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I have just been looking at the analytics of one of the websites I work on, and one of the features is required - but rarely used. There is a Microsoft Translate button, with their "Powered by Microsoft Translator" on the page, which has been used 650 times out of 25,500 visits.

The placement is central, and directly underneath the item title, so I have no doubt that it is in a noticeable place, it just simply isn't being used.

I can't remove this, and my immediate thought was to put the functionality behind a translate icon, such as one here: http://thenounproject.com/tag/translate/

Any thoughts on this? Are there any other good patterns to look at?

Thanks!

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You could get the language from the http request (or guess it from the IP), and add a little overlayed element to emphasize the translation option (a la google chrome). –  Peter Feb 24 '13 at 21:27

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I think there a number of questions you should be asking your self from multiple perspectives:

Visual design :

  1. Does the translate button stand out compared to the rest of the page or does it get overshadowed by the rest of the content such as the item title

Demographics

  1. What is the demographics of the users who are accessing your site ? If its mostly people who speak english (or what ever language the site is in) that could account for the low usage
  2. What is the type of browser most people use ? Google chrome does automatic translations using Google translate or atleast offers to do it,so there might be a case where the users are already seeing translated content when they come on the page

Textual translation of the content on the translate button

  1. I assume the text on the button says "Translate" or something like that. If the text is embedded in the image, then users might come to the page,understand nothing and might not be able to understand the translate button since it was in a language they dont understand at all.

With regards to using the translate icon, I dont recommend it since you could potentially cause confusion about what it means ( There are some icons which are universal and accepted across the world but I doubt a translate icon is one of them). Another issue is that the icon might get lost in the page content (if the layout is not proper).

A approach to do the translate it would to go with the approach which Google offers that is to detect the language on the page and offer to translate it as shown below :

enter image description here

You will have to set the system to automatically determine the language based upon the preferred language settings set in the system as chrome does it.

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