Find out what opportunities for multilingualism you have.
Especially if you invest a lot of time in high-quality content, the upgrade to multilingualism is worthwhile: The chance is high that your content is also relevant in other countries. Especially for online shops, the European internal market is attractive.
If there are several options, a technology test is important – only in this way can you see which option best meets your requirements.
In this article we give an overview of different concepts and solutions for multilingualism in WordPress.
No technology, no problems?
What would actually happen if you simply worked with the means that WordPress offers
… so on the same installation provide content in different languages?
Pages and categories could simply be named and structured according to the respective language – for news articles, for example, simply a category “News DE” and a category “News EN”.
- No technical expenses
- No dependencies
- Faulty Structured Data,it would have to be ensured that subpages in other languages are not delivered with faulty lang codes – otherwise, for example, German content appears and search engines try to interpret english content.
- Without a corset, there is a risk of implementation and logic errors,there is no technique that supports.
- A later migration to a system with Multi Lang support would be very time-consuming,as the content would usually have to be re-entered.
The No Structure approach works when individual contents in other languages are the absolute exception. This could greatly reduce the technical overhead.
There are only minor technical hurdles, but also hardly any possibilities. However, a later conversion into a system with more possibilities would be very time-consuming.
A separate installation for each language
It is not unusual that a clone of the website is simply set up for each language and maintained separately, e.B as separate (sub)-domains or subdirectories. Especially with large international companies, it is common for the content of the websites of the respective countries to be maintained almost completely and autonomously by the individual country teams.
- clean separation
- lean installations
- hardly any hurdles
- local hosting possible
- More complex deployment concept for maintenance & updates.
- Synchronization and maintenance of shared elements, such as content elements, headers, footer & menus complex.
- Danger of a “drifting apart” of the individual installations, e.B. by country-specific special rules
The multi-instance approach is advantageous if each country is to be maintained as autonomously as possible by separate teams.
If content is to be exchanged or synchronized between the individual instances, however, you often end up in a dead end here.
A small upgrade to the No Structure approach would be lean structure, i.e. a scenario where multilingualism is basically taken into account, but the overhead is as low as possible.
Content can continue to be created and structured as usual – however, you can define the language for each content and the individual pages are thus also set up correctly, so that e.B search engines are not confused.
- low technical expenses
- hardly any dependencies
- Not very suitable for complex websites with a lot of content.
- Little assistance in structuring and managing multilingual content.
- You are already trapped in a systemthat may not map important functions in the long term.
The Lean Structure approach works for prototypes, websites with manageable content and structures and where the effort to get started should be as low as possible.
If comfort functions become more important later or certain structures and processes are required, you quickly reach your limits here.
High Level Structure
As if multilingualism were part of the core
When multilingualism becomes an integral part of the website, one wants to leave the world of compromise and instead a fully integrated multilingualism. By now at the latest, the website is no longer understood merely as a presence or blog, but as a platform for customer communication. Comprehensive support for multilingualism is usually only a critical aspect of many, external or machine translation is intended to relieve the editorial staff.
We recommend choosing the market leader and saving yourself later migration efforts– even if only a part of the functions is needed at the beginning.
- Market leader technology
- strong support for every aspect of multilingualism
- technologically no limits and business support
- License costs and, if necessary, technical support make sense
- Training may be more complex, depending on the scenario
- higher resource consumption
Through a high-level structure, the entire WordPress system is subjected to multilingualism – each component must be compatible, we are talking about an integrated system.
Strong tools are available for this: in addition to translation services, machine translation and collaboration tools to facilitate the management of the website. The maintenance of the website and the translations is strongly assisted.
Multi Instance + Lean/High Level Structure
The Multi Lang Plugin MultilingualPress follows an interesting path by using the WordPress Multi Site function to manage multilingualism. Here you have the advantages of independent content maintenance & layouts from the multi-instance approach combined with a mix of Lean & High Level Structure, i.e. levels 2-4.
In fact, this approach promises to be the most performant for the website. It is also important for each project to check whether the processes work for you – each instance of a multi-site is maintained largely independently. However, the technical maintenance effort is lower than with the pure multi-instance solution.
How much multilingualism do I need?
Think as early as possible about how much multilingualism should influence your project. The four different stages provide orientation.
SEO is not crucial, you now need 1-2 subpages in another language and do not want any additional effort.
You want self-sufficient, strictly separate instances for each language version. The setup is very simple, but the technical maintenance and synchronization is more complex.
You want a clean structure with low overhead. Above all, they work alone on a website, do not need strong structures – and are content with fewer functions.
Multilingualism is an integral part of your website concept, and depending on the complexity of your requirements, you and your team are strongly involved in the possibilities of the Multi Lang solution. They are prepared for the future.
Conclusion and recommendation
For us as web developers, too, it is always a challenge not to advise our customers on the complexity. Just because multilingualism offers fantastic opportunities in level 4 doesn’t mean it’s right for every project.
One of our customers came to us with a Level 4 Multi Lang website and we gave him a individual solution mix of levels 1 and 3 developed – the overhead at level 4 was unnecessary, as the possibilities were hardly exhausted. In the case of new projects, it is also worthwhile, in anticipation of high complexity, to implement multilingualism in stage 4.
Article series: WordPress Multi Lang
This series of articles gives an overview of the current possibilities, advantages and disadvantages as well as an outlook on the future.
You can set up a WordPress website in any language – but not inherently in multiple at the same time. Here’s why.
Multilingualism in WordPress can be achieved in different ways – each has its advantages and disadvantages.
It has never been so easy to make a multilingual website available to an international target group – we show you the concrete possibilities WPML offers.
About the author
Matthias Bathke is Managing Director of straightvisions GmbH. As a GDPR expert and PageSpeed evangelist, he is keen to develop stable and efficient solutions for our customers.
We are happy to advise you so that your WordPress website is optimally set up for multilingualism – just contact us.