Which provides better UX for a dropdown displaying user language options?

  • Using natural or current language?
  • Sorting by most popular, most recent, alphabetized, region?

natural (target) language

  • English (United States)
  • Français (Canada)
  • Español (Estados Unidos)
  • 日本語 (日本)

current language

  • English (United States)
  • French (Canada)
  • Spanish (United States)
  • Japanese (Japan)

such that they translate

  • Anglais (États Unis)
  • Français (Canada)
  • Espanol (États Unis)
  • Japonais (Japon)

1 Answer 1


Natural language. If I can't read English, I also can't read "Spanish" in English.

Ordering depends on context. Some sites have a landing page with regional links, then it would make sense to copy those categories. Alphabetical is a good default. Most default/recent are likely too complex to be interpreted for what they are if the list is long and provide little benefit if you don't have to scroll.

Potentially have 1 or 2 'official' languages pinned to the top if you have many options. So for a chinese factory: Chinese, English | Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

If you have different categories always indicate separation with something like a horizontal rule!

  • 1
    2nd using the target (natural) language. Accidentally flipped a handheld game console into Japanese and had no idea which of the (to me) list of meaningless squiggles meant "English". I would, however, go with keeping the recently used options at the top (I suspect most people regularly changing languages won't use more than the same two or possibly three).
    – TripeHound
    Jul 10, 2017 at 15:13
  • I agree, for example see apple.com/choose-your-country
    – Stefano
    Aug 8, 2017 at 21:58

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