Many residents of the Greek village of Mirtos live off tourism. For Mirtos, effective advertising can make the difference between prosperity and financial trouble. They set out to develop a website that would attract tourists from all over Europe. The website needed to look professional, be easy to maintain, and run in five languages. The challenge was to build such a site on a small budget and use volunteers for much of the work. Did the Mirtoseans succeed?
Jurrie Eilers, a web developer, accepted the challenge of building Mirtos’ website. Since 2006, Jurrie has been working exclusively with WordPress. Hence, WordPress was the obvious choice for this project. Next, Jurrie had to come up with a design and figure out how to make the site multilingual. Fortunately, Jurrie found that the Divi theme and WPML work smoothly together. This made Jurrie’s life easier because of the flexibility that Divi offers and the complete translation workflow in WPML.
The combination of WordPress, Divi, and WPML gave Jurrie and the people of Mirtos everything they needed, and on a small budget. Designing the site took little effort: the people themselves could manage the content and handle all translation work. By using local translators from Mirtos, the site enjoys accurate multilingual content, which reads naturally and is appealing to the tourists.
Smooth Integration Between WordPress, the Theme, and WPML Reduces Costs
Remember the tight budget that Mirtos village had for this project? Imagine burning the entire budget on troubleshooting and bug fixes. Surely, this wouldn’t be good for the project. To avoid getting into trouble, Jurrie picked a theme that was already compatible with WPML, while fulfilling his design and maintenance objectives. This way, Jurrie could spend his time on designing and building the site and not on troubleshooting problems.
“I used the Divi theme from Elegant Themes. It has got a great Page Builder, is highly customizable, and has a Module Library. This is very useful for multilingual sites and saves a lot of time. In particular, the Global Module function comes in handy: changing one element will synchronize the change in all five languages.”
Starting the project on the right path is the most important thing we can do to get us to our destination.
WPML’s Translation Management Enables Community Translation
Content is king, and that is certainly true for the translated content. The people of Mirtos understood that irrespective of the tools you use, if you use low-quality content, the results will be poor.
WPML’s Translation Management module makes it easy for content managers and translators to work together. The site’s admin sets up “translator” users having very specific capabilities to translate. Translators do not need to worry about the site’s structure, links, or other HTML issues. The content manager chooses what content to translate and into which language. Translators receive notification emails, and they work using WPML’s dedicated Translation Editor. When translations are complete, WPML puts back everything together and adjusts the links and menus.
“All of the content was translated by real people, who are well educated in at least two of the languages. My own native language is Dutch, but I wrote the website first in English, and had it corrected by an English professor, Christine Anderson. I did the Dutch translation, and then the German translation was done by my wife, who is from Austria and speaks German, Greek, Dutch, and English very well.”
This way, teams of non-technical people can maintain high quality translation in WordPress.
Caching Drastically Improves Page-Load Performance
Mirtoscrete.gr uses advanced tools that can potentially cause slow loading of front-end content. Jurrie’s decision of using an advanced theme with a page builder makes editing and maintaining content very convenient. Instead of paying for this convenience with performance, mirtoscrete.gr uses advanced caching. 99% of the traffic to the site is by “visitors” (not logged-in users). This means that page caching handles the majority of the loading and makes pages load quickly.
The site uses two plug-ins for the job. WP Rocket caches pages and skips the entire PHP processing for visitors. WP-Optimize keeps the database clean and lean, and avoids bloat from building up.
Mini-Sites Give Business their Own Space
The “Cafes and Restaurants” pages use a blank template, which has no menu or footer. This allows authors to turn simple pages into their own mini-sites. By removing the standard page elements, authors of these pages can brand their pages as they wish, and make them look like individual mini-sites.
This is another idea to reduce costs and simplify the workflow. Instead of creating completely separate WordPress sites, Jurrie created a site that business users can use as their own. These mini-sites can also be multilingual because WPML is already running.
Content and Room for Improvement
Mirtoscrete.gr acts as a portal, connecting visitors to all of the site’s content. Jurrie dedicated himself to visiting all of the accommodations and restaurants personally. This effort paid off. The site’s content is written in a personal voice and shows great care.
All of the content in the site was created using simple WordPress pages with the Divi builder. Jurrie says that this works but is not ideal, as content maintenance can be difficult. Vast structural changes would require editing the entire site.
“It took way too long for the page to load, with every accommodation having its own custom background, a gallery, sometimes with dozens of pictures, and some of them including a Facebook feed or a YouTube embed. I therefore, decided to split it into three pages containing eight accommodations each, which I already regret. I should have given each item its own page.”
Mirtos’ website shows that it is possible to create a great-looking multilingual site even without a big budget. Good planning and selection of the correct tools enabled this to happen.. Choosing WordPress, a good theme, WPML, and good caching made it all possible. Jurrie and the translation team could focus their entire time on creating the site, writing content, and translating. They avoided expensive custom development and troubleshooting and saved themselves a great deal of trouble and cost.
Most importantly, the site fulfills its purpose. Mirtoscrete.gr attracts visitors from different countries and helps local businesses to evolve.