Web designer Emanuel Blagonić (Blagonic Brothers) was kind enough to share his experiences and views on WordPress web development and website localization solutions.
Would you please introduce yourself?
My name is Emanuel Blagonić. I like to say that I am, first and foremost, a father. I am a designer, I design user interfaces and work with small and big companies from Croatia and worldwide. I first encountered WordPress more than 12 years ago when the CMS was very different from what it is now. I have been introducing the benefits of WordPress to the people ever since, which has taken a form of active participation in the Croatian and global WordPress communities over the past few years.
What is the importance of localization in your opinion?
The story of WordPress is the story of localization. The first major success occurred in Japan which was home to the strongest localization community of the world in those days (15 years ago). Localization is the key to success if we want to make something more available to worldwide audiences. The WordPress mission is to democratise publishing, and to do that we need to make the software available to everyone – regardless of their proficiency in foreign languages – and this is where localization is coming to the fore.
What are your experiences with WordPress localization (challenges, solutions, etc.)?
There are two types of localization. One type includes WordPress software localization. WordPress relies on its – at times almost fanatical – worldwide community in that respect. WordPress is actively translated at home, at work, and at the events known as Contributor Days, where many people working in different teams meet to contribute to the WordPress project. More than 500 people attended the Contributor Day recently held in Belgrade as part of the WordCamp Europe conference (currently the largest WordPress conference in the world), who actively contributed to the community throughout the day. One type of contribution is the localization of main software, plugins, themes and more.
Content localization is the second part of the localization story. Content localization is important in terms of target audiences of a specific website. It is important to localize your website for your target audiences to make your content, message or your products and services available to as many people as possible.
What are your experiences with the localization on other CMS platforms?
I don’t really have experience with other CMS platforms so I can’t claim whether localization is implemented better or worse. The basic problem of WordPress – if that can be seen as a problem at all – is that, unlike some other CMS platforms, localization is not an integral part of its installation, but it needs to be “upgraded” through plugins (such as WPML). Although that’s not really an issue, I believe localization could be solved better under WordPress. However, the facts that 30 % of all the world’s websites are powered by WordPress (its share among the CMS platforms has long been larger than 50 %) and that it is the most popular CMS of them all makes the case for WordPress content localization being an important part of your online strategy.
Is localization process affected by website complexity?
It surely is. You can opt for different approaches to localization based on the website “size”, i.e. its complexity. The users most frequently choose WPML as the most professional WordPress localization plugin, and those who do not want to pay for it (WPML is a premium plugin) opt for other solutions.
As always, every solution has its pros and cons, and with very complex websites it is perhaps best to consider a customized solution with each language being a separate WordPress (multisite) installation where content connection will be solved with custom software code.
WPML is the genuine commercial solution that provides a wide range of possibilities to translation agencies who use specific tools, making the localization process faster and smoother.
Is localization something to be considered before or after the development?
Definitely before. Although it is possible to localize a website after it has been published, I believe that having an initial plan of what needs to be done today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow always pays off. If we have a vision for the next two or three years, in addition to being able to make an easier prediction on the type of content that we need, we will also have a better insight into the localization requirements. Based on that, you will be able to choose a better solution, of course, in collaboration with your web developers.
Why is it important to choose a professional LSP for website localization?
As always, having professional and reliable partners is important. Although we tend to believe that if we can understand and speak, say, English, we can also translate content, we should be aware that a self-service translation (mostly) does not meet the expectations of our audiences on the target markets. If you are targeting British, German, Italian, French, Russian or any other market for that matter, it is important to have a professional translation because your website in most cases serves as your reflection and the place of first contact with your potential clients. Of course, this is something that leaves an impression, so it is important to make the impression you want.