WPMU lets you run several WordPress based websites with a single installation and a single administration panel. Typically, it’s used to build blog farms but it’s also a great tool for running multi-lingual sites.
What’s WordPress MU (WPMU)?
WPMU is an extension for WordPress, allowing to run multiple WordPress sites from a single install and with a single administration login. We’ve already written here about how to install WordPress for multiple language blogs. WPMU is a much more systematic approach for running multiple blogs from the same code, sharing plugins and themes.
Besides sharing the same install directory, WPMU includes essential management for administrating multiple blogs from one central admin panel.
How can WPMU help build multi-lingual websites?
This is what we’ll do:
- Run each language as an independent blog within the WPMU install.
- Use the ICanLocalize Translation system to synchronize between contents in different languages.
If you want to see exactly how to do this, follow this detailed guide for using WPMU to run multilingual websites.
What’s good with this approach?
The best thing about building your multi-lingual WordPress site with WPMU is that everything just falls into place.
WordPress is designed to serve contents in a single language. Some plugins aim to provide multi-lingual support by duplicating tables and adding custom fields. These things work, but require major changes throughout WordPress. As a result, they’re very sensitive to WordPress updates and often cause conflicts with other plugins or with code in themes.
When you run each language in its own blog, everything works as intended. Each blog runs a single language, without any changes to the normal tables. The collection of blogs, implemented by WPMU provides the multi-lingual experience.
WPMU can be used to create full multi-lingual websites, not just blogs!
WordPress, although started as a blogging platform can be used to create full websites. We’re using it for our developers site, and our digital photography software site. WPMU makes it possible to do the same and create great multi-lingual sites.
A recent entry in our developers site shows how to use WordPress as CMS, by setting a static home page and assigning the blog page to a different page. The same thing can be applied to WPMU, when each blog instance is serving a different language.