Translate Your WordPress Site

Word­Press comes with an amount of great ben­e­fits. One of them is the sim­ple fact is ful­ly trans­lat­ed into over 65 lan­guages, and it can be adjust­ed to your language’s char­ac­ter­is­tics as well. We know that this is impor­tant since your audi­ence might be pret­ty nar­row (e.g. Span­ish natives).

If your web­site can be a good source of infor­ma­tion for users that don’t know the main lan­guage, it’s a loss not to make it acces­si­ble for them too. If you invest a lot of time and ener­gy to write valu­able con­tent, then you should also try to make it avail­able as it can be. In the end, you want to share.

It’s good to know that hav­ing a mul­ti-lan­guage web­site involves a bit of effort, but there are also great perks that pay off. For exam­ple, you can increase your search traf­fic up to 47% by mak­ing your web­site avail­able in more than one lan­guage. Not bad, right?

Before you start

You should know that chang­ing the web­site lan­guage from the dash­board area is not enough. Your website’s struc­ture is formed of dif­fer­ent parts of posts, pages, menus or wid­gets. The con­tent of those sec­tions can be added direct­ly to your lan­guage. How­ev­er, there are strings attached, both from the theme and plu­g­ins, that you need to trans­late. Let’s take the fol­low­ing sce­nario: you have a blog web­site, and at the end of each arti­cle you can have a Read more part. Those spe­cif­ic words should be trans­lat­ed into your native lan­guage in order to facil­i­tate access.

The .PO file includes the orig­i­nal texts and the trans­la­tions in two columns. The .MO file incor­po­rates the exact same con­tents as PO file. Keep in mind that the two files dif­fer in their for­mat. While a PO file is easy for humans to read, MO files are com­piled and very easy for com­put­ers to read. Nonethe­less, Word­Press gets trans­la­tions from .MO files.

So, first of all, you need to estab­lish if you only want to change the main lan­guage of your site or to offer the site in mul­ti­ple languages:

  1. Sin­gle Lan­guage: your web­site uses just a sin­gle lan­guage. In this case, all you have to do is to trans­late the theme and the plu­g­ins. Every­thing else, like the con­tent, for instance, is already in your main language;
  2. Mul­ti-Lin­gual: your web­site sup­ports more than one lan­guage so you need to trans­late the con­tent too. As Word­Press does not sup­port this by default, there are some great plu­g­ins that can help you do the job, like WPML.

Depend­ing on the pre­vi­ous two cas­es, there are slight­ly dif­fer­ent steps that you need to take:

1. Change Site Main Language:

  1. Change the lan­guage of Word­Press by going to Set­tings » Gen­er­al » Site Lan­guage field;
  2. We men­tioned about PO/MO files so now is the time to use them for trans­lat­ing the web­site:
    1. Trans­late the theme by down­load­ing trans­la­tion files from our plat­form. You can eas­i­ly find some extra details about this down below;
    2. Trans­late the plu­g­ins by cre­at­ing the PO/MO files. You can dig deep­er here.
  3. Upload the trans­la­tion files, through FTP: 
    1. The theme trans­la­tion files need to be added to wp-con­tent/lan­guages/themes folder;
    2. The plu­g­ins trans­la­tion files need be added to wp-con­tent/lan­guages/­plu­g­ins folder.
  4. Make your trans­la­tions live.

Check out an in-depth arti­cle about trans­lat­ing your theme and plugins.

2. Make a Mul­ti-Lin­gual Site:

  1. Install and acti­vate the core WPML plugins
  2. Con­fig­ure WPML (see the Get­ting Start­ed Guide) by select­ing your default lan­guage, a set of active lan­guages, and a lan­guage selector.
  3. Trans­late all the ele­ments of your website: 
    1. Con­tent of your pages, posts and oth­er cus­tom ele­ments (eg. projects);
    2. Menus;
    3. Wid­gets;
    4. The theme by down­load­ing trans­la­tion files from our plat­form. You can find some more details about this down below;
    5. The plu­g­ins by cre­at­ing the PO/MO files. You can find some more details here.
    6. Any­thing that doesn’t fall inside posts, pages or tax­on­o­my goes into String Trans­la­tion. This includes the site’s tagline, gen­er­al texts in Admin screens, wid­get titles and many oth­er texts. You can find some fur­ther info about this right here.
  4. Upload the trans­la­tion files, through FTP: 
    1. The theme trans­la­tion files need to be added to wp-con­tent/lan­guages/themes folder;
    2. The plu­g­ins trans­la­tion files need be added to wp-con­tent/lan­guages/­plu­g­ins folder.

Translating the Theme

Using our plat­form of trans­la­tions, based on Glot­Press, you can use the trans­la­tions made by oth­er users or cre­ate your own trans­la­tion. This way, you can use oth­er users trans­la­tions or cre­ate your own set of translations.

As you already have an account on our site, you can eas­i­ly go to the Pix­el­grade Trans­late projects and start work­ing on your language.

How to trans­late a project:

  1. Go to the projects list;
  2. Select the project that you are work­ing to;
  3. Click on the lan­guage you would like to trans­late your website;
  4. You can sug­gest a new trans­la­tion for any of the Eng­lish orig­i­nal strings, seen on the left. Just click on Details but­ton from the end of the line and add your suggestion;
  5. Once you fin­ished your trans­la­tion, go to the bot­tom of the page and select to Export all cur­rent as Portable Object Mes­sage Cat­a­log (.po);
  6. You need to export one more file, the Machine Object Mes­sage (.mo), the same way you did on step 5;
  7. Those two are the files you need to copy on your website.

Note that if your web­site will be mul­ti-lan­guage, you need to down­load the set of PO/MO files for every lan­guage. Then repeat the steps from How to trans­late a project sec­tion for each lan­guage of your website.


Are your themes compatible with WPML?

Yes — here is the offi­cial list of WPML cer­ti­fied themes.

Updated on April 30, 2017

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