Website translation

How to Easily Build a Multilingual Drupal Site

How to Easily Build a Multilingual Drupal Site
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Written by
Elizabeth Pokorny
Elizabeth Pokorny
Reviewed by
Updated on
July 2, 2024

Drupal powers an impressive 6.5% of the top 10,000 websites globally, which is a testament to its qualities as a Content Management System (CMS).

Its reputation for building high-performance, feature-rich websites has made it a go-to choice for global businesses and those looking to expand overseas. One of Drupal’s most important features is its built-in multilingual support, which sets the platform apart from the likes of WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace.

Drupal’s multilingual capabilities offer support for over 100 languages. Key features include language detection and options to translate content, as well as your site’s interface and configurations. The platform offers numerous benefits for ambitious site owners, but its translation qualities are limited and its manual methods time-consuming. While Drupal’s multilingual features are good, especially compared to other CMSs, users can still end up frustrated by the lack of automation.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up a multilingual Drupal website and also feature the best solution available to address the platform’s shortcomings in translation.

How Do I Add Multiple Languages to a Drupal Site?

Drupal’s multilingual feature set is built right into its core, making it an ideal choice for creating websites for a global audience. The primary source of translations in Drupal comes from its community of volunteers and contributors. These work to translate Drupal core, modules, themes, and distributions into a wide range of languages. Completed translations are then available for download from Drupal's localization server.

You can add multiple languages to a Drupal site by following the simple steps below.

Step 1: Install and Enable Required Modules

Drupal’s multilingual modules

First up, you’ll need to enable the necessary modules. Log in to your Drupal admin panel and navigate to the Extend page. Look for the following core modules under Multilingual and check the boxes next to them:

  • Configuration Translation: Allows translation of configuration items such as site name, menus, and more.
  • Content Translation: This enables translation of content types like articles and pages.
  • Interface Translation: Provides translation capabilities for the Drupal interface.
  • Language: This is essential for adding and managing languages on your Drupal site.

After selecting these modules, click the Install button at the bottom of the page to enable them.

Step 2: Add New Languages

  1. Once the required modules are enabled, navigate to Configuration > Regional and Language > Languages in your Drupal admin panel. Here, you can add new languages to your site.
  2. Click on the Add Language button and select your desired language from the list.
  3. Click Add Language again to confirm your choice – Drupal will download and install the language pack if it’s available.
  4. You can repeat this process for every additional language you want to feature on your website.
Drupal Add Language feature

Step 3: Add Language Switcher Block

To allow users to easily switch between languages, you can add a language switcher block to your site.

  1. Log in to your Drupal admin panel and navigate to Structure > Block layout.
  2. Find the region where you want to place the language switcher – the header section is often used – and click Place block next to it.
  3. Search for the Language switcher block and click Place block again to add it to the selected region.
Adding language switcher block to Drupal site

Step 4: Configure Language Detection and Selection

Go to Configuration > Regional and Language > Languages and click on the Detection and Selection tab. Here you can enable and configure various methods for language detection and selection across your Drupal interface and content:

  • URL: Adds language codes to URLs, allowing users to access language-specific pages.
  • Session: Uses session information to remember the user’s language choice.
  • User: Allows users to set their preferred language in their account settings.
  • Browser: Detects the user’s browser language settings and displays the site accordingly.

Choose the methods that best suit your website’s needs and configure them as required.

Detecting language settings on Drupal

Step 5: Translate the Interface

As we’ve seen, Drupal relies on community-contributed translations for its interface. To translate the interface, navigate to Configuration > Regional and Language > User Interface Translation. You can download translation files manually or use the interface to import them automatically. This will translate the Drupal core and module interfaces into the languages you have chosen.

Drupal user interface translation

Step 6: Enable Content Translation

  1. To make your content translatable, go to Structure > Content types and edit the content type you want to translate, such as a landing page or blog post.
  2. Under the Language settings section, check the box for Enable translation.
  3. Save the content type and repeat this process for all content types you wish to make translatable.

Step 7: Translate Content

  1. When creating or editing content, you will now see a Translate content type tab on the content editing page.
  2. Select this tab and then click Add for the desired language.
  3. Enter the translated content and save. Note that any content you add to the website must be manually translated and inputted.
  4. Repeat this process for all pieces of content and languages you want to translate.
Drupal’s Translate content type feature

Step 8: Translate Configuration Items

Some configuration items, such as the site name and menus, can also be translated.

  1. Navigate to Configuration > Regional and language > Configuration translation.
  2. Select the configuration items you wish to translate and provide the translations for each language as needed.
Drupal’s Configuration translation feature

Step 9: Test Your Multilingual Site

Finally, thoroughly test your multilingual Drupal site to ensure everything works as expected. Switch between languages using the language selector and verify that all content, interface elements, and configuration items appear correctly in each language.

The Problem With Drupal’s Manual Content Translation

While Drupal’s multilingual capabilities are impressive, the manual translation process can become overwhelming. This is especially true for larger websites with frequently updated content. Translating each piece of content, interface element, and configuration item individually is a complex, time-consuming, and error-prone task that can lead to inconsistencies across a site.

Due to the complexity of Drupal’s native solution, many organizations rely on third-party translation management systems to ease the process. Additionally, optimizing for multilingual organic search becomes a challenge when translations are performed manually, as it requires careful attention to language-specific keywords, meta tags, and URL structures.

