If you are hoping to expand your business abroad, one of the first steps you will take will be to translate your website. To help create a successful multilingual website, WPML has spoken to a number of expert WordPress developers – some who are part of WPML’s Contractors scheme – for their tips.

You can check out our summary of the best tips. Below is what our developers told us in full.

 

What is BHI Consulting: BHI Consulting was one of the first official WPML Contractors and has helped hundreds of clients with WPML related issues.

In your experience what features have been most beneficial for businesses which build a successful multilingual website?

I think the features that are most beneficial would be the ease with which all the different elements are added and how much already is translated after properly setting up and configuring WPML.

What are the common misconceptions businesses have about creating a multilingual website?

Many businesses want to add >5 different languages, but they often forget that when making content available in those languages, clients also expect to be able to contact them in those languages. Getting a professional translation is one thing, but hiring people specifically to be able to reply to contact forms that have been submitted through the site is probably bit too much in most cases.

Another misconception is that Google is good enough to translate content. It never is, especially not for a business.

The last misconception is that to be able to keep the site humming along with a few additional languages, it is necessary to upgrade the shared hosting package of $3.95/month 🙂

Give some insight into the process of building the website. What are the first steps you take with the client, what happens in the first meeting, how often do you update them etc

This is a bit difficult to answer for us as due to our geographical location (first China, now Azores) we hardly ever meet our clients. We pride ourselves successfully working remotely for more than 10 years and we have a little different process than someone in Yorksville working with local clients.

What should businesses prepare before they commit to building a multilingual website?

See the misconceptions question. Businesses should be prepared to invest in professional translations and should be aware that every language added to the site, will need someone who can reply to requests made in that language.

What are the best plugins for businesses?

WPML, Gravity Forms, ACF Pro, SEO Framework, WP Rocket, Lean WP

What is BHI Consulting: Milan is a consultant in website development, security and optimization who has more than seven years of experience. He has worked as a WPML certified contractor for more than 2 years.

In your experience what features have been most beneficial for businesses which build a successful multilingual website?

Well, in my experience most of the businesses who needed a multilingual website were the ones who had some online business (mostly e-commerce based). Having that in mind, the possibility to quickly set up new languages and to translate shopping items was always crucial. Also, the possibility to translate URLs (slugs) is very important in terms of SEO.

What are the common misconceptions businesses have about creating a multilingual website?

In most of the cases, business owners believe that their website will end up with a reduced performance (speed issues etc.), but that’s only half true. Implementing multilingual mechanism will only expand the current state of a website, which means it will increase already existing optimization issues (not introduce new ones).

Having this in mind, a properly optimized website is something that should be a requirement, before introducing any kind of advanced layers (including multilingual mechanism).

Give some insight into the process of building the website. What are the first steps you take with the client, what happens in the first meeting, how often do you update them etc?

Initial steps should always involve a clear definition of the project, requirements, timeframes, and the number of hours needed to complete the project. Good communication is the key. Also, it is always a good idea to invest some hours (both client and developer/consultant) to investigate possible infrastructure issues, scalability, already existing implementations (i.e. plugins or services) and to have this as a first ‘milestone’ before actually starting to develop. Honestly, my experience related to project management so far tells me that: “Weeks of planning can save you days of coding”… 🙂

What should businesses prepare before they commit to building a multilingual website?

They should only prepare a good and reliable consultant who is willing to talk them through and a list of questions and concerns… 🙂

What are the best plugins for businesses?

This can’t be answered in such a simple form. It depends on a specific use case and needs. Plugins are a great thing in general, but like everything, if we overdo it we will get the opposite effect.

Are there any significant benefits to having a multilingual website that businesses are not aware of when they first contact you?

Yes, businesses are usually not aware of SEO effects that can be accomplished with a properly setup a multilingual website. Also, they are not aware of the problems they can have if they don’t do it (and maintain it) properly.

What are some of the top tips you’d give for businesses thinking about creating a multilingual website?

  1. Optimize everything before introducing a multilingual website.
  2. Find a good and reliable consultant to walk you through every step of the way.
  3. Measure everything (speed, number of requests, SEO score)
  4. Optimize everything after introducing a multilingual website.
  5. Keep in mind if your current infrastructure (plugins) will be compatible with the multilingual plugin of your choice (this can be a real issue and end up with months of custom work, and thousands of dollars invested in something which was not properly planned in the beginning).

How can businesses make your life as a developer easier when you are building their website?

Clear requests, communication, and friendly approach. Also, basic knowledge of ‘how stuff works’ in terms of websites is something that is useful as well.

Anything else you’d like to add which you think would help a business?

Plan, communicate, implement, review, optimize, repeat… 🙂 Form long-term business relationships with your developers/consultants/teams. Approach projects with a clear head, expect around 80% of your initial idea realization (the final 20% will always be very hard to achieve and very expensive).

Most importantly, have fun and experiment. That is the only way to stay in the game long-term… 🙂

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