How to Translate the Language Selector on Your Website

How to Translate the Language Selector on Your Website

The other day, don’t ask me how I managed to, I ended up on the Arabic version of a multilingual website. However, since I don’t speak Arabic, I was unable to find the information that I was looking for.

Then, when I tried to get back to the English version of the site, I realized that the drop-down language selector was in Arabic.

So, it was not easy for me to figure out which of the options displayed was the link to the English version of the website.

In the end, I decided to click the first one, assuming it would send me to the English page… And I was lucky! Pure chance though!

But, what can you do to avoid the users of your website facing this same issue I experienced?

Today I want to share with you some tips on how to display languages in your website’s language selector menu.

Use the name of the language in that specific language

This is probably the most user-friendly solution, since users can quickly identify their own language from the list. So, English for the English version, Français for the French version, Nederlands for the Dutch version, etc.

Do not translate the names in the language of the version the user is viewing

This is what happened to me with the Arabic version of the website I was navigating. If users end up on a language version that they can’t understand, how will they choose the right language if not by chance?

An alternative to this approach would be translating the relevant language name between brackets. For example, in a website in English, you could display the available languages as follows:

  • German version (Deutsch)
  • French version (Français)
  • Spanish version (Español)

Avoid country flags by all means!

Flags are often viewed as politically incorrect. They represent countries, not languages. And there are many languages that are spoken in different countries. Also, some users might not be able to identify some flags.

Think of a user in Australia, why should she/he click on the flag of the U.S.A. to view the website in English?

Automatically redirect based on browser language

Another way to improve user experience is to insert a code in your site so that your users are automatically redirected to their preferred browser language when available. You can also determine a default language for those users whose language is not available in your website.

Here at Arancho Doc, our website’s language selector displays the different options in the relevant language:


What is the scenario that your company applies?

Find out what’s the best way to translate your website in less than 5 minutes with this self-evaluation:

By | 2017-06-06T13:16:52+00:00 July 15th, 2015|Blog, Website Localization|

About the Author:

Inge Boonen – Sales Director International
Inge Boonen has been active in the localization industry for 15 years. She is currently Sales Director International at Arancho Doc focusing on providing value-added language services and solutions to her customers. Prior to joining Arancho Doc, Inge held various positions at a world top 20 language service provider, including project manager, account manager and sales manager. With an academic background in languages and translation, and practical experience as a translator and proofreader, Inge is passionate about all aspects of the translation industry. Inge's ultimate aim is to support the global development strategy of her customers thanks to her in-depth knowledge, extensive experience and hands-on approach.

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