Best practices for Country location and languages on Global Websites (was Language Picker)

10 Jun 2009 - 11:27am
5 years ago
9 replies
4073 reads
Catriona Lohan-...
2007

Jason,

Did you read my mind I was just about to send out a similar post.

My line of thought was about best practices on how users select countries and languages on global websites.

A few questions...
Should sites auto detect IP addresses and serve default settings according to country, language?
Should users have ability to chose their preferred country and language preferences off a splash page as in Ikea.com on a first visit (and/or subsequent visits) and have the ability to change at will?

Thanks

Catríona
__________________________
Catríona Lohan-Conway
User Experience Architect
917 405 5127
clohanconway at mac.com

On Wednesday, June 10, 2009, at 03:51AM, "Jason Robb" <jason at jasonrobb.com> wrote:
>Hi all,
>
>I'm new to building internationalized web sites, and so I'm looking
>at design patterns for language pickers.
>
>Have you seen any good ones? Much appreciated. Thanks!
>
>Jason R.
>
>--
>Jason Robb
>http://jasonrobb.com
>http://uxboston.com
>http://uiscraps.tumblr.com
>
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Reply to this thread at ixda.org
>http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42722
>
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Comments

10 Jun 2009 - 8:13pm
DampeS8N
2008

Always ALWAYS do for the user what you can do for them. Auto-detect
and provide -some- way to second guess the machine. But don't expect
a lot of people to second guess.

The best language picker is the one the user never sees.
If you can't auto-detect, and you almost always can, a decent picker
would be one that makes it easy to find the most common choices. And
possible to find the least common.

English - French - German - Spanish - Pig Latin - Klingon

In the respective languages of course. Followed by a select box with
all of them in alphabetical order, even the ones you selected to
break out into links.

Best of all worlds, I think.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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10 Jun 2009 - 8:36pm
Brian O'Neill
2009

William stole my reply! ;-)

And of course, write the names of the languages *in* their own
language (Español, not Spanish). Not sure about everyone else, but I
don't know how to read the word "English" written in Mandarin
characters ;-)

I would be careful (avoid?) using country flags as icons for language
too since many countries have multiple languages. You do see that on
European travel sites a fair amount but it breaks down (Switzerland
is a great example). Not to mention oh how it burns me having to
click a British flag to see a website in English for a hotel in
Paris! j.k. ;-)

I also think the language selection dropdown or whatever it is, can
be moved to the bottom of the UI or somewhere out of the way; you
don't need constant reminders that you can switch languages on the
site. Classic example of Set and Forget.

Good luck Jason!
Brian

www.rhythmspice.com

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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11 Jun 2009 - 6:53am
Gregor Kiddie
2008

" A few questions...
Should sites auto detect IP addresses and serve default settings
according to country, language?"

I would say no, if only based on personal experience.
Our corporate connection goes through our headquarters in France.
Google in particular seems to be determined to direct me to the French
version of all its pages, which is extremely annoying.

Gregor Kiddie
Senior Developer
INPS

Tel: 01382 564343

Registered address: The Bread Factory, 1a Broughton Street, London SW8
3QJ

Registered Number: 1788577

Registered in the UK

Visit our Internet Web site at www.inps.co.uk

The information in this internet email is confidential and is intended
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by anyone else is not authorised. Any views or opinions presented are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of
INPS or any of its affiliates. If you are not the intended recipient
please contact is.helpdesk at inps.co.uk

11 Jun 2009 - 10:20am
Karima Saad
2009

I would be careful with detecting IP addresses. Some users might be logging on the website from different countries and they might not speak the country language. So I think it would be better if the user was left to choose the language on their own. :)

11 Jun 2009 - 5:28pm
usabilitymedic
2008

As someone who recently returned from Denmark to the US I'm not loving
the auto detect of IP address.

I got sevved a few sites in Danish...and I don't know any Danish.

I understand how valuable it can be for the tons of folks who are on
their own environment but for the frequent taveller it must be a pain.

If there's a way around this, i'm unaware so any insight would be
great. Thx.

