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We are a humane web agency from Montréal. We are not native English speakers When I started giving lectures in English, I decided to give this warning in the begining.
When I say otter, I mean other. But we’re here to talk about WordPress and multilingual content.
2014 was an important year for WP. For the first time in history, the non-English downloads of WordPress surpassed the English downloads.
As WordPress will continue democratizing publishing, download stats will hopefully look like this
Problem is many countries and regions are multilingual. You all know that : There is many countries, such as Belgium or Canada, which are officially multilingual. But they may have many monolinguals in their population. Officially monolingual countries, on the other hand, such as France, can have sizable multilingual populations. There’s obviously a need for multilingual websites.
And what about WordPress ? The first line of the Codex makes it clear : WordPress does not support a bilingual or multilingual blog out-of-the box. Woups. We’ll come back to that in a few minutes. But before, let’s talk about the multilingual web.
Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent access to some people or group of people. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality. Speaking japanese has nothing to do with being blind. It’s not a handicap. But I really think we have to see multilingualism as a matter of accessibility. And we’ll go through a few good practices and advice.
Basically, if you don’t want to translate, don’t do it. Anybody can google translate themselves.
A single language is spoken in many countries. A single country can have multiple languages. Your visitors are not flag-spotters.
For instance with Chinese there are 2 types of Chinese Characters that different nations read: + Simplified (China) + Traditional (Taiwan, Singapore, HK) How is a flag supposed to represent those nations? Would people from Singapore somehow think they should click the Taiwan flag?
Provide users a list of language names in their that language. So instead of “English, Spanish, German…” offer users “English, Español, Deutsch”.
If you need to use Icons, use neutral ones. For instance, this one one a design prize last year Or use a globe ?
This exemple is taken from the Israelian ministry of foreign affairs. The site on the left is in Persian. On the right is in English. Persian reads right to left. Eglish left to right. Navigation has switched sides. And content is adapted to the language (ex : slider).
You should always use only one language per post or page. If you need to quote, use the lang attibute. Helpful for Google and readers for blind people.
Describe. This is what happens when translators translate without context.
First thing we have to do is make sure WordPress and themes and plugins are shown in the correct language for the visitor.
When you install WordPress, you can choose which language you want. If you missed it during installation, you can choose it later on in the general settings. Once this choice has beeen made, WordPress will download what they call now “language packs”, which are basically files containing the translated strings themselves. These translations will be used for the whole WP interface.
Some of your theme and plugins may or may not have the language packs installed or updated since the install. In the software update page, you’ll see a translation section if there are new translations available. There is not much details on which translations you can get when you click the button. It’s fairly new… But it will go grab all the languages packs that exists in the repository for everyhting you’ve got installed on your site.
Very recently, language packs have been made available for all themes and plugins developers that use the official repository. For commercial plugins and themes, developers have to manage their translation their own way. You have to check with your vendor or find language packs for translation vendors themselves.
If there’s no language pack or you want to edit the language pack, you can install the Loco Translate plugin. Which allows you to create and edit language packs. Obviously, your themes and plugins will need to be coded correctly to work with language packs. Which is not the case right now for all plugins and themes. So sometimes, it will not work. And you may suffer.
What does translating media even mean, in the context of WordPress? Custom header: good luck! We won’t cover this.
The joy of Custom Fields. Some needing to be translated, some not. Some needing to be synchronised, some not.
Also, a lot of hidden custom fields. Used extensively by plugins and themes. Example: custom fields for a single WooCommerce product.
More plugins = more custom fields = higher possibility of breakage.
Now I get to show off my superior drawing skills.
Qtranslate: the original solution. Barely maintained for very long. Many semi-maintained forks. Now fixed!
Blue border indicates translatable fields
Empty “Navigation Label”: recommended way to remove an item for a specific language Untranslated page: ugh.
Note: in the backend, that’s actually what’s saved in the database for all translated fields.
A popular approach.
WPML: the “automatic” recommendation, but it’s big, slow and buggy Polylang: WPML redone right way (according to us anyway) Babble: made by Code For The People, recently acquired by Automattic. nacin @WCSF: “if we were to do multilingual in Core, that’s how we’d do it”. We think the Core people need to take a better look at Polylang.
Screenshots will be from Polylang, but WPML looks very similar.
Adding a plugin allows linking posts & terms translations together.
Screenshots are from Multisite Langue Switcher.
Of note: all of these are meant to output a list of languages. Usually, they’ll want to display the current language too. Not ideal for our usual bilingual setup where we only want to display a single link to the other language.
This is Localizejs’ translation interface. Others exist: Bablic, Transifex Live. Localizejs = recommended multilingual solution for Squarespace.
Let’s open the floor.
Multilingual content with WordPress
Languages spoken wordwide
Source and date unknown
(but nice chart)
The list of multilingual countries
and regions is huuuuuge!
“We recommend that you do not allow automated translations to
get indexed. (...) they could potentially be viewed as spam.
If your users can’t understand an automated translation or if it
feels artificial to them, you should ask yourself whether you
really want to present this kind of content to them.”
- Google :)
Flags are not languages.
Don’t use flags as language switchers.
I speak français, not French.
Provide a list of
languages in their
This is English size 18
Adjust your font size to
If you must quote in another language, use the lang attribute:
<p>Cette présentation est emmerdante</p>
Don’t mix and match
languages inside a
A nice to have.
A user lands on a German page. They can get to the French
version of the same page with a single click. But there’s no clear
data on how often it is used.
(+ it might help with SEO).
Adapt your design.
Length of words varies
from language to language.
Especially true in multilingual sites
to solving content translation
Each post has multiple languages
Mark translations manually when fields not handled by plugin
Each post has multiple languages
Easy navigation between
translations in admin
Manual codes allow handling
of arbitrary fields
Now properly maintained
Easiest for custom fields
synchronisation: just leave
“Just filter everything” is still
a questionable software
Modifies admin interface
quite a lot
Manual codes not beginner-
Can’t translate URLs (as of
Each post has a single language
Each post has a single language
Many options to choose from
Interface looks more
(Arguably) better software
Settings translations complex
Custom fields handling
[WPML] Not free
[Babble] Does not allow
creation of content in
languages other default
Each site has a single language
Multisite & plugin:
Each site has a single language
Plugins optional: yay for
Only solution for
Most compatible plugins out
of the box
All settings translatable
Multiple WP installs:
Multisite: installation and
hosting somewhat more
Most complex for custom
Zanto, Multilingual Press not
Take translation out of WordPress
On each page view:
1.Collect all strings on the page
2.Send original strings to the service
3.Service returns approved translations
4.If approved translation exists, replace
string with it
5.If not, add translation job in the service
Manage translations in service’s web app (here: Localizejs)
Localization as a service
Proper translation tool:
Translate content and
Nothing needed in
Translate media, i.e. use
different images in
SEO impact unknown
Not free or open source
Enregistrer les diapositives les plus importantes en les clippant
La fonction clipper permet de recueillir et d’organiser en toute simplicité les diapositives les plus importantes d’une présentation. Vous pouvez conserver vos trouvailles dans des clipboards classés par thèmes.