WordPress Multi-Language Website Development


Materiell uses the WordPress Multilingual Plugin (WPML), created by OnTheGoSystems, to build and maintain multilingual sites. Here we discuss this advanced plugin and highlight why you should consider using WPML for your global sites. 

The Motivation

Back in 2005, Thomas L. Friedman wrote “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” and turned our view of the world on its head. Contradictory to Pythagoras and Christopher Columbus, Friedman discusses globalization and the “flattening” of the globe. The book’s title is a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field in terms of commerce, where all competitors, particularly countries advancing in technology such as China and India, have an equal opportunity. Friedman challenges readers to open their eyes to and embrace the new global scene and, more importantly, adapt to remain competitive in a global market where geographical divisions are becoming less and less relevant.

Globalization Requires Translation

So what does globalization have to do with a WordPress plugin? Well, just as corporations are sailing across the open blue to build “colonies” (i.e. offices) in distant lands, so too must our websites span to those foreign lands. After all, it is called the world wide web.
Since websites are accessible all across the globe, and since not all countries speak the same language, our websites must be translatable to the native tongues of our friends across the sea. One thing that is extremely important due to the ease of getting it wrong is translation. Many words do not translate well from one language to the next, which makes it imperative to get the translations correct for your global site.

The Plugin

Translation is a daunting task for any web developer required to build a site that spans the global market. Thankfully WPML makes it easy to build and run multilingual sites. With a single install, you can choose from numerous languages and start translating content.
Once the site is built, now you need to ensure your clients can actually run it. WPML allows you to turn ordinary users into translators, and you have the ability to assign translation tasks. WPML sends notification emails and provides a translation management screen, a jobs-queue, and side-by-side translation editor. WPML also provides professional translation services, should your client not have a translator on hand.
WPML turns regular WordPress themes into multilingual themes without any effort. Just use the WordPress API functions and WPML takes care of the rest. In addition to translating regular content, WPML also allows for translation for theme and plugin text as well as visitor comments.

The Results

Materiell has used WPML for multiple sites. The site for Oliff & Berridge, attorneys at law who practice across the world, required translation from English to Japanese and english to Korean. We used the WPML Multilingual CMS as our client would need the multi-user translation management, XLIFF interface, and CMS navigation.