Translating your content management system (CMS) from one language into another can understandably seem daunting. Most teams don’t have translators in-house nor do they have any experience with translating content or managing translations and/or translators.
To help you translate your CMS, we look at two of the more popular methods available.
Using CMS translation software. There are several different types of CMS translation software, but we’re going to look at our tool, Weglot. Weglot works with any CMS platform and uses a two-tiered system to translate your site.
For the first layer of translations, Weglot uses neural machine translation to translate the entire front-end of your CMS within minutes. This gives you a fully multi-lingual site. Weglot has over 100 languages it can translate into, including more difficult right-to-left languages like Arabic and Hebrew.
For the second layer, you have the option of editing your translations (either on your own or with translators you can find via Weglot). With Weglot, you have complete control over your translations. So you can easily access your translations from your Weglot dashboard. There you can make edits to the translations or order manual translation services through Weglot.
Note that most of our customers find the first level of machine translation accurate enough that they don’t need to make significant edits or any edits at all.
Plus, you don’t need any developers to set Weglot up—no matter where your CMS is hosted. Your translated sites are automatically set up as subdomains of your existing site, so you don’t need to worry about setting up new URLs or hosting plans.
Using a translation agency. Unlike translation software, translation agencies use human translators to translate your content. These translators will get assigned translation tasks by the agency and then the translator will use a computer-assisted tool (CAT tool) to translate your content. This might be the option for you if you’re translating something that software may not work with, like a mobile app, files that aren’t hosted on-site, or even the back end of your CMS.
But generally speaking, using an agency isn’t the most practical option for translating your CMS. Since agencies don’t always start with that first layer of machine translation, they’re more expensive and more time-consuming than software.
Still, there are times when you may need an agency; below, we cover things to keep in mind as you shop for one.
Let’s look into these two options in more detail, so you can figure out which option is best for you.
Option 1: CMS Translation Software
There are several types of translation software, from WordPress plugins like WPML to tools like Lokalise which can be helpful if you’re developing a brand new design for your app or translated site.
But in this post, we’ll focus on Weglot. Weglot works with every type of CMS, including WordPress, Webflow, Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, etc.
To translate your CMS with Weglot, you just need to follow a couple of simple steps. Here’s a quick video that shows you how it’s done:
Here are specific tutorials for setting up Weglot in specific CMS platforms:
Weglot Uses Machine Translation for Speed, Accuracy, and Affordability
Weglot is always going to be faster than using a translation agency—this is because Weglot uses advanced neural machine translation as the first layer of translation for your CMS.
Not only is this method quick, it’s incredibly accurate. Weglot uses leaders in machine translation, including tools like DeepL, Google Translate, and Microsoft Translate.
You get full editing control and can make edits where needed. In fact, ⅔ of our customers never make any edits to their translated content—and the ones that do are often making minor edits.
Translating Your CMS Efficiently with Weglot
When you start using Weglot, you can translate your entire site or choose to select pages/URLs/sections you don’t want translated.
You can create a list of any words that you don’t want translated through your own glossary. For example, you probably won’t want to translate brand names, like Apple, Microsoft, or Slack.
Once you have set your parameters, Weglot will do the rest. Once this first layer of machine translation is done, you can now decide if there are any key areas where you want to bring in a manual translator to review the translation.
That’s what The Bradery did. They first let machine translation tool do its job and ended up with a fully translated multilingual website within minutes. They then took advantage of the Weglot Dashboard and its post-editing features to make changes where needed.
They were able to use their team of translators to easily approve, edit and publish translations. This made the entire process of translating the website much quicker and cost-efficient as their translators didn’t have to start from scratch.
How to Edit Your Translations in Weglot
You can easily access all of your translations—whether they’re machine powered translations or translations from human translators—from your Weglot Dashboard.
You can choose a specific translation by:
Selecting a URL.
Searching for a phrase you want to find.
Navigating through a live preview of your site with our visual editor.
You can click the translation you want to edit, make the changes, and then save them. All changes are updated automatically on your CMS.
You can also find a professional translator through Weglot. Simply pick which content you want to be translated by a professional, then the job is automatically sent to a qualified translator.
Once the translator is done with their work, it will be automatically updated and live on your site.
