The Chinese Information and Advice Centre, based in London, commissioned me to rebuild their website at ciac.co.uk using WordPress after the original Drupal site fell into disuse. There was one complication: pages needed to be translated into Chinese and English. Fortunately there are ways to enable translation and make a website multilingual.
Choosing a translation plugin
An easy method is to put a Google Translate button on the site, but then you’re reliant on Google’s own translation, which can be hit or miss. If your non-profit has no-one who can translate content, this might be a good-enough fallback, but only if accuracy is not your priority.
A better approach is to use a WordPress plugin. We chose the WPML (WordPress Multilingual) plugin. It’s well regarded by many WordPress developers because it’s easy to install and configure, and relatively simple for the client organisation to add translations. The WPML plugin isn’t free, but nether is it expensive. We paid for the cheapest version, which would enable us to translate posts, pages and menus but not widgets. Support lasts for one year after purchase.
We put the language switcher within the main menu, highlighting it in vivid red to match CIAC’s branding and make it eye catching.
The only difficulty we encountered was how to synchronise navigation menus in two languages. There was some head scratching to figure out why the menus didn’t match up, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved with a bit of trial and error.
The Organic Seed WordPress theme
We decided to use the Organic Seed WordPress theme, a popular choice for non-profits that don’t have the budget or time to commission a theme from scratch. It’s easy to customise, with simple options for building a home page that incorporates a slideshow, recent news and featured pages. It was compatible with the WPML plugin.