WPML or Google Translate – Pro and Cons
Website owners in countries where English is the predominant language, such as United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand enjoy the savings brought about by only having to manage their website in one language.
In places such as Europe however, there might be a need for website owners to have their site in their native language and possibly in English.
In our case, at JUCRA Digital, many of our clients are European based, English speaking businesses and their clients may be mainly English speaking or they may target other locales, such as Spanish, German, French etc.
What are the options for website translations?
Our preferred website platform is WordPress and whilst there are an array of translation plugins, for clients with the proper budget, we focus on the premium plugin called: WPML (WordPress Multi-Lingual) to offer our clients sites in other languages.
There a few free, non-google alternatives but the best known and most reliable one is Google Translate and along with that comes a free plugin called: GTranslate, which allows the insertion of a plugin into WordPress and offer a seamless transition experience between the user and Google Translate.
Before we continue with the rest of the article, the bottom line here is, WPML is the heavy-duty professional solution, GTranslate is the lighter free model.
Some GTranslate Examples
Below are some screenshots of websites where we have installed the GTranslate plugin using flags option and a shortcode to insert the flag into the required position in the web site and as you can see it looks fine and Google Translate is invisible to the end-user.
So if you need a quick, easy and free option for languages on your site you cannot do any better than GTranslate.
Comparing WPML and Google Translate
Here we will compare some of the features side by side but first lets clarify:
a. WPML is a heavy-duty solution.
b. Google Translate is a lite solution.
Which is Best for You?
WPML offers a high level of accuracy as its manually inputted and translated either by the site owner or a professional translator. The google translate plugin is free and convenient if language accuracy is not a high priority, you merely need to show your site in different languages.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of WPML and Google Translate.
- A small annual license for plugin use.
- High level of accuracy in translations.
- You can hire professional translators or do it yourself.
- Ticket support for WPML issues.
- Allows full deep level translating of everything (email templates for example)
- Setting up WPML can be complicated.
- Rolling out languages can take time (weeks, months).
- Cost of translation can soar very quickly.
- Adds additional “code bloat” to your WordPress site.
- Support desk for WPML can be slow at times.
- 100% Free.
- Easy setup and installation and configuration.
- You can have your website in 50+ languages within minutes.
- Nice layouts with flags on the front end.
- Machine translations can lose context at times.
- Will only translate public texts, not email templates or sections where Google translate cannot access.
If you need accurate contextually translated text, WPML would be the winner, albeit you need to budget for it, but if you merely need to offer your site in other languages purely as an “offering” to accommodate the occasional foreign language, then Google, being free would be the best for your site.