When it comes to presenting your website in the correct language for your visitors, there is no “one size fits all” solution to website language selector functionalities. Based on your client profile and website development budget, some options may work better for you than others. Here are some pros and cons for the top online language selector solutions.
1. Selection menus
Drop-down menus are commonly found in the top or bottom right corners of a page. It’s a simple, clearly labeled tab that allows visitors to scroll through language options themselves.
The advantage of selection menus is that they are often the cheapest solution that requires very little development time. It is also very customizable, as you can separate the list by language or region, add flag icons, and add dialects. However, selection menus don’t promote ideal user experience, as they can lead to endless scrolling and poor mobile optimization.
2. Single language dedicated buttons
You’ve probably seen these buttons on government sites when a population speaks two main languages. For example, the Government of Canada often has a French and English switch in the top right corner, while US government sites have Spanish and English.
This is a great option to allow users to flip over to a different localized version of the site. However, this is not a good choice if you have more than two languages as it will take up too much space.
3. Text links
This is a solution in between the two above, when you don’t have enough language options for a full selection menu but have too many for a dedicated button.
Text links are generally found in the footer and are either dynamic or static. A dynamic approach would look at the IP address of a visitor to establish their location and present the appropriate language text links for their region. Static links would be fixing all language links somewhere on your page, probably in the footer.
No matter which option you choose, it’s essential to follow language selection best practices, which include:
- Always using the local spelling of the language. French should be Français, Chinese should be 中文, etc.
- Dynamic automation is a great tool, but it’s best to give your visitor the option to change the language chosen for them.
- Flags are great for regionality, but don’t use these icons unless the language is specific to that country. The flag of Brazil on a generic Portuguese translation is confusing.
- Don’t forget to give visitors the option to change their currency!
Web design is an exciting practice of creativity and with proper localization, your site will shine in all languages.