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3 steps to build a multilingual website without using plugin




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I noticed that many of you are interested in the issue of how to build a multilingual website without using multilingual plugins. In this article, Bii will guide you through a sequence of steps that will help you build a multilingual website by yourself without relying on any supporting plugins like Polylang, WPML, TranslatePress… Let’s take a look at a demo of the experience of a multilingual website without using plugins in the video below!.

Video introducing the multi-language feature without using plugins on the Biiviet.com website.

Introduction of a multilingual website without using plugins.

As we know, on the WordPress platform, there are many plugins that support creating multiple languages for posts. Some of the most notable plugins include Polylang and WPML. These are all plugins that WordPress users trust and use. However, using multilingual plugins can cause issues that affect the website, such as slowing down page loading speed and conflicting with other themes and plugins.

Building a website without using multilingual plugins will help you solve the issue of page loading speed and optimize the website structure as desired. Additionally, it will minimize conflicts with other plugins, making your website operate smoothly and effectively.

Let’s take a look at the criteria comparison table for you to consider whether or not to build a multilingual website without using plugins.

Comparison point

Use plugins (Polylang, WPML…)

Do not use plugins

Speed performance

Using plugins will significantly slow down your website, for example, WPML is a powerful multilingual plugin, but it’s also a reason that greatly reduces the page loading speed of your website.

 It does not affect the page loading speed, ensuring the best performance for your website. This is also the reason why Bii has used it instead of a multilingual support plugin

Easy to use and manage

Most multilingual plugins are relatively easy to configure. Your task is to copy the shortcode and paste it into the places where you want it to be displayed on your website.

In the plugin configuration, there are also default display settings for the language switch buttons. In general, using a multilingual plugin is quite simple, and almost anyone can set it up themselves.

It is more difficult to use, and you need to spend a lot of time designing, editing, and customizing the interface to achieve the desired effect. This requires you to have some knowledge of code and spend more time getting familiar with it.

More challenging to use, you will need to invest a considerable amount of time in designing, editing, and customizing the interface to achieve the desired results. This requires you to have a bit of coding knowledge and spend more time to become familiar with it.

The ability to customize and expand

Customization is limited. Most multilingual plugins have been configured according to certain standards provided by the manufacturer. It will be difficult to change icons, images, fonts, layouts, and display styles for the language switch button on the website.

Comprehensive and diverse customization, the ability to customize depends on your aesthetics. If you want your website to be different from most other websites using multilingual plugins, this is a perfect choice.

System conflict

It can easily cause conflicts with the theme and other plugins, damaging the website structure and affecting the actual page loading performance as well as reducing the user experience.

It does not break the website’s interface layout. Fully compatible with versions on computers, mobiles, and tablets. Does not affect the theme and plugins installed on the website.

Based on the comparison features above, you can see the benefits and limitations of building a multilingual WordPress website without using multilingual support plugins. Let’s learn about the operating principles and implementation methods of the steps below.

The page load score can be improved when not using multilingual website plugins

The page load score can be improved when not using multilingual plugins

The principle of operation of a multilingual website

To create a multilingual website without using support plugins, you need to spend more time and effort. The way a multilingual website works is as follows:

  1. The language switch button is essentially a dynamic link. These language switch buttons will be fixed in one position, usually on the header menu or at the bottom of the footer page, depending on the designer.
  2. At each post, for example, if post A is in Vietnamese, there will be a link field (created by ACF Pro or similar plugins such as Meta Box, Toolset…) to switch to the desired language such as English, or Spanish…). This will be explained and illustrated more clearly below this post.
  3. The number of posts depends on the number of languages on the website. If you make a 2-language website, you have to create 2 posts, one for language A and one for language B. Similarly, if you make a 3-language website, you also have to create 3 posts for 3 languages.
  4. Each post will be distinguished by a different URL (for example domain/vi/postA and domain/en/postB), so if you want to make a 3-language website in Vietnamese (Vi), English (En), French (Fr) you need to create 3 posts for 3 types of languages and then use the dynamic link field to link them together. The website that Biiviet.com you are currently viewing only has 2 languages: Vietnamese and English, so only 2 posts are needed.
  5. It is recommended to divide the languages into one category for easy management and help Google easily identify the site. As you can see on Bii’s website, the domain biiviet.com/en/ is marked as the English language. And the root domain biiviet.com is considered Vietnamese. You can customize this according to your preferences. For example, if you want to make a 3-language website in Vietnamese (vi) – domain.com/vi/, English (En) – domain.com/en/ and French (fr) – domain.com/fr/.