In these situations, the limitations of Drupal’s default translation tools become apparent, prompting many site owners to seek a more efficient and user-friendly solution.

The Advantages of Automating the Drupal Translation Process with Weglot

We all want to make our lives easier, right? Automating the Drupal translation process with Weglot simplifies the entire process, and gives you the tools to ensure a better end result. Here’s how it works:

Ease of Integration and Setup

Weglot is a solution for simplifying the translation process for Drupal websites, making it easy to create a multilingual site. With no coding required, Weglot integrates with Drupal (as well as being compatible with all CMSs), allowing you to run your website translation project without the help of an IT team.

Weglot-Drupal integration

Setting up Weglot on your Drupal site is a quick and straightforward process. Simply add Weglot, configure your settings, and your site’s content is automatically detected and is translated.

Automated Translation and Updates

One of the key advantages of using Weglot for your Drupal translation is its instant automated translation process. Weglot provides a first layer of machine translation from leading providers like Microsoft, DeepL, and Google Translate, saving translators a lot of time and effort.

Any new content is immediately detected and translated, ensuring that your multilingual pages are always up-to-date. This feature considerably reduces the workload for website admins and helps to maintain a consistent user experience across all languages.

Manual Translation Options

While Weglot provides high-quality automatic translations in a single click, it also offers manual translation options for language refinement. Through the Weglot Dashboard, you can easily adjust translations to capture cultural nuances, local trends, and specific terminologies.

Weglot’s translation glossary

Additionally, Weglot allows you to order professional translation services directly through our platform, ensuring access to high-quality translations when needed. These options give you complete control over the quality of your content, and make the whole process more efficient.

Ease of Management

Managing translations is simplified through Weglot's user-friendly dashboard. A centralized interface makes it easy for admins to oversee translations, make edits, and ensure quality across multiple languages.

Weglot’s dashboard

Language Switching

Weglot can also improve the user experience on multilingual Drupal sites through its language-switching feature. Upon installation and configuration of the Weglot plugin, a language switcher is automatically added to the site, appearing in the footer by default. As with Drupal’s built-in switcher, this ensures that visitors can easily navigate between different language versions of the site.

However, Weglot’s language switcher is far more dynamic in nature. Any changes made to the site’s language settings, such as adding or removing languages, are immediately reflected in the switcher. These automatic updates provide a consistent and user-friendly experience for international visitors. Plus, you can change its appearance and position using the switcher editor, which allows you to edit the switcher visually.  

SEO Optimization

Weglot supports multilingual Search Engine Optimization (SEO), ensuring that your translated content is easily discoverable by search engines. When you use Weglot to translate your Drupal site, it automatically creates dedicated language subdomains or subdirectories for each translated version. This helps search engines understand the structure of your multilingual site and index the translated content appropriately.

Example of hreflang tag for Adidas

Additionally, Weglot automatically implements hreflang tags on your translated pages. These tags ensure that users receive the language version of your site that’s relevant to their location.  

Why Choose Weglot?

While there are several translation plugins available for Drupal, including TMGMT and GTranslate, Weglot stands out for its simplicity and comprehensive features.

In contrast, TMGMT requires a manual setup and management of translation projects that can be complex for users without advanced technical skills. Weglot’s user-friendly interface is designed for ease of use, allowing you to focus on your business without getting bogged down in the technical aspects of website translation.

Compared to GTranslate – which relies on Google Translate for automatic translations – Weglot's combined machine/manual translation approach offers a unique combination and full editing control. AI is able to complete the bulk of the work in a single click, reducing timescales. Expert translators are then able to focus on bringing your content in line with local nuances, ensuring everything is contextually relevant.  

Furthermore, our Visual Editor feature enables translators and developers to work on the front-end of a site, amending phrases directly on-page. This makes it easy to make sure that translated words fit existing design spaces, and provide a good user experience.

Weglot’s Visual Editor

Weglot’s comprehensive features, ease of use, and commitment to translation quality make it the ideal choice for Drupal website owners looking to expand their global reach.

SCS Global Services: A Case Study in Success

SCS Global Services’ homepage

SCS Global Services, a third-party certification body in the sustainability industry, faced the challenge of making its website accessible to a global audience. Its site needed an efficient translation solution to engage visitors from different regions and linguistic backgrounds.

Weglot emerged as the ideal solution for SCS Global Services. By integrating Weglot with its Drupal website, SCS was able to automatically detect and translate content into multiple languages. Our combination of machine translation and editing control allowed the brand to quickly translate its site while manually refining translations for accuracy and consistency. SCS was also delighted with the boost to its international SEO, thanks to our plugin implementing aspects like hreflang tags and metadata.

With Weglot, SCS Global Services successfully expanded its reach, making certification services and expertise accessible to a wider international audience. Our user-friendly interface and integration with Drupal made Weglot an ideal choice, providing SCS with the solution it needed to connect with clients worldwide.

Start Your Multilingual Journey With Weglot Today

We've seen a big benefit with using Weglot."

SCS Global Services

Weglot delivers an all-in-one solution for creating a multilingual Drupal site, making it the perfect option for businesses looking for international growth. With its ease of use, time-saving features, and SEO optimization, Weglot simplifies the process of translating your website and keeping it updated.

By automating translations, Weglot reduces the need for large-scale manual work across multiple languages. With the plugin onboard, anyone can set up a user-friendly, multilingual site without the hassle of complex configurations or coding.

Take the first step towards expanding your global presence and start your 10-day free trial of Weglot!

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