Oct 10

Multilingual Support For WordPress Theme & Plugin Developers

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 11:41 — julie

In our globalized world, more and more economies are becoming interdependent on each other. As a result, it has become imperative for companies to adapt to different cultures, people, and languages. In web design too, support for localization has become almost mandatory.

In fact, nowadays, when a prospective client does a keyword search for your product or service, they are searching in their own native language. If your website does not have the keyword published in their language, your search rank will surely suffer.

Top 10 Internet Users by Language 2011 Top 10 Internet Users by Language (2011)

All said and done, English is no longer the dominant language on the web for eCommerce, especially in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and South America.

Top 10 Content Languages for Websites 2014 Top 10 Content Languages for Websites (2014)

If you compare the amount of non-English internet users and the content produced for them, you will notice that there is a high demand for such content. In terms of themes and plugins too, being translation-ready or internationalized can act as a good USP for your works.

The eCommerce Market and Theme Developers

The eCommerce industry is a trillion-dollar industry with business-to-consumer sales increasing worldwide yearly (according to eMarketer). The hottest market right now is Asia Pacific with a yearly growth of over 30% above US online sales. In fact, Asia Pacific countries, such as China, Japan and South Korea, are expected to overtake North America in business-to-consumer sales growth soon.


As a theme developer, this is a clear sign for you to make sure that your themes and projects are ready for the next eCommerce boom which will happen in the eastern part of the world: being ready for localization is a key factor that can be utilized to attract audiences from Asia Pacific.

However, being translation-ready is not enough. There are several other areas that you need to consider when designing a truly internationalized theme: eCommerce compatibility, a currency switcher, a language switcher, and RTL compatibility. For tips on making your theme Multilingual and WooCommerce ready, check out this Tuts+ article.

Let us discuss each of the above aspects in brief.

Your theme will need a currency switcher. Remember, many European companies need to switch from the Euro to the British pound or to the US Dollar for all of their clients. Many themes do not have this function built-in, so you can grab this opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Another item to add to your theme is a well-designed language switcher. Since we are talking about the multilingual web, a language switcher is needed to transition seamlessly between pages.


Lastly, make sure you do not overlook right-to-left or RTL compatibility. Languages such as Arabic, Farsi/Persian, Hebrew, and Urdu are spoken by a large number of people, and all of these languages are written and read from right to left instead of left to right. In order to be truly translation ready, your theme should be compatible with these languages.

WordPress Multilingual (WPML)

WordPress, due to its popularity, powers many eCommerce and business websites. When it comes to proper localization and support for different languages, the industry standard is WordPress Multilingual (WPML) that is used by over 400,000 commercial websites.

WPML allows you to translate pages, posts, custom post types, taxonomies, menus, and theme texts. Every theme or plugin that uses the WordPress API can support WPML; including eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce, as well as SEO and gallery and slider plugins, and also many of your favorite themes like Avada, Enfold, and hundreds more.

Collaboration with Theme and Plugin Authors

WPML collaborates with theme and plugin authors to ensure that the themes and plugins that they build are fully compatible. If you wish to check the compatibility of your theme or plugin, go to the WPML Go Global page where you can get a free developer version of WPML so that you can test your theme or plugin.

The WPML Compatibility team is composed of 5 full-time developers and consultants that work on the project round the clock. The process is simple: first, theme authors apply to the compatibility program. Next, they set up a test site for the authors to add content to. Next, they run a small test with your theme or plugin and then outline how to fix any known issues. You are then given a subscription to all WPML plugins, which will help you work with our expert developers to locate and fix any known issues with your theme or plugin.

Apply to WPML’s Go Global Compatibility Program today!

Featured Image: Flat icons – Translation and Language by nindze.

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