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August 2, 2017

Do you know why Toyotas are reliable and easy to maintain? It is because they were designed to be reliable and low-maintenance. This is not by chance, but by design. Similarly, for multilingual websites, if you design to make translation easy, they will be easy to translate.

Custom types, fields, and taxonomy make multilingual websites easy for your clients to translate and for you to maintain.

Custom post types make it easy to find and translate the right content

Large websites have lots of content, some are absolutely necessary to translate and some are not. When you use custom post types (CPT), you create a strong separation between different pieces of content. This separation exists in the WordPress admin and in WPML’s Translation Dashboard.

Let’s say you have a ‘showcase’ section. You can create the showcase entries as regular WordPress pages and create one top-level ‘showcase’ page that has showcase items as its children pages.

However, the right way to store the showcase is by creating a custom post type called showcase and keeping all the showcase items as entries for that type.

This table compares what happens when you use standard WordPress pages and a dedicated custom post type:

Standard WordPress pages Dedicated custom post type
How it appears in the WordPress admin As pages, among many other pages As separate entries in the CPT listing page
The listing page A regular page, where you list the different items An archive page that WordPress creates for you
Individual items Regular pages, limited to the fields that pages have Customized editing pages, separate for the type that you created
How it appears in WPML’s Translation Dashboard Mixed with other pages Organized separately and easy to find

So, you can see that using a custom post type has only benefits. It makes it easier to enter content, to display it, and to locate it for translation. But that’s just the beginning.

Custom fields and taxonomy make it easy to display and translate content

The real potential of using custom post types is in using custom fields and taxonomy. Custom fields and taxonomy allow you to add pieces of information to posts.

For example, if our showcase needs the site’s URL, the name and email of the person who submitted it, and a screenshot, we use custom fields to hold all these items. Additionally, if we want to organize our showcase into categories, we create a ‘showcase category’ taxonomy for that.

Post editor featuring our custom fields
Post editor featuring our custom fields

Now it’s easy to edit showcase sites, since the editor only needs to fill in fields, without worrying how the showcase item appears on the front-end.

Custom fields information displayed on the front-end
Custom fields information displayed on the front-end

The showcase item is displayed on the front-end using a template. The template is only designed once and displays all the items in the showcase.

As you can imagine, translating the showcase sites is simple. The translator will only need to translate the texts in the fields, without worrying about the visual design of the page. Furthermore, translators know what they are translating. Each field is clearly marked with its name, so translators can work more accurately and faster.

Ready to start using custom types, fields and taxonomy for your multilingual sites?

Different ways can be used to add custom types, fields and taxonomy to WordPress. The same team which built WPML also created Toolset. Toolset allows you to add custom types, fields and taxonomy to the site’s back-end and display them on the front-end without programming.

Everything that you build with Toolset is easily translatable with WPML. For more help, we have compiled a complete guide on how to translate every part of your Toolset-based site with WPML.