Ways of Translating a WordPress Theme for Improving Accessibility

Setting up a WordPress website is a simple process and can be made even easier by using the multitude of free plugins available for download. WordPress themes are generally expected to be localized and ready for translation, but sometimes it can take a few extra steps to prepare your theme for translation. 

There are multiple ways to translate your site with a plugin being the simplest and a .po file editor being the most customizable. Both of these methods provide a translation for your website to broaden your audience and reach more people worldwide. 

Many people would like to create a website but are unsure how to get started, which is why WordPress has become one of the most popular web hosting sites. If you don’t have the expertise in house, a website design firm can help ease the process by creating a high-quality website for you. They will also have the expertise to help with the translation aspects of your site to ensure your site is optimized for different languages.

Let’s dig into why translation is so important for your WordPress site, and how you can execute on a translation strategy. First, we need to understand what translating your website actually means.

What is Website Translation?

Translation for your WordPress website is precisely what it sounds like. Translating the text of your site into one or many languages to allow for a broader audience. This can be done in a few ways and are both relatively simple to accomplish. 

One method of translation is to integrate the languages into the website codes, and your site will automatically change to the language set by the user in their account settings. Another is to add a translation widget to your website allowing the user to choose their language from a pull-down menu. 

There are pros and cons within these two strategies, and you have to choose what works best for your site. 

Why You Would Want to Translate Your Site?

While English is a popular language, it is by no means the most spoken language in the world. There are hundreds of millions of people who speak Mandarin Chinese or Spanish, and many do not know English. With language translation, you can tailor your website to your target market and help your company grow. 

By translating your site into other languages, you let people know that they are essential to your company. People are more likely to use your site if they don’t have to translate the text themselves, and they have a higher opinion of your company when you offer this simple feature. 

Opportunity for International Readers

WordPress is equipped to provide you with international readers and to grow your website all around the world. Many readers may know English as a second language, but it is helpful for them to read your site in their native language. If you have your WordPress site set up for automatic translation, then your readers are more likely to return to your site. 

With the availability to translate into multiple languages, your site can be prepared to launch in more countries and reach more people. Many basic translation applications are inaccurate or do not convey the same tone from the original document. Automatic plugins are the most accessible once they are set up. 

WordPress Themes

Some themes are already set up for the translation plugins, and these are highly recommended if you are unfamiliar with setting up your own system of translation. Your theme must be localized on the network for it to work and must have the proper framework. 

There are many free themes available for use that are ready for translation and many more available for a cost. There is a small amount of alteration to the files that must be done to get your site prepared for translation, but it is much easier with a theme already set up for it. With themes already set up for translation, there are only a few simple steps to translate your website on WordPress. 

External Plugins

Many different plugins can provide a translation of your site but require a theme that is already set up for translation. These often come equipped with other tools such as SEO or analytic compatibility. These plugins often have different bonus features in addition to translation and SEO to make your website function more efficiently. 

Automatic translators use machine translation and can be slightly inaccurate but allow for faster translation. The translation files are created for each language and displayed to individuals with that language selected in their settings. Translation websites such as GTranslate can be tied to your page and translate automatically. 

Some plugins will have the site automatically translated to the language set by the user, and others will provide an option on the page to translate into the language of their choice. Paid versions of plugins will come with the ability to edit your translations and 

Manual Method of Translation:

A .po editor will allow you to translate each string of text on your site, but you must do them individually. This editor grants access to the .po and .mo files within the theme and allows you to create new translations. Poedit is a major translation tool if you want to translate each string of text yourself rather than use an automated translator. 

If you use a .po editor, you have more control over the translation, and you can keep the same tone as your original language. 


If you choose to use a file editor and do the translation yourself, you have better control over your site, and if you speak another language fluently, this may be the better option. For those that want to share their websites with people outside of the languages they speak, the plugin option may be right for you. 

A large number of people accessing the internet come from outside the United States, and it is essential to help them feel comfortable with your website. The majority of people will feel better ordering from your website or signing up for an account if they can read your site in their own language rather than having to guess. 

Make your website worldwide by offering translation on your site, so your target market will better understand your business and your company. The first impression of a website is crucial, and translation can improve it drastically and allow your site to influence more people. 

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Gabe Nelson
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