Making a WordPress Website Multilingual

Posted by Rehan Sajid on March 15, 2013


The need for a Website

Communication over the years has been evolving and at certain times in history it has evolved at even faster rates than others. Initially the fax machine was invented which helped people receive electronic messages in a fast, effective manner all in the click of a button. Then came the phone option but this was still very expensive. Business was carried out but not in the way it has now.

So what is it that changed mass communication? Well, quite simply it is the Internet. The Internet quickly rose to prominence as more and more people could afford a computer. Over the years the cost of hardware has been decreasing as has the cost of an internet connection. Initially it was computers which were used to connect to the Internet, this was upgraded to the use of laptops which made the whole process mobile. The trend of mobile internet has not stopped there, smartphones have superseded the laptops as the most mobile devices with internet access which has kept the trajectory towards high consumption of the Internet as high as it has been.

The Internet is being used as a commercial tool and this is because of a result of the manner in which it is being consumed. Resources on the Internet have been growing and it is the social aspect of the web that has made it so successful. It is the one medium where everyone has a voice and those voices can be heard. They can also be reached why online marketing is so prominent in today's day and age.

The core of the Internet is websites. They are online properties that define an organisation and are the platform which allows for communication to be takes place on. There are a million websites online.

The Purpose of a Website

However, simply by having a website does not mean that's it will work or send a clear message out to its readers. Apart from having a presence it needs to read well. Having a website written only in English just means that people who are well versed in the English language will be able to follow the website. What businesses and individuals fail to grasp is the international market that a website can be targeted towards which can increase revenue or readership - all in a cost effective manner.

The mature internet markets of USA and UK have English based websites but amongst the fastest growing countries in the world none have more than 7% of the population that speak in English. These countries include the BRIC nations, Brazil, Russia, China and India.

This stat tells us that websites are not meant to be global if they only offer an English version. To reach a wider audience websites have to be adaptable to cater various languages.

Translating a WordPress website

The process of translating a website is easier if it on certain platforms. For example if a website is developed on a WordPress platform then it is at a stage where it can take advantage of built in plugins and the like.

One such plugin is called qTranslate. This is a WordPress plugin which is pretty popular in getting text translated on a website in a smooth transition. The best way to install the qTranslate plugin is through WordPress itself. So in WordPress Add Plugin itself if we do a search for the term "qTranslate" we will find a plugin called qTranslate which is developed by a developer called Qian Qin. Once installed and activated the first place to stop is the General Settings tab.

Figure 1. The Plugin Languages

The default language for the plugin will always be English and the downside to this plugin is that it only allows 3 languages to the default language of a website. However it can translate text to a number of languages which can easily be added in the settings tab. The translation of content using this plugin can be described as fluid providing the set-up of the original site has been adequately done.

Figure 2. Translation of Posts

qTranslate not only allows the translations to be done on a page by page basis but also allows translation of the meta tag information to take place within the visual interface of the WordPress backend.

There are a few other language translator tools like qTranslate on the market which work on the same premise but it is debatable whether they offer the same level of flexibility. qTranslate offers the opportunity for people to either use the translation tool for free on offer or to deploy a human translation service to ensure accurate translation as no free translation tool offers accurate translation. To translate English to French, to use as an example qTranslate would use a human powered translation service that translates the text accurately and automatically updates the website without publishing it. This will be left to the site operator.

not published on website

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