In the era of globalization today, if you want to reach customers from all over the world, a website with only one language may not be enough. Therefore, using plugins to translate WordPress websites has become more popular than ever. Translation plugins are also becoming more competitive to meet the various needs of users. In this article, we will deep dive into the review and comparison of the most 4 popular translation plugins: WPML (premium), and free versions of Polylang, TranslatePress, and Weglot.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Translation Plugin
This is the most important criterion when we evaluate a translation plugin. You need to know whether the plugin supports your desired languages or not, for example, Right-to-left language (RTL), Latin, etc.
Furthermore, when your multilingual website has a lot of readers from different countries, the more languages it supports, the more advantages you have. Therefore, you should pay attention to the number of supported languages.
There are 2 types of supported content:
- Basic content: translate the content of posts, themes (widgets, menus, categories, taxonomies), plugins, page URLs, ...
- Advanced content: translate the content of image URLs, WooCommerce pages, custom fields, custom post types, page builders, ...
Currently, there are 2 popular Translation Methods: manual translation and automatic translation.
Manual translation is translating the content manually. It's like writing another language version to replace the original.
Automatic translation means that the plugin will automatically translate the content with its available dictionary.
Each method has its own pros and cons. Therefore, if any plugin combines both of them, that'll be an advantage.
In addition, some plugins provide other translation services to meet the various needs of users. For example, they allow a third party / a translator to participate in the manual translation or provide professional translation services.
This is a very important factor because it affects your translation experience. A friendly interface will help you to translate or connect with your needed languages more easily and faster.
After learning about the criteria for evaluating a translation plugin, let's dive in each one:
The free version of Polylang supports more than 90 languages, including RTL languages. In addition, you can simply add your own custom languages.
Using Polylang, you only have one style for the language transition button. It's a widget that can be placed in the menu, footer, sidebar, or any other widget areas as below:
You have only one style for the language transition button
Polylang supports translating the content of themes, articles, pages, media, taxonomies, page builders, ...
Especially, unlike other plugins, Polylang translates menus by creating a separate one for each language version. This section is also located in the Menu section of WordPress. Thus, it's quite convenient.
Translate menu by creating a separate menu for each language version
As for translating WooCommerce pages, you must purchase a premium extension called Polylang for WooCommerce.
Setting up and installing the Polylang plugin is pretty quick and easy with just a few clicks. However, I find that there is no search bar in the language selecting section, so searching manually is quite time-consuming.
Searching manually is quite time-consuming
The free version of Polylang now only allows you to manually translate. To have the automatic translation feature, you have to install a third-party plugin like Lingotek Translation.
With this method, you just need to add this automatic translation only when you really need it, hence avoiding the redundancy of an unused feature. In addition, Lingotek Translation is also free and it includes professional translation services. On the other hand, the plugin installation may take up extra space on the website.
Polylang's interface is very easy-to-use and familiar.
To translate the content of pages / posts, just create a translation (similar to creating a new post / page in WordPress) then connect it to the original version. You can do it all in the WordPress Editor interface (like the below image).
Posts / pages translation interface
Translating tags, categories is even easier because you can do it right in the Tag, Category sections of WordPress.
Category translation interface
The free version of TranslatePress supports many languages: more than 120, including RTL.
Additionally, you can create your own custom languages using additional code.
TranslatePress can translate almost anything, from the content of themes, plugins, menus, page builders to URLs. This plugin can even translate shortcodes, WooCommerce pages, and Gutenberg blocks that the free version of Polylang doesn't support.
Installing and using TranslatePress is also pretty quick. However, the TranslatePress plugin's setup is a bit more complicated than Polylang. On the other hand, in the language settings, TranslatePress is more convenient than Polylang because you can search for languages faster.
TranslatePress can search for languages faster
You have up to three options for displaying the language transition button (just less than WPML) as follows:
Three options for the language transition button
In addition to creating a bilingual or a multilingual site by manual translation, this plugin also has an automatic translation mode. In the plugin's settings page, you just need to link your site to Google Translate with Google API Key.
