|Example #9: Language
Date: 11 january 2004
Multi-language sites are sometimes hard to visit, especially
if they are not written in your language. I was looking for
a specific type of switch, thus browsing some tech. sites in
Switzerland. Landing on "topd" website was easy (loadtime),
but the home page by default was written in german (most of
swiss site do so since the majority of swiss citizen are speaking
this language). I then looked in the top area of the page to
see either a "french" flag or the accronym "fr"
to get it translated. Unfortunately, I could not find it. Even
after some scanning of the page (lower zone, left bar, etc.),
I was not able to figure out how to change it. Luckily, my mouse
went close from the welcome button, and there, to my surprise,
I could see a roll-over zone where it was possible to switch
to french ! 30 seconds lost...
Errors / Recommendations:
If you are making the effort of translating your content in
different languages, make sure you get some return from it !
In the top navigation area, include either flags or recognisable
accronyms ("ge" for german users won't work, use "de"
instead as it stands for "deutsch") for your users
to be able to change from one language to another. Some would
put that navigational element in the lower part of the site
or on the left nav. but I would not do so, since a majority
of sites are placing it on the top. Again, do not forget that
it's hard to change users habits, especially if you are not
"Amazon" or "Google".
Note: if your site is also translated in languages not using
western characters, make sure the western characters for changing
language remain in their original forms. Imagine you change
by error the site language to Korean, how will you do the difference
between the "Eng", "De" or "Fr"
accronyms if they are translated ?
Screenshots (click to enlarge in a new window)