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I'm building an online store for an Indonesian market, so the front-end must be in Bahasa Indonesian.

Will using the English version of WP, and a theme in English without .po files, introduce complications/errors/bad experience if the content is in Bahasa Indonesia? Ie. Incorrect language attributes. Or is it ok to use the English version of WP and fill it with content written in Bahasa Indonesia?

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There is no technical problem in doing so, and there won't be any complications or errors.

However, it could be that not all content on the site will be in Indonesian. Some strings in themes and in other places in the front-end are outputted by WordPress, and as all strings are in English in WordPress by default, some content on your website might be in English.

Thus, if you don't rely on localization anywhere, there shouldn't be a bad user experience either.

A better solution, however, might be to change the locale depending on whether the page being served is front-end or back-end: Different Language for Frontend and Backend.

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  • After playing around I see the lang attribute added to the html element is controlled by the WPLANG variable in wp-config.php. If the content is in Indonesian, the lang attribute should be id_ID. So it stands to reason that .po/.mo files should be used to localize strings defined in the theme, as you mention in your answer.
    – Andrew
    Jun 11 '14 at 7:27

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