How to Create a Multilanguage Website (In 4 Steps)

Translating your WordPress content to create a multilanguage website can be enormously helpful to your non-English-speaking readers. However, it’s also a massive undertaking. Just thinking about translating all those words into multiple languages can certainly raise your blood pressure a few points, especially if you’re not a polyglot.

Fortunately, translation in WordPress isn’t quite as difficult as it may seem if you have the right tools. You should be able to translate your website without having to know any code or a second language. All it takes is help from the right plugin.

In this guide, we’ll go over a few reasons why you might want to translate your WordPress site. Then, we’ll introduce you to the tools you’ll need for the process. Finally, we’ll give you some simple steps for how to create a multilingual website. Let’s get to work!

Why You Might Want a Multilanguage Website

Having a multilanguage website can benefit you in a variety of ways. Providing content that’s understood by those who don’t speak English can broaden your audience. Each translation you incorporate could make your website accessible to many more people.

A site that’s translated into multiple languages will also score you some points for User Experience (UX). It shows that you’re attempting to be culturally sensitive by enabling visitors to access your content in their preferred languages.

You can also gain an edge over your competitors if they don’t have multilingual websites. Surveys show that many online shoppers who speak English as a second language (or not at all) avoid buying from English-only websites.

Finally, when done correctly, having a multilanguage website can improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). After all, being able to reach a wider audience should result in more visitors to your site and higher levels of engagement. Both of these factors affect page rankings.

What You Need to Create a Multilanguage Website

To have a genuinely multilanguage website, you’ll need to translate both your content and your WordPress theme. That means you’ll be making use of a couple of different tools to get the job done.

Weglot Translate is a WordPress plugin that you can use to automatically translate your website’s content. It also enables you to design a custom language switch button and choose its placement:

The Weglot translation plugin.

Weglot Translate is easy to use and even helps connect you to professional translators if you require them. The plugin itself is free for a single language and up to 2,000 words. There are a variety of paid plans available, offering from one to ten different languages for your site.

You’ll need to translate your theme separately. This ensures that any text it provides – such as publication dates and certain button text – is available in your secondary languages. For this task, you may want to try Poedit:

The Poedit translation editor.

Poedit’s simple interface and translation suggestions can be very helpful. You can even pre-translate the file, which fills in all of the tool’s recommendations at once. This platform is free, although a paid version with additional features is also available.

While both of these tools can be helpful with the translation process, starting off with a translation-ready theme can make things much more manageable. Kale Pro fits the bill nicely:

Kale Pro by LyraThemes

Kale Pro will work well with Poedit, making the theme translation portion of the process very smooth. It’s also flexible, with lots of options for banners and homepage sections. There is a one-time setup fee of $35, then it’s $7.99 per month for ongoing support and updates. The first month is free!

How to Create a Multilanguage Website (In 4 Steps)

Now that we’ve given you some suggestions in the way of which tools to use, it’s time to learn how to create your multilanguage website.

1. Configure Weglot Translate

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Weglot Translate plugin, the next step is to configure it. To get started, set your original and destination languages.

From your WordPress admin dashboard, click on Weglot in the sidebar. You’ll be brought to this screen:

Weglot plugin setup

Add your original and destination languages using the dropdown menus and click on the Save Changes button. Weglot will then translate your content automatically.

2. Design Your Language Switcher

Next, you’ll customize the language switcher that will enable your visitors to choose what language they view your content in. You’ll find the button options below the main configuration settings:

The Weglot language button design options.

Here, you can select if you want to include country flags, as well as what they look like. You can also choose to use the full name of the language or its code.

Additionally, there are multiple options for where to place this button. Scroll down a bit further, and you’ll see them listed:

Weglot language switcher position options

It’s easy to place the language switcher in your primary navigation menu area or a widget. You can also use the provided shortcode or HTML to incorporate it anywhere else you’d like.

3. Make Edits to Your Content Translation

Weglot translates your content automatically, but just as with any machine translation tool, there may be some mistakes. Fortunately, making the necessary corrections is simple.

If you’re able to proofread your secondary language yourself, you have a couple of options. First, you can check translations line-by-line from your Translations page in your account dashboard on the Weglot website:

Editing a Weglot translation

However, you can also make edits using the visual editor on your WordPress site, as you can choose to use it in either your primary or secondary language.

Additionally, you have the option of hiring a professional translator to make fixes. You can arrange for this right from the Weglot website:

Starting a Weglot professional translation order.

Once you’re happy with your website’s multilanguage content, you’re still not quite done. Finally, we’ll move on to translating your WordPress theme.

4. Translate Your Theme

Your theme is made up of many text strings that each need to be translated. For example, the word “Search” in your site’s search bar is provided by your theme and needs to be translated separately from the content of your posts and pages.

Translating the elements of a WordPress theme uses several types of files you may not be familiar with. These include:

  • .pot file: The Portable Object Template file is simply a list of all of the text strings that need to be translated from the original language.
  • .po file: This is a two-column file that contains the original strings and their translations.
  • .mo file: This file is identical to the .po file, but it’s in a format readable by machines, rather than humans.

We’ll show you how to translate your theme using Poedit. Open the program and select File > New from POT / PO file. Then choose the .pot file from your theme. You’ll see a pop-up asking which language you’d like to convert it into:

The Poedit language selection pop-up.

Click on OK, and Poedit will create a .po file for you. You can proceed through this file and translate each string, or send it to a professional translator:

A .pot file in Poedit.

To translate, click on a string, and enter it in your target language. When you’re done with the whole file, click on Validate:

The validate button in Poedit.

Once your translation is complete, click on Save. Then, Poedit will create both a .po and a .mo file for you. Upload both of these to your theme’s Languages folder using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or your web host’s file manager.

Congratulations! You now have a multilanguage WordPress website.

Conclusion

Translating an entire website’s worth of content is a significant undertaking, but we’re sure you’re up to the challenge. You can make the task easier by using Weglot Translate, Poedit, and a translation-ready theme such as Kale Pro.

Let’s recap the four steps to making your website multilingual:

  1. Configure Weglot Translate.
  2. Design your language switcher.
  3. Make edits to your content translation.
  4. Translate your theme.

Do you have any concerns about creating a multilanguage website that we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments section below!

Disclosure: This page may contain external affiliate links that may result in LyraThemes.com receiving a commission if you make a purchase using the links. The opinions and reviews on this page are completely our own.

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