The search for the perfect WordPress multilingual plugin was a tricky one, but after trying several alternatives, I finally found the perfect solution to creating a bilingual site.
The brief was to create a site for a local council report, and as we’re in Wales, it’s therefore essential to publish all such material in both Welsh and English.
WordPress was my platform of choice, self hosted of course, so that I could install plugins to give me the functionality I needed.
A free WordPress multilingual plugin ?
Let’s be real about this. We all like free as a price point.
It’s amazing what you can get for free these days.
So when I first began searching for a free wordpress multilingual plugin to make my site bilingual, I fully expected to have a few options, and I wasn’t (initially) disappointed.
At the time I was putting my bilingual site together, this plugin still worked. Since WordPress 4.0, it no longer works.
Therein lies a big lesson!
Imagine if I had fully developed my site using this free plugin. Suddenly WordPress gets updated and bang, the site is inaccessible.
Moreover, months have now gone by and the plugin has not been updated. In fact, it’s now been declared dead.
I then discovered another plugin based on QTranslate.
This plugin is also free, and is based on QTranslate. Unlike its parent, this version has been updated and now works with WordPress 4.0.
However, I would urge caution based on my experience. I’d started to develop a site using this plugin, and had translated a number of pages and posts.
At some point in time, a new version of WordPress was released, and disaster struck. The plugin broke. Now, instead of my nicely translated page titles, it was just displaying little tags, like language shortcodes throughout the site.
It looked a total mess. Unreadable. Any visitor would have just left instantly.
Thankfully, this happened when the site in question was still in development, so it wasn’t live. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with that mess on a live site.
I decided to uninstall it, thinking that at least my primary language posts would be in tact.
This wasn’t the case either, and all those little language tags/shortcodes remained in all the page and post titles, and it took more time to clean everything up.
Back to the drawing board.
Here’s a confession, I only found out about this plugin after I’d already starting using WPML, but I did check it out briefly.
WPBeginner ran an article on it, and the screenshots looked reasonably useful in that it seems to cater for more than just translation of posts. Through its “strings” translation you can also edit the multilingual versions of the site title, description, widget text and so on.
I have to say I was impressed, but there are definitely shortcomings. The main drawback as far as I could tell was that it could not cater for Genesis menus, as many Genesis themes do not use the standard primary/secondary menus.
Perhaps there is a solution to this, but after briefly Googling it, all I found were other people like me, surprised at the lack of support for Genesis, given its popularity.
So, what’s the best WordPress multilingual plugin?
I needed a proper, reliable way to make my website bilingual that was easy to use, and robust enough to not break when WordPress gets updated.
That’s when I discovered the solution, a commercial wordpress multilingual plugin with enough development history and muscle behind it, that you just knew it would be robust enough to do the job.
It’s the gold standard WordPress multilingual plugin.
It’s so flexible, it seems there is nothing you cannot translate with it.
The first site I created using it was for the Conwy Social Services Annual Report.
Every part of the site is fully bilingual, and it’s all down to WPML. It made the task a lot easier.
In addition, it includes the facility to assign translator roles to users, so you can allocate work to team members, who can then track what needs translating, and what’s been done. This could be a significant time saver.
What I also particularly like about it is that it’s made by the same folks who produce the excellent Types and Views plugins.
If you’re not familiar, this excellent Toolset (as it’s also known) is perfect for designing custom post types and creating unique, dynamic views and content templates to help you to generate some unique functionality, all without knowing any PHP code.
WPML is made by the same folks, so it integrates with Toolset perfectly. Another reason to get it.
So, from someone who initially struggled, to someone who was quite easily able to create a fully bilingual Welsh/English site, I heartily recommend WPML as the solution to the problem.
Do you need help creating a bilingual Welsh version of your site?
If you need to have a site updated to become bilingual, but don’t fancy spending the time doing it yourself, you could hire me to do it for you.
Please use my contact page.