For this bilingual website, I needed a translation plugin. I wanted a plugin that allowed comprehensive manual translation and I eventually narrowed the field to Translatepress and WPML. This review and comparison is based on my experience with the paid versions of both plugins:
- Translatepress: Personal level (€79 / year; limited to 1 site)
- WPML: Multilingual CMS level ($79, renewing at $59 / year; limited to 3 sites)
Both plugins have strong advantages and both have refund policies. I eventually chose WPML and requested a refund from Translatepress, which they were glad to process after a short explanation.
Translatepress: Quick Overview
The great thing about Translatepress is that they have a highly functional free version that you can try out before buying. The free version allows one additional language, can add language switchers, and allows you to translate page text using a convenient interface. The one thing I needed the paid version for was to be able to translate the URL slugs for posts and pages. Upgrading also allows you to translate unlimited languages, along with some other features. These additional features are available via addon plugins.
- Language switcher that can go at the top or bottom of the page
- You can set the languages to show up in a short version in the switcher (e.g. EN for English).
- Recognizes Canadian English and French dialects.
- Does not duplicate posts and pages.
- Can translate text in forms and 3rd party widgets easily.
- Good documentation
- Translation is done unit by unit according to underlying HTML, meaning that you may be limited in wording when translating if there is a bold text or link. What I mean is that for the following text “For more information you can check out my profile online,” you would have to translate the sentence in three discrete blocks (i.e. before the link, the link itself, and after the link).
- Requires you to translate the page name that gets printed in the tab yourself, which seems like an unnecessary duplication of work.
- Requires you to translate text generated by WordPress yourself (e.g. the ‘Posted in’ and ‘Tagged’ notes).
- It is clumsy to translate content that is scheduled to be published in the future.
I like many things about the Translatepress plugin. For one thing, it is simpler to use and understand than the WPML plugin. Ultimately, however, I found it to be less powerful. To accomplish everything that I wanted (though with some compromises), I went with WPML.
WPML: Quick Overview
Unfortunately WPML does not have a free version. For this reason I was reluctant to give it a try, but eventually did because of a couple issues I had with Translatepress. At first I tried the cheaper Multilingual Blog level, but I had to upgrade in order to translate widgets and some other site content. Upgrading was easy, as I only had to pay the difference in cost between the two levels. Another advantage of the CMS level is that you can use the WPML plugin on up to 3 websites.
- Can put a language switcher in the footer.
- Handles the categories and tags no problem.
- The advanced translation editor is powerful and easy to use. It allows one to translate each sentence and title one at a time, side by side with the original, and without missing any text. There is even built in spellcheck.
- Automatically translates some of the text generated by WordPress (e.g. the ‘Posted in’ and ‘Tagged’ notes).
- Can translate scheduled posts no problem.
- Automatically handles the page name that shows up in your browser tab based on your title translation.
- Superior documentation
- Inferior language switcher options overall (effectively requiring a second menu in my case)
- Duplicates posts and pages (so that you have a copy in each language). This is a big con in my view.
- Complicated system involving a large number of addons.
WPML is a powerful plugin, but not as user friendly as Translatepress. It can do everything I need and more. In some cases the implementation is awkward. Ultimately, its superior functionality and lower cost tipped the balance.
I found myself wishing that Translatepress would work out for me. There were a few things, like the additional language switcher options, that I was sorry to give up. Nevertheless, I went with WPML because it handles everything I need, and at a better price (especially if you want to use it on two or three websites instead of just one).
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