With TranslatePress, you can manually change the content of the automatic translations, but only when they haven't been published. This is a special and advanced feature of TranslatePress compared to other plugins.
The most outstanding feature of TranslatePress is translating all content right in the front end. This helps you to track your translation results visually, easily, and save your time. Moreover, the translating interface is quite similar to the familiar Customizer interface. Therefore, you'll get used to it more easily.
Translation interface of TranslatePress
WPML supports 60 languages including RTL. You can also change or add your own custom languages very easily and quickly.
The section to change / add custom languages
You can translate almost all content such as widgets, taxonomies, custom fields, categories, menus, URLs, page builders content, ... However, the number of supported content depends on the package you buy. For example, in the Multilingual CMS and Multilingual Agency packages, you can translate the content of WooCommerce pages, page builders, and custom fields.
WPML doesn't have any free version, so you must purchase one of the following premium packages: Multilingual Blog, Multilingual CMS, and Multilingual Agency.
Depending on each package, you'll have different plugins (each one is a feature). After activating all the plugins of the package, you'll see an instruction page to install and connect to the WPML account. It's quite easy to understand.
WPML's language transition button is quite flexible with 5 styles (the biggest number among the translation plugins in this article).
Five styles to switch languages display
WPML supports more translation methods than the three free plugins above, including automatic, manual translation, and allowing other users / third parties to translate.
Allowing other users to translate is authorizing other users in WordPress to be translators regardless of their roles on the page. In addition, WPML allows you to use professional 3rd party translation services as well.
As you can see, WPML has the most various translation methods. It's suitable for individuals, organizations, and professional websites.
WPML's translation interface is quite similar to the Polylang's interface because you have to work in the WordPress Editor.
Create a translation for post / page in the Editor
However, WPML only generates a translation here. After that, you'll translate on the back end like this:
Translating posts / pages content interface
The translation interface is quite native and makes it easy for you to compare the two translations. However, post formatting can be a bit difficult and the fields for translating are quite small.
To translate a taxonomy, you must go to the Settings section of WPML, not in the Taxonomy section of WordPress like Polylang. I find that the interface is well balanced and clear.
Taxonomies translation interface
Weglot also supports many languages, up to 100+ languages, including RTL. However, you can only translate a limited number of words in the free version (2000 words per language).
Finally, I don't see the section to add custom languages in this plugin.
Weglot supports translating a variety of content including all posts, pages, themes, plugins, page builders content, ... Notably, Weglot will scan all texts on your website's front end to translate. Thus, you don't have to worry about whether your themes and plugins are compatible with Weglot or not.
To use Weglot, you have to set up the plugin first by creating an account and getting the API key. This is a bit time-consuming, but not difficult at all. In particular, language selecting is quite easy with advanced search.
Choosing languages easily with the advanced searching section
After you set up, the options to configure Weglot will appear. However, these options are organized in a long list and aren't divided into tabs. Therefore, it may be difficult to find the necessary parts to work with.
Weglot supports only one language transition button style. It's the fixed button at the bottom of the screen.
Weglot also combines automatic and manual translation. Unlike other plugins in this article, after setting up and connecting to your Weglot account, your website is automatically translated without any additional setup required. Besides, you can edit the translations manually easily like TranslatePress. But when using Weglot, you can do it even after all translations are published.
The advantage of this plugin is the ability to combine both automatic and manual translations at the same time. However, automatic translation can't be 100% perfect as you want. Therefore, you have to review and double-check to see if the translated content is okay.
Weglot doesn't translate in the front end or back end. Alternatively, it provides you with an account on Weglot to translate.
The interface is beautiful and clean with 2 tabs placed side by side symmetrically so that users can compare the original version and the translation easily. To edit a translation, just click each part and edit it quickly.
Hopefully, after reading this review, you can easily choose a suitable translation plugin for your site. Each plugin has its own advantages and even some weaknesses compared to the others. And remember, there are some other things you should consider when choosing a translation such as your needs, your website's features, your budget, ... Therefore, you should carefully review them to choose the best one for your site.
The publication at GretaThemes.
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