A multilingual website may help people run their business more successfully and reach more customers from all over the world. To create a multilingual website and reach that target, the common choice is using a translation plugin to save time and effort. But there’re many plugins out there so choosing the suitable one seems to be not easy. Among them, the most popular choices are the freemium plugins: Polylang, TranslatePress, Weglot; and the premium one: WPML.

Each of them has its own features as well as pros and cons. Therefore, to help your choice easier, we made a comprehensive review of these four translation plugins follow these criteria:

  • Supported language
  • Translation methods: manual, automatic, or combined
  • Supported content
  • Translation interface

To get more details, let’s dive in!

Polylang

Polylang has 500.000+ active installations on wordpress.org. The free version of this plugin can translate 90+ languages (including RTL) and it also allows you to add custom languages easily.

Supported Content

Polylang can translate all basic content such as theme and plugin strings, posts, pages, media, taxonomies, …

However, strings translation is quite limited. To find and add strings, you have to use Polylang functions or install the Polylang Theme Strings plugin.

Polylang's strings translation is quite limited.
Theme strings’ submission is quite limited

Menu translation is a highlight feature of Polylang compared to other translation plugins. It allows users to create a separate menu for each language version.

Polylang allows users to create a separate menu for each language version.
Translate menu by creating a separate one for each language version

However, web-owners must buy Polylang for WooCommerce premium extension to translate eCommerce pages.

Plugin Setup

You can install and configure Polylang very quickly. But in my opinion, it’s a bit inconvenient because there’s no language searching bar.

There’s no language searching bar in Polylang plugin's setup.
Polylang supports the setup wizard

Using Polylang, web-owners only have one option to display the language transition button. This button is a widget that can be placed in a menu, footer, sidebar, or any other widget area.

Translation Methods

The free version of Polylang just supports manual translation. To translate your website automatically, you have to install a third-party plugin like Lingotek Translation (free).

Translation Interface

To translate pages / posts, web-owners need to create a translation by WordPress editor and then link it to the original version.

Create a translation by WordPress editor then link it to the original version.
Pages / Posts content translating interface

This translation method is very interesting because web-owners can format the translation easily.

Besides, you can translate tags, categories right in the Category, Tag section of WordPress so it’s quite convenient.

Translate tags, categories right in the Category, Tag section of WordPress
Category translating interface

TranslatePress

This is also a plugin with a lot of active installations on wordpress.org. The free version of TranslatePress supports 120+ languages (including RTL). Additionally, you can create custom languages with code.

Supported Content

This free plugin can translate almost everything from the basic to the advanced (according to the information in TranslatePress homepage).

In my experience, TranslatePress supports theme strings translation better than Polylang. There’re more strings that are already found and displayed. Especially, when web-owners use the automatic translating feature, TranslatePress only deals with strings that aren’t translated manually yet. This is quite interesting and useful because it helps users avoid repetition.

TranslatePress supports theme strings translation better than Polylang.
Translate theme strings

Besides, category translation is quite easy.

TranslatePress category translation is quite easy.
Category translation interface

Plugin Setup

The settings interface of TranslatePress is very native. The settings page is organized into different detailed and clear tabs. Especially, when you set up languages, the TranslatePress search tool is more convenient than the Polylang search tool.

TranslatePress search tool is more convenient than the Polylang search tool.
TranslatePress can search languages faster

You can choose to display the language transition button with 3 options: shortcode, menu, and floating language (the number of options is the 2nd-highest in this article).

Translation Method

TranslatePress combined both manual and automatic translations. To auto-translate, just link to Google Translate by Google API key.

Link to Google Translate by Google API key to auto-translate content.
Link to Google Translate with Google API Key

Another advantage of TranslatePres is that web-owners can even change the content of automatic translations when they haven't been published yet (WPML and Polylang haven’t supported this feature).

Translation Interface

TranslatePress allows users to translate right on the front end. This outstanding feature is loved by many WordPress users.

TranslatePress allows users to translate right on the front end.
Translate right on the front end

Thanks to that, web-owners can manipulate, translate, and follow the content easily and quickly right on the website.

WPML

web-owners can manipulate, translate, and follow the content easily and quickly right on the website.

WPML only has paid versions. This premium plugin supports 60+ languages (including RTL) and allows you to add custom languages without code.

WPML plugin supports 60+ languages (including RTL).

