I’ve been building and hosting websites on and off for the last fifteen years, but, despite speaking French and German to degree level, it’s only recently that I’ve had to think about how to cater for non-English speakers.
As is the fashion for engaged couples, I built a wedding website with my fiancé. A lot of our guests were coming from overseas and so we decided that we wanted our guests to RSVP online and be able to access a lot more information than we could fit on the invite. Weddings are stressful, travel is stressful and we wanted to do as much as we could to make life easy for our guests. That and we didn’t fancy collating emails, written RSVPs or managing a spreadsheet.
There is an excellent RSVP plugin for WordPress, which allows you to require guests to enter a code to identify them before they RSVP. We used a spreadsheet to generate random four letter codes and then wrote the code onto the RSVP slip which we sent with the invite.
I should say that my fiancé is Spanish. This meant we had guests who spoke only Spanish. We could have duplicated every page and simply had a complicated menu, but that seemed inelegant, would provide a fairly poor user experience and didn’t offer guests a means of RSVPing entirely in Spanish.
To solve this issue we used Takayuki Miyoshi’s Bogo plugin. Bogo builds on the built-in localisation functionality in WordPress’s core. Every post we created was assigned a language (either English or Spanish) and then Bogo handled displaying the correct version to the visitor, based on their language preference. When plugins are called, Bogo uses the GNU Gettext translation files included with the plugins to display the correct language. We found that editing these (with POEdit) allowed us to customise the messaging in the RSVP flow – some of the standard wording was a bit informal. For menus, there is no need to create two menus, you simply add all the pages to one menu, in the order you want them to be seen and Bogo filters the menu at runtime to only display relevant content to the visitor. The plugin even includes a handy language switcher, which enabled visitors whose language was incorrectly sniffed (I wrote a function based on the advice in the Automatically switch WordPress language based on User’s Browser Language support forum thread) to find content in their language.
All in all, we were very pleased with how straightforward it was to use Bogo and WordPress to create a multilingual site. Where we ran into problems, there is a lot of help content on the Bogo support forum.
For others considering building a wedding website using WordPress, multilingual or otherwise, we would recommend the Quick and Easy FAQs plugin, which, because every question is stored as a separate article, allowed us to provide translations using Bogo. The plugin also offers a variety of ways to display the FAQs, which allowed us to get creative.
Now it’s time to get back to our wedding planning Kanban board.