Localizing WordPress – PART 1 – WordPress Multisite for Localization: Overview

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. In today’s post, we will give a general overview of WordPress Multisite and how it can help create a multilingual website experience for your visitors.

What is WordPress Multisite and what makes it different from a regular WordPress setup?

WordPress Multisite is a single installation of the WordPress software on one server which allows large and small organizations to run multiple websites with the benefit of optimized infrastructure and workflow.

A regular wordpress setup is a single installation with one website, one database, one theme, and multiple plugins. WordPress Multisite is also one installation with one database, but it allows you to have multiple WordPress sites setup on subdomains or separate folders—or if you’re really creative, you can even have different domains for each site, and with domain mapping plugins and tools you can even assign them to different IP addresses.

When you use WordPress Multisite (for example, a large corportion with multiple departments with blogs: an engineering department, a marketing department, an accounting department, and so on), instead of hiring multiple webmasters to handle the multiple installations, you can centralize everything under one roof.

Installation is a bit more cumbersome, but in the end you can have one installation and one web server, and give each of your users logins and passwords to maintain their own website. In order to run a WordPress Multisite, what you need is an optimized theme that allows multiple installations. You also have to have special network plugins, as not all plugins are compatible with WordPress Multisite.

Benefits of using WordPress Multisite

One of the biggest benefits of WordPress Multisite is that And you can save money on hosting: instead of buying multiple servers for multiple websites, you can rent a single VPS and setup one host and run multiple installations. Some people even get creative and make money on those features, reselling hosting to smaller companies for monthly revenue. It’s up to you to decide how to use it!

How WordPress Multisite can be used for translation

As linguists at Translation Cloud, we’re always thinking about technology, and recently the topic of how to use the WordPress Multisite feature for localization came up.

It turns out WordPress Multisite is good for localization.This multi-site functionality is essentially what we linguists demanded: if you have more than one language on your website (for example, English, French, and German), each of those languages can be loaded from a separate place. So technically, each language brings you another version of the website.

This allows us to maintain the original looks and feel of client sites, but gives us the flexibility to modify the strings and change the languages, images, and other content without reducing or sabotaging the quality of the overall website.

Pros and cons of WordPress Multisite

Pro: it uses a single database. If you have one database, it’s easy to manage, easy to do backups, and easy to do restorations.

Con: if something happens to your database, your entire network of websites will go down.

Pro: one server is much cheaper, requires less service, and allows you to run multiple sites from the same domain. Setup one domain, one web host, and one SSL certificate and you’re good to go.

Con: it’s harder to setup. If you are an average webmaster, or you’re not really sure how to tweak network themes and plugins, you might run into some trouble setting it up.

Another problem is, if you want different themes for each website, it’s more difficult as this is a centralized approach with one theme and one set of plugins per installation. As an admin, you have to be really choosy as to what plugins to download and install.

Final thoughts

Multisite is a great feature that WordPress introduced in version 4. If you’re planning to localize your website, it’s highly beneficial to look into this type of approach.

Be sure to come back on Monday to read Part 2: What is WordPress Multisite?

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