Localizing your WordPress Website

Search for a professional solution to localize the published content on your WordPress website and you will be faced with such a proliferation of recommendations, solutions and workarounds to get translations (any translation) into the WordPress setup that it be difficult to see through the smoke.

What many of the “solution’s” offer is to translate, often by the use of Google Translate, the content within your admin area of WordPress or within the content of specific plugins. Of course, there are many valid reasons why you would do this, but if your intention is to localize your website to reach global audiences then you need solutions which localize your published content, and only your published content.

WordPress was not built with localization in mind but some features have been developed to enable content to be extracted, translated and reimported. Without using additional plugins, one option is to make a back up of your website, export to a format such as XML, translate and then use that translated XML to rebuild the localized website and host it in a sub-domain or directory. However, the XML export is very difficult for professional CAT tools to work with. It often includes dumps of code from various plugins and the actual content for translation can be difficult to isolate making it a risky solution.

More recent advances have sought to localize the content within the WordPress authoring environment. The plugins designed to do this refer to themselves as multilingual plugins supporting multi language websites. They will facilitate the display of a language switcher and make a copy of your pages, posts etc. which require translation. The more advanced make use of the Google Translate API to automatically translate the copied content. The process is then to be completed by editing the content as you would any WordPress content.

Although the latter solution gets you there, your linguist(s) will not be working within a professional CAT tool environment. There are no consistency checks with translations in other articles, no translation memory database to store translations which can be reused and will save time and money, and no glossary functionality to help ensure your key phrases are translated accurately. There is also the logistics of managing at least one linguist logging into the website to edit the content directly.

However, it is worth mentioning some multilingual plugins have been developed with professional linguists in mind and allow for content to be exported to XLIFF or PO\POT files. These formats, particularly XLIFF, are recognised by all the major CAT tools. The WPML plugin is a good example of a plugin which provides all the features required in the admin area for localization, whilst also supporting exports of CAT friendly files.

Now, imagine a scenario whereby content can be created within WordPress and immediately pushed to a CAT tool environment, professionally translated and pulled back into WordPress and published on a localized version of the original website – all without the website manager leaving the WordPress environment – sounds too good to be true? A number of solutions from LSPs and CAT tool providers have come to the fore which promise to do just that. A multilingual plugin such as WPML or Polylang is commonly required along with the licence for the CAT tool itself. The CAT environment then speaks to WordPress by what is known as a connector and content is exchanged. In most cases be prepared to pay for a licence for both the plugin and CAT tool or work with a LSP and use their instance of the CAT.

This is where LocServe feels that Smartcat has an advantage over other WordPress localization solutions. Smartcat is completely free and has a WordPress connector builtin. Not only that, but the multilingual plugin required to ‘connect’ to Smartcat is Polylang which is also completely free. The configuration is not complex, therefore within a very short space of time, a website manager can be pushing content for translation to professional translators who are working within an advanced CAT tool environment.

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