Setting up a multilingual WordPress site to serve a diverse community that speak different languages has been much easier than ever, and this guide will illustrate how to make your WordPress based site multilingual in a matter of minutes. Generally speaking, there are several different ways to achieve your goal, which will be discussed in depth as below.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we’d like to start with creating a WordPress multisite network. Now, let’s go ahead and get to the key point.
How About WordPress Multisite Installation?
The multisite feature has been introduced to the public since the WordPress 3.0v, and it empowers you to create a collection of websites within one single WordPress installation. But the fact is that the mentioned WordPress multisite is not meant for setting up multilingual websites, and you will find yourself complicating everything when coping with site translations. For example, you will need to set user and permission settings manually whenever you want to add certain languages.
To top it off, multisite actually doesn’t offer useful features for your multilingual site, and instead it means more troubles due to the complexity of installing the same themes and plugins for each website. In this case, it is recommendable to make full advantage of a translation plugin to add multiple languages to the current WordPress install. Note that, we will focus on two popular multi-language solutions, including Polylang and qTranslate.
How to Use Polylang to Make a WordPress Site Multilingual?
Packed with a solid array of translation tools, it’s quite easy to understand why Polylang is the most popular multilingual plugin. By using this all-inclusive plugin, you can set the specific language for each post, page, category, tag and even media file. Pay attention that, a highly-customizable language switcher can also be provided in the navigation menu. The newest version of this WP plugin is downloadable through the following URL.
Download URL: https://wordpress.org/plugins/polylang/
Step 1 – Install & Activate Polylang Plugin
To start using this “Polylang” plugin, you’ll need to “Install” and “Activate” it from the WordPress repository. Alternatively, you can upload its downloaded package from the built-in “WordPress Uploader.” Whichever path you decide to take eventually, you will be able to take a look through this newly-enabled plugin from this “Installed Plugins” page.
Step 2 – Customize Languages Settings
Now that you’ve activated the “Polylang” plugin, it’s time to configure it to your liking by navigating to “Settings” > “Languages” as below. Inside the following language configuration page, there are up to three editing tabs – “Languages”, “Strings Translation” and “Settings.” First off, you shall make a selection of one default language from the drop-down list. Once you’ve chosen a language, the “Full Name” and “Local” sections will be filled in automatically, and only the “Text Direction” needs to be specified at the bottom of this page.
To store your language settings, click on the above “Add new language” button. Make sure that you’ve selected all languages that readers may use later on before proceeding to the next step.
Having done adding the needed languages, you are required to enter the next “Strings Translation” tab. From here, you have the ability to translate WordPress website title, tagline, date format and time format as well. Do remember to check the “Save Changes” button to take effect.
Within the last “Settings” tab, this “Polylang” plugin allows you to set “Default Language” for your WordPress site and some elements, such as posts, tags, pages and categories. It is not advisable to change your website URL in case that all included links would be broken when you ever abandon this plugin. If you are in search for multi-language SEO, then you can check the second radio button for some pretty permalinks.
Do check the “Detect browser language” option to cater to the browser’s preference. By doing so, you can also display users the content in proper languages. It is also possible for your visitors to set their beloved languages and switch between languages. Do not forget to press the “Save Changes” button in the end.
Step 3 – Add Multilingual Content to Posts/Pages
Here comes the most fun part – adding content in several different languages. To achieve this objective, you can add a new post or just edit the existing one. As you may notice, there is a language meta box on the left-hand of your post edit screen. As the default language (here is English) will be automatically selected, you should write content in the default language and then manually translate it into other languages.
To switch to the others, just make a hit on the translation pencil icon next to the targeted language. Again, you are expected to add in the multilingual content by yourself. Once done with all needed languages, you can get the posts/pages published right now.
Step 4 – Display Language Box as Widget
To display a language switcher for users to translate your website is also super-easy. Just navigate to “Appearance” > “Widgets” and then drag this “Language Switcher” from the “Available Widgets” section to your “Widget Area.” In the meantime, you can decide whether or not display dropdown, flags and language names on a WordPress site. After the completion of all settings, remember to press the “Save” button.
How to Translate Your WordPress Site by Using qTranslate?
Displaying human translation does greatly improve user experience, but it’s more than a time-consuming and complex option for most WordPress users. If you prefer using a painless and quick method to create a multilingual WordPress site, here is a plugin named as qTranslate for your reference. Note that, this highly-flexible plugin is available for free download through the following URL.
Download URL: https://wordpress.org/plugins/qtranslate/
Step 1 – Enable qTranslate Plugin in WordPress
Needless to say, you are supposed to “Install” and “Activate” this qTranslate plugin at the very beginning. Allowing for convenience and operability, we recommend you to install a plugin from the WordPress dashboard. Note that, you will be taken to this “Installed Plugins” page as soon as the qTranslate plugin is activated.
Step 2 – Configure Language Settings
Next up is to go to “Settings” > “Languages” from your WordPress sidebar. From the following setting window, you are empowered to choose a “Default Language” to use. The good thing about this qTranslate plugin is that you can hide untranslated content and detect browser language from the site’s frontend.
To “Enable” and “Disable” one language that you’d like to translate, you can click the respective buttons under this “Action” column. It is also possible to select multiple choices at a time. Pay attention that, the chosen language will be listed under the “General Settings” heading.
Step 3 – Enable Your qTranslate Widget
To enable the qTranslate widget, you can simply revert to “Appearance” > “Widgets.” Just drag and drop this “qTranslate Language Chooser” option to the right “Widget Area.” Note that, the “Title” is set to blank by default, and you can choose to enter a name or to hide it. Assuming that you’d like to put the qTranslate widget in the footer area, your language switcher will be displayed like the screenshot below.