the top right corner of your WordPress environment. At first, there’s only English available but after adding more languages as shown before, all those will be listed for you to choose from when you point your mouse at the little flag icon.

Pages in different languages

Working with this part is very intuitive and easy. Click on “Pages” in the menu on the left to see the list of all pages in your website. You can see that each page has its assigned language. By clicking on + you can add a new translation of a page already created. Pencil icon means that translation is already available in a particular language.

Please fill out the name and short description of your new page and click “Save and open in page builder” button.

Your new page will have all the default sections included. Feel free to add and delete elements manually or choose to import existing page for you to start with.

As soon as you click “Save Options” you can review your first multilingual website with language indicator and all the core parts already translated. Remember that when you switch the language, menu will include only pages that are available in that language. If you click on link for page not yet translated, it will automatically switch the language back to your default language. Go back to your admin environment and add new page for that link as shown above.

String translations

All general texts, strings, widgets, taglines and titles are listed in a “String translation” tab under Theme Admin / Languages options. Please pay attention to this section and make sure this is translated to all your selected languages. Just type in translation if missing, hit “save changes” and review your site to see how it looks.

When you got this far with creating your website, you see by yourself how easy it is to work with AIT Languages plugin. Don’t forget to fill out SEO settings on every page in it’s language and than just wait and enjoy how number of visitors rises as your page is now available to much wider audience.

Some tips for creating multilingual website with WordPress Theme

Having a multilingual website is not as difficult as it might seem at the beginning. It doesn’t really matter if you speak several languages or not. You can still do it. If you don’t know where to start, here are some steps to get you going. Let’s say you’re building brand new website for your blog or business. The main reason why you want it to translated into more languages is that you want to increase the number of visitors and offer your products to wider audience.

1. Start with one language you’re most comfortable with

It can be your mother tongue but this is not necessary. Create your website with all parts it needs, good looking and ready to go life.

2. What languages do you want?

Define your target audience and determine which language do they prefer. You can use different criteria to do this. In all cases, you shouldn’t just guess the languages.

  • Market research. If you’ve done your market research you know which country has the biggest potential for you.
  • Language popularity. Check the List of Languages by Number of Native Speakers and decide who would the content of your website be most relevant to.
  • Check historical data. This is suitable if you’re running your business for a while now and want to provide comfort of reading in own language for your customers. Spend some time on analysing statistics about your past sales.
  • Where are your business partners from? It would make sense to get closer to your business partner’s origin as you could leverage from their reputation and image on the market.

3. Identify the most important parts of your website to be translated

In other words, create an order in which your website will be translated. Probably the home page and contact information will be first on the list. Than you can go for your product pages and so on.

4. Where do you want to get the translations from?

This part is important as you want your page to be professional, good grammar is essential in each language and sentences should sound natural. I don’t recommend to go with the engine translation at all. Consider the cost of the options and make a plan for future. If there’s only few pages to be translated, it would be cheapest to go with professional translation agencies. But if there’s a lot to be done, it might be worth it to hire a person to do it. Potentially you might need someone to look after your target market in that language too.

5. Translate your website as described earlier

Follow your checklist for particular pages to be translated and don’t forget about setup of landing page if certain content is not yet available in some language.

Jarinka: Jarinka has economic degree and for our team is the biggest WordPress enthusiast and a first line end-user consultant. She's also experienced marketer and PR specialist.

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