While ago I had very interesting conversation with Joe Lobo from the WPML team. We had a short interview/conversation about creation of multilingual web sites in WordPress.
Lately I had a several different inquiries about multilingual web sites from several friends who are project managers or product owners. Therefore I have decided to share details of our conversation.
Hopefully, someone might find it useful.
Multilingual web sites with WordPress and WPML, interview
In your experience what features have been most beneficial for businesses which build a multilingual website?
Well, in my experience most of the businesses who needed a multilingual website were ones who had some online business (mostly eCommerce based).
Having that in mind, 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 website will end up with reduced performance (speed issues etc.), but the truth is on the halfway.
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, properly optimized a web site 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 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 coding can save you days of planning“... 🙂
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 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?
Optimize everything before introducing a multilingual website.
Find a good and reliable consultant to walk you through every step of the way.
Measure everything (speed, number of requests, SEO score)
Optimize everything after introducing a multilingual website.
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 $$$ invested in something which was not properly planned in a 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… 🙂
Other form long-term business relationships with your developers/consultants/teams.
Approach projects with a clear head, expect the 80% of initial idea realization (final 20% will always be very hard to achieve and very expensive).
Also, consult developers communities! 😀
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