Our newsletter plugin is fully translated in nearly 20 languages thanks to the collaboration of over 50 volunteer translators.
Below is a piechart of our users’ language distribution:
The French tendency is due to our roots. Showing up at WordPress events in France has popularized us in the country.
Our sales’ pie chart per country shows a more internationalized picture:
This is quite a different picture of the distribution of the nearly 30 million WordPress websites (excludes wordpress.com) :
Why so many English sites? The rest of the world has to catch up with the historical adoption in the US. At least, that’s my guess.
I uploaded the data obtained from the WordPress.org in this sheet.
Our translation workflow
This is how we handle translators:
- Recruit translators in our documentation in exchange for a Premium license
- Get them to signup to our translation page on Transifex
- They translate or update their language
- Translators get an email notification when a new version is out
Updates have more or less 50 new strings. Within 1 week of a release, a dozen languages are fully translated. The responsiveness of our translators is quite rewarding.
Treat translators well
It’s quite amazing how many users will volunteer to translate your theme or plugin. In our case, we get new propositions every week.
We also get power translators, such as the remarkable Djio in Brazil, who extend their help beyond translation. Hats off.
However, it’s frustrating to see Premium and Freemium authors taking translators’ time for granted. I’ve seen volunteers expect little in return for their work. As a translator myself, I’ve witnessed a lack of recognition in the past.
If you’re serious about your theme or plugin, treating your translators as priority is an easy way to increase your user base.
Here’s how we prioritize our translators:
- Respond quickly to them
- Offer fast fixes for their issues
- Give them a free license or something else, even for an update
- Keep them in the loop for upcoming updates
Get a pro translator onboard
You might want to hire a professional software translator, especially if you’re a Premium or Freemium solution, like us. We took on François-Xavier (photo), a translation expert for hire with a rare pedigree.
He also works or volunteers for known projects and authors. To name a few: Yoast, Pippins, DevPress, Wp to Twitter, Hybrid themes & NextGen.
He essentially works 2 days a month and does the following:
- audits our plugin’s translation
- wrote an internal guideline for our developers
- helps managing our translators
- makes changes to our code directly in GitHub
- translates to French
The traditional translation tools are poor
The two common tools to manage translators and their translations in WordPress are frustrating.
First comes Poedit. Translators send translation files by email called MO and PO to plugin or theme authors. Quite simple. New translators will need to read a guide to use Poedit, unfortunately. This method is untenable when an author has to manage several translators working on several languages.
GlotPress would be a game changer if it was integrated directly in the theme and plugin repository. Unfortunately, this is not happening any time soon, says Otto, an administrator of the theme and plugin repository, when I contacted him by email.
Moreover, the development of GlotPress has been stalled for a while. The current plan is to convert it to a plugin. This upgrade is still in its infancy and is not a priority, according to Marko, one of its lead developers.
Transifex, the new way to translate
Transifex is a coherent online translation tool used by Reddit, Pinterest, Eventbrite, and Firefox, just to name a few of their 6000 projects with over 60,000 users. Impressive for a startup without seed funding.
This is what their slick user interface for online translation looks like:
Based on our own experience in the past 9 months, I believe Transifex can become the essential translation tool for our WordPress community. Or even a hub.
Joomla translators setup a successful concerted effort to translate over 200 components, or plugins, in one big joint effort using Transifex. You can view the project’s page on Transifex to get an idea of the scale.
Here’s a few reasons why Transifex meets our community’s needs:
- It makes both translating and managing translators simple.
- It’s a hosted solution.
- They release improvements every month.
- They respond to our feedback.
- It’s free for open source projects.
- You can even hire a translator.
“Try out Transifex and let us know how we can become a great tool for WP developers“, says Dimitri, Transifex’s CEO, when contacted by email.
Who wouldn’t be eager to leverage the largest Open Source community?