Supported Content

Using WPML, you can translate widgets, taxonomies, custom fields, categories, menus, URLs, page builder content, … depending on your package. Notably, the Multilingual CMS package can translate all advanced features such as WooCommerce pages, page builder content, custom fields.

Here is the example of translating custom fields and page builders:

Translate custom fields and page builders

Plugin Setup

After you buy the WPML plugin, you’ll have an account on their homepage for downloading plugins.

Different packages will combine with different plugins for different features. For example, here are plugins for the Multilingual CMS package.

Different packages of WPML will combine with different advanced translation features

After activating all plugins in a package, you have to configure WPML as follows:

Configure the WPML translation plugin
Set up WPML plugin

After that, many options will show up in the plugin settings page as below:

many translation options will show up in the WPML settings page
Options in the WPML settings page

From my perspective, the WPML plugin setup isn’t simple because there’re so many options. Therefore, it’ll take you a lot of time to learn.

As for displaying the language transition button, you have up to 5 options (the highest number in this list).

Translation Method

In addition to automatic and manual translation, WPML allows users / third parties to translate and use professional translation services. As you can see, WPML supports the most translation methods.

Translation Interface

When translating pages / posts content, web-owners will see that WPML is quite similar to Polylang because they all work in WordPress Editor to create a new translation:

Work in WordPress Editor to create a new translation
Create a new translation in WPML

However, after creating a new translation, web-owners need to work on the backend with a native interface that is easy to compare two translations.

web-owners need to work on the backend with a native interface that is easy to compare two translations
Translate on the backend

Using WPML, you can translate taxonomies in the settings section, not in the taxonomy section of WordPress like in Polylang (as below).

translate taxonomies in the settings section with WPML
Translate taxonomies

Weglot

Weglot supports up to 100+ languages (including RTL). However, remember that you can translate a maximum of 2000 words per language with the free version. Besides, I also couldn’t find the custom language section both in the plugin’s Settings page and the documentation of Weglot.

Supported Content

Weglot will scan all texts on the frontend of your website to automatically translate, including articles/pages content, strings, page builder content, ... Therefore, you don’t need to worry about whether your plugins/themes are compatible with Weglot or not.

Posts content translation:

Translate post content in WordPress with Weglot plugin

Other content translation:

Translate other content in WordPress with Weglot plugin

Plugin Setup

First, you have to create an account on the Weglot homepage and get the API to connect to the plugin. After that, the settings options will be shown up as below with the advanced language searching section, which extremely optimizes the selection:

Weglot options in the advanced languege searching section.
Set up a section with the advanced language searching section.

However, options in the settings page are listed without being separated or sorted in different tabs and sections. Therefore, this list is quite long and may become a disadvantage.

Weglot options are listed without being separated or sorted
Options in the settings page

Translation Method

Weglot supports both manual and automatic translation. But not like other plugins, websites will be translated automatically right after the setup. If webmasters don’t like any translated content, they can edit it manually and easily.

Translation Interface

The manual translation is done right on the Weglot website. Thus, the users’ websites don’t need to load and store translated content in the database to make the data management easier. Besides, manual translation is quite easy and quick.

manual translation is quite easy and quick.
Translation interface

Summary

After analyzing these above plugins, we’ve summarized all their features in this comparison table. This may help you get a quick overview of them:

Criteria Polylang TranslatePress WPML Weglot
Manual Translation
Automatic Translation
Allow users / third parties to translate
Support RTL language
Supported content ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Languages 90+ 120+ 60+ 100+
Installation and setup ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Translation interface Back-end Front-end Back-end On the Weglot website

Last Words

Hopefully, this article will help you to build multilingual websites for your clients more easily and quickly. In addition to these above criteria, you should care about the website owner’s requirements and the website’s features and characteristics before choosing a translation plugin.

If you have any thoughts after reading this review, feel free to share with us in the comment section. Besides,  you can refer to this article to learn about other translation plugins. Finally, don’t forget to follow our upcoming articles!

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5 thoughts on “A Comprehensive Review of Top 4 Translation Plugins

  1. Nice Article.

    However its also desirable to see what happens to post content when you uninstall these plugins.

    I bet this one aspect can drastically change the rating you have given to these plugin 😉

    For starters, uninstall the polylang plugin after translating a dozen of posts and you shall see what happens to the post content.

  2. Thank you for your analysis of this plugins. I'm missing a segment for MultilingualPress, which has a different approach, using WordPress multi-site.

    Also, users should be aware about each plugin's added weight to their website.

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