FYI: Anytime new content is added to your CMS, it’s automatically detected and translated. This is really useful if you’re regularly adding content to your site, for example, a real estate site or an eCommerce store with hundreds of listings (products or properties) being added each week. This type of volume can quickly become impossible to manage, but with Weglot, you’ll never need to worry about any untranslated content appearing on your site.
A Weglot Bonus: Optimize Your CMS for SEO
When Weglot translates your CMS, it also helps with your new site’s multilingual SEO. This helps your site rank for the right audience.
Weglot helps with SEO by:
Automatically translating all of your on-page SEO elements, such as your alt tags and metadata.
Adding code to your translated site that tells Google you have a translated site available.
Creating a unique subdomain/subdirectory for each translated site. For example, our main site is weglot.com and is in English. But our Japanese site is under the subdomain https://weglot.com/ja/, where “ja” denotes Japanese.
Option #2: Using a Translation Agency
If software isn’t the right solution for you, then you’re probably going to want to use a translation agency to translate your CMS.
When you hire a translation agency, you’re hiring a team of translators who will take the content on your CMS and translate it for you into your target language.
Agencies offer hands-on human translation—though their translators will use CAT (a computer-assisted translation tool)—to get the job done. The idea behind an agency is that with professional translators, you’ll get more accurate translations.
There are some times when an agency might be right for your project, such as:
You have a really small website that’s not updated regularly. In the case of a simple one-off website project—perhaps a static marketing site with 4-5 pages—an agency (or even an individual freelancer) might be sufficient. But still, your costs will almost certainly be higher than using translation software—at least at the outset.
You have an incredibly technical and complex site that demands specialist expertise. For example, your site features brain surgery advice or aircraft engine maintenance guides. In this case, you’ll want to have subject matter experts translating the content and making sure everything is 100% accurate. (Alternatively, you could do initial translations using software and have an expert review after the fact.)
You can’t find software that translates into your language. This is increasingly rare (for example, Weglot can translate into over 100 languages). But depending on your project, you might not be able to find software that translates into your target language. In this case, you can work with a digital translation agency that finds translators for you who work in that language.
Overall, it’s not that translation agencies are bad or offer worse quality than CMS translation software—but, depending on the scope of the project, they can often be unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming.
If you have a translation project that requires an agency, here are some tips to help you find the right one:
Be clear about your timeline and budget. Translation agencies are expensive and time-consuming. The exact price will depend on several factors, but it’s undeniably time-consuming to use an agency because you’re waiting on translators to go through every line of content on your site.
Plus, some agencies require that you extract the content you want to be translated and send it to them as a file, which can add even more time on your end.
Understand how pricing works. Once your translated content is delivered back to you, your service agreement is complete. But what happens when you add new content to your site? You need to enter another contract with the agency to get that content translated.
Understand the scope of work. Make sure that every part of your CMS that you need translated is part of the agreement. This may mean your FAQ page, reviews page, navigational headers, external links, on-page SEO, etc.
See if the SOW has any clauses about edits or revisions. Let’s say you run an English eCommerce site and hire an agency to translate your site into German. You get your translated content back from the agency, and upload it to your new translated site, but then notice a section on your English site describing a product feature inaccurately. You can edit your English site on your own, but you need help with your translated site. You can’t easily make an edit to that, instead, you need to reach out to the agency and hire their services again. (Which means sending them the copy, getting it translated, getting the copy back, and updating your translated site.)
And, don’t forget, you’ll need to work out how you’ll actually display these translations. A translation software automatically handles this part for you, whereas relying on a translation agency will mean you’ll need your development team to upload the translations and decide on a URL structure.
How to Start Translating Your CMS (a Quick Recap)
When it comes to website translation, there are two main methods:
When you’re using an agency, you’re paying for a team of translators to go through and translate your content. The idea is that this is the most accurate method—but that isn’t always true. There are levels of translation quality at each agency. And as we covered above, it’s faster to translate your CMS using a mix of manual and machine translation.
When you use Weglot, you can translate your entire site with machine translation, or just specific pages.Plus, you have complete control of your translations. You can either leave your translations as they are (which ⅔ of our customers do) or you can make edits to your content.
In the end, the major difference between using software or using an agency is the amount of control you have over your project. With software, you get a fully multilingual website sooner rather than later, and you also have more control over your translations.