See more: On-page SEO optimization – a solid foundation for sustainable website growth.

The language switch button is a dynamic link that connects directly with ACF Pro

The language switch button is a dynamic link that connects directly with ACF Pro

The conditions required for theme and plugin

As Bii mentioned above, building a multilingual website manually has many clear benefits, including high speed performance and superior customization capabilities without damaging the layout or breaking the website structure. However, this method is more complex and difficult to implement than installing multilingual support plugins such as Polylang or WPML.

To build a multilingual website manually, you need to prepare the following requirements. This is also the way that Bii used to create the multilingual website biiviet.com that you are currently reading and experiencing.

  1. A theme that supports full-page editing (FSE) can help you customize your website to the best of your ability. For example, the Cwicly theme that Bii is currently using. In case you do not use an FSE-supported theme such as Flatsome, Kadence, Blocksy, etc., you can use additional page builder support such as Elementor or UX of Flatsome…
  2. You will also need a plugin that supports working with dynamic content, such as ACF Pro, Meta Box, Toolset, or Jetengine…

If you meet the above two conditions, you are qualified to build your own multilingual website in your own style. Let’s take a look at the journey of building a multilingual website that Bii has applied to the website system below.

Note: The simplest method to fulfill the aforementioned two conditions, as advocated by Bii, is to utilize the Cwicly Toolkit. This comprehensive toolkit consists of a theme and an integrated plugin that includes the ACF Pro, provided within the service package. This eliminates the necessity of installing and purchasing additional plugins such as ACF or Meta Box.

See more: Cwicly, a modern toolkit for building comprehensive WordPress websites.

3 manual steps to set up a multilingual website

To manually build a complete multi-language website, you need to follow these specific 3 steps:

Step 1 – Create a dynamic link field using ACF Pro

This is the step for setting up dynamic URLs for the language switch button on each post. This means you will create a link field for the posts that require additional language versions. This ACF Pro field is configured to be displayed in the post section of the website, similar to the illustration in step number 3.

Note: You can use any plugin that supports creating custom fields, such as Metabox, Jetengine, etc. In the demo, Bii uses ACF Pro because it’s seamlessly integrated for free into the Cwicly theme, which is something that Bii highly appreciates in this toolkit.

Step 1 - Create a dynamic link field using ACF Pro.

Step 2 – Design the language switch button

The first thing to do is to set up a language switch button. The language switch button can be designed and placed at the top of the website header, similar to the demo video of Bii.

You can also set up a language switch button for the website on the sidebar or at the bottom of the footer page. All of this depends on your ability to customize your design.

The design of the language switch button depends on personal preferences and requires a strong editing theme such as Flatsome or using a page builder such as Elementor, Oxy, Divi, or you can also use Cwicly like Bii to do this.

If you use a different theme that is not Cwicly, you can still design it like Bii. The mechanism of operation is similar.

Step 2 - Design the language switch button

Step 3 – Add language change URL to each post

This is the step to set up a dynamic URL for the language switch button on each post, meaning you will create a link field for posts that need to add more languages. This ACF Pro field is set to display in the post section on the website, similar to setting up the data field in Step 1.

In the image, you only see one language change link because Bii’s website only has two languages: Vietnamese and English. In case you want to set up a third language such as French (Fr), create an additional dynamic link in ACF Pro like in step 1.

Step 3 - Add language change URL to each post.

With the aforementioned 3 steps, Bii has successfully set up a multilingual website and created a demo video for you to observe, as shown above. This outlines the process of establishing a multilingual website without relying on plugins like Polylang or WPML, which Bii has implemented on the website. It is our hope that this article aids you in comprehending the operational mechanism and enables you to tailor it to your individual preferences.

See more: How did Bii build the website biiviet.com

Bii Nguyen

Hello everyone, I’m Bii Nguyen – the founder of this website. The website was created with the desire to spread useful knowledge to everyone.

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Cwicly Toolkit

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With over 7 years of experience in the field of Digital Marketing, Biiviet.com is a blog that shares knowledge on building a personal brand and making money through websites and social media. All the knowledge provided is free and based on real-life experiences.

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