-mm

Sent from my iPhone

On Jun 10, 2009, at 12:27 PM, Catriona Lohan-conway <clohanconway at mac.com
> wrote:

> Jason,
>
> Did you read my mind I was just about to send out a similar post.
>
> My line of thought was about best practices on how users select
> countries and languages on global websites.
>
> A few questions...
> Should sites auto detect IP addresses and serve default settings
> according to country, language?
> Should users have ability to chose their preferred country and
> language preferences off a splash page as in Ikea.com on a first
> visit (and/or subsequent visits) and have the ability to change at
> will?
>
> Thanks
>
> Catríona
> __________________________
> Catríona Lohan-Conway
> User Experience Architect
> 917 405 5127
> clohanconway at mac.com
>
>
>
>
>
> On Wednesday, June 10, 2009, at 03:51AM, "Jason Robb" <jason at jasonrobb.com
> > wrote:
>> Hi all,
>>
>> I'm new to building internationalized web sites, and so I'm looking
>> at design patterns for language pickers.
>>
>> Have you seen any good ones? Much appreciated. Thanks!
>>
>> Jason R.
>>
>> --
>> Jason Robb
>> http://jasonrobb.com
>> http://uxboston.com
>> http://uiscraps.tumblr.com
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Reply to this thread at ixda.org
>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42722
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

11 Jun 2009 - 6:47pm
DampeS8N
2008

Gregor. You are in the vast minority.

ONLY using IP is dangerous. A splash page is a bad idea because you
route 99% of your users to a useless page. Make it easy to switch to
a new language, auto-detect, and you will be fine.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42726

11 Jun 2009 - 10:04pm
Marcus Coghlan
2007

If you are working on an International site, I'd suggest a 3 level
approach - last level optional.

First level: Regional Domains.
.com for (U.S) English, .co.uk for (U.K) English, .co.au for whatever
we speak in Australia, .co.jp for Japanese, etc. I'd start here for
the following reasons:
a) I'd hazard a guess that most people around the globe would be
familiar with the region domains associated with their country/native
language and may even be familiar with the technique of directly
switching .co.au to .co.jp to get to the Japanese site.
b) if your user's use Google for their search, chances are they'll
be doing it from their native region domain - e.g. google.com.au or
google.co.jp. When I run a search for "Sony" from these 2 places,
the (Australian) English Sony site and Japanese Sony site come back
in no. 1 place respectively.
c) you have the advantage of another layer of segmentation to play
with - language plus region.

Second Level: IP Address for best second guess.
Say your user is in Japan, but somehow ends up on sony.com.au where
everything is in Australian English. Use their IP address to provide
a customized link to the Japanese version of the site, but don't
force them to go there as they may well be looking for the
English/Australian version of the site. The link should, of course,
be in the language associated with the IP address. In this example,
Japanese.

Third level: Manual override.
If you feel you need to go even further than this (perhaps to cater
for diverse ethnic groups within a single region), then I'd
recommend either:
a) links (in appropriate language) to the region/language specific
sites - in the footer should suffice.
b) a combo-box to the same effect.

Hope this helps. Cheers.

Marcus.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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15 Jun 2009 - 2:24pm
Yohan Creemers
2008

For choosing a default language, you could (or even should) use the
language preference of the user.

With each request the browser includes the language preference of the
user. It's stored in the variable HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE and will look
like something as "en-ca,en;q=0.8,fr-ca;q=0.5,fr;q=0.3".

The http_accept_language variable contains a comma separated list of
possible languages/locales, each (optional) with a quotient
indicating the order of importance.

To check your own language setting visit:
http://www.ylab.nl/lab/lang.php

- Yohan

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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16 Jun 2009 - 8:37am
Sofia Ferrés
2008

"Always ALWAYS do for the user what you can do for them."

I wouldn't say always DO, i'd rather say always give the flexibility to
CHOOSE, because we never know exactly what all users want or need. Gregor, I
totally agree with you. Google search is my top of mind example for this
kind of behavior - always send me to Brazil's sites even though I didn't
start my search at .com.br
Facebook and Youtube ask me (although they ask me every log-in!) if I want
to migrate to portuguese version of its sites...

In the other hand, if I always translate some words from portuguese to
english, couldn't "Google Translate" always offers me that option right in
the first position, as default? This would be still flexibility to choose,
but with some intelligence behind it.

Regards, Sofia Ferrés

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