Translate your WordPress site with WPML

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Estimated reading time: 4 min

In this article I show you how to use the WPML paid plugin to translate your site into a second language.

Purchasing a License

Since WPML is a paid plugin you will need to purchase one of their licenses in order to use the product and to get updates. Here is a screenshot of their pricing page and at the bottom you can see the renewals are at a discounted price.

Choose a package for your site

After purchase you will have access to a downloads section in your WPML account. From there download the latest plugins.

Download area of your account at WPML
Download area of your account at WPML

Installing the plugins

In your WordPress dashboard go to “Plugins > Add New” to install your plugins.

Install the WPML plugins
Install the WPML plugins

After installing each plugin you will have to activate them.

Plugin activation
Plugin activation

The configuration wizard

Once all plugins are installed you will see a blue button on the top area of your dashboard that says “Configure WPML”. When you click on it you will go through several steps to configure the plugin in your site.

Configure the plugin
Configure the plugin

The first step is to establish the content language you are using in the site. Since it is English we just leave that and click on the blue “Next” button.

Choose the current site language
Choose the current site language

On this next screen you choose what language you will be translating into. You can choose several languages at a time. For our demo I am only translating into Spanish.

Choose the languages you will be translating into
Choose the languages you will be translating into

Next you can configure the Menu language switcher which is a way for you to change languages while you are navigating the site.  WPML adds this to the beginning or end of the current menu you are using.

Add a language switcher to your site
Add a language switcher to your site

Configure your language switcher the way you want to. At the top right you can see a preview of how the menu items will look.

Language switcher options screen
Language switcher options screen

Step #4 is to choose if you want to send data to WPML to report compatibility issues. Choose an option and then click next to go to step #5.

Compatibility reporting
Compatibility reporting

For step #5 you will need your WPML site key. You can get this in your account page in the WPML site.

You need your site key from your WPML account
You need your site key from your WPML account

On your account at WPML.org you will see an option that says “Register WPML on your sites”. Click that to be taken to the site management screen.

You need your site key from your WPML account

In this area you can create a new site with the domain you are using or get the key from a site that has already been registered. Click “show key” to see it and copy it.

Add a new site or show the key of an existing one
Add a new site or show the key of an existing one
Adding a new site

Back on your site, add the key or click the “Remind me later” button. Then click the blue “Finish” button.

Finishing the configuration
Finishing the configuration

Once you have finished all these configurations you will be taken to the main WPML page where you can change several settings like add more languages or the URL format for the languages.

More configuration options
More configuration options

After you have done all of this, go to your homepage and refresh the page. You will now see a flag in the current language. Once you start adding languages to your content another flag will show for the translation.

Check your homepage to see the language switcher
Check your homepage to see the language switcher

Translating posts or pages

In order to start translating your posts or pages go to the page list for example and there will be a new column next to the page titles. Since you are just starting to translate your site you will only see the plus (+) sign in that column.  If you hover over this icon you will see the message “Add translation to [your language]”. Click the icon to start translating the page.

Click the + icon to add a translation
Click the + icon to add a translation

Once you click on the plus sign you will get a blank page and you need to add your title and content, but before doing that you can use a handy tool that WPML gives us. A button that says “Copy content from English”. This will copy all your design (if you are using a page builder for example) into your new language page. 

Copy content from English version
Copy content from English version

From there you will have to edit the texts to their corresponding translations. 

Translate the page
Translate the page

After saving the new translation go view your site and click on that page. You will see now two flags indicating that there is a translation in another language. Click that flag to verify your translation.

Flag indicates there is a translation of your page
Flag indicates there is a translation of your page

Check your translated page.

Checking your translated page
Checking your translated page

In order to keep translating you need to go back to the pages area and change the language to English (the original language) in order to view your posts.

Change the language on the top bar to view your original pages
Change the language on the top bar to view your original pages

Troubleshooting

For this demo I used the Kadence theme with one of their starter templates. Once I did my translation some things were moved around like the title of the page became centered and there was a block with the title added to the page.

It was easy to remove the extra block.

Removing extra block that appeared in translated page
Removing extra block that appeared in translated page

Afterwards, I had to go to the customizer > Page Layout and reset the Page Title Layout to Left align. This fixed the problems.

Editing the other pages/posts

If you go back to the pages area you will see in the language column that the pages that have already been translated have a pencil icon on them. In order to keep translating, choose the pages/posts that have the plus (+) sign in that column until you finish with all of them.

How to know what has been translated
How to know what has been translated

Translating the Menu

In my demo I forgot to show how to translate the menus for your site but it’s really easy. First go to “Appearance > Menus”. On the right side of the page, on top of the “Save Menu” button you will see “Translations: +[your language]”. Click on that to create your translated menu.

Create the menu in the new language
Create the menu in the new language

To create the menu, give it a title, add the display location (Menu settings) and the click the “Create Menu” button. You can see below the Menu Name the language in which you are creating this menu.

Configure your menu
Configure your menu

Once the menu is created you will be able to see the pages/posts that have been translated and you can add them to your menu. Remember to save your menu after you add the pages.

Add translated posts/pages to the menu
Add translated posts/pages to the menu

Resources

WPML – https://wpml.org/

Thank you for reading.

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