When you decide to create a multilingual WordPress website, there are multiple factors you need to consider. The most important one is choosing the theme that is truly a multilingual WordPress theme.
In this guide, I will help you to choose a real multilingual WordPress theme for your website among free and premium themes from the market.
Our previous guide, How to create a Multilingual WordPress Theme can give you a general overview of the nature of the multilingual themes and also why the themes we are listing here are multilingual WordPress themes.
What does “Multilingual WordPress Theme” mean?
The WordPress theme that is called “Multilingual WordPress Theme” or “Multilingual ready theme” or “Translation ready theme” is the theme that is properly internationalized. Which means that theme strings (texts) are properly wrapped in gettext function that makes them easy to be extracted later in the localization process.
How does that “Multilingual WordPress Theme” look like?
When the theme developer claims that the theme is multilingual theme, you should expect one of the following:
- The theme comes with .pot file and no .po/.mo files.
- The theme comes with .po/.mo files for several languages and no .POT file.
- The theme comes with an integrated multilingual system.
Let’s explain in details every type of the above themes and how to deal with every type.
If you are asking about the meaning of .POT, .mo or .po, please check this post for more info. In short, those files are called the language files of the theme and usually they are located in /language/ or /lang/ folder in your theme directory.
1- The theme comes with .pot file and no .po/.mo files.
With this type of themes, you will find a .pot file in the language folder of your theme. This file contains all strings (texts/sentences) of your theme. In order to translate this theme, you will need to create .po and .mo files for the language you need using a software like POEdit . You can check this guide How to Translate WordPress Themes using POEdit for more info.
2- The theme comes with .po/.mo files for several languages and no .POT file.
In the language folder, you will find few .po and .mo files and no .pot file.
If it’s your lucky day, you will find the files for the language you need. But what if you want to translate to another language that is not included? You will need the following:
With those types of themes, you can translate them without the hassle of creating those language files by using a multilingual plugin. From a long experience, the best plugin that can do the job for you is WPML. The plugin has a standalone module that scans themes for strings and collects them in a nice user interface in order to make it easy for you to translate them.
3- The theme comes with an integrated multilingual system.
With this type of themes, you don’t need to create any language files or install any multilingual plugin. The theme comes with its built-in multilingual system.
Now let’s have a look at the WordPress market and how can we choose a multilingual WordPress theme.
A- Free multilingual themes
As usual, the first place you should look for a free theme is WordPress.org themes directory. Multilingual themes can be found here https://wordpress.org/themes/tags/translation-ready/
For example, when you download Zerif Lite theme, you will find it comes with these language files
B- Premium multilingual themes
We will divide this into 2 types:
- Premium themes with language files.
- Premium themes with a built-in multilingual system.
B.1 Premium themes with language files
Almost every premium theme comes with a .POT file to make you able to translate it into your preferred language. Some of them like Themify themes come only with the .POT file and you can translate it to any language.
On the other hand, there are premium themes come translated into multiple languages. Such as Divi theme which comes with 32 languages.
Where to get?
If you want to get a premium theme with multiple language files (or at least the language you need), here are few sources that will definitely help you:
Elegant themes, with over 125,000 happy customers and 87 themes in their library, they are one of the well-established commercial theme providers in the industry. All themes have been localized into multiple languages. Divi theme has 32 languages, their other themes are translated into German and Russian, however, they are still adding more languages to all of their themes.
When you go to this link on ThemeForest, it will get a list of all themes that compatible with WPML. Which means they are localized and translated into multiple languages. All of those themes comes with .POT file and few other languages files.
- Enfold Theme: Translated into 21 languages.
- Jobmonster Theme: Translated into 10 languages.
- Flatsome Theme: Translated into 6 languages.
B.2 Premium themes with a built-in multilingual system
Recently, AitThemes created multilingual ready themes with an integrated multilingual system and language translations. Their themes are translated into 26 languages and with the multilingual system, you can also create your multilingual website without any multilingual plugin or use the theme in the language you want. (Check out the languages)
With a single purchase, you will not have to buy any third party translation plugin. Check out their themes.
The multilingual WordPress theme is the cornerstone of your multilingual website. When you choose a theme that comes with .pot file and no .po/.mo files, you will spend extra time (or money) to translate this theme into your desired language. While when you choose a theme that already translated into multiple languages (especially the language you need), you will save your time and money.