Since the user's language preference can be retrieved from navigator.language or the Accept-Language header, is it necessary to provide a language switcher on the page itself?

Some reasons given to do so are:

  • If my language is not well-supported and the localization of my browser in my language is poor or nonexistent
  • I'm using a shared browser

I don't know of any currently spoken languages that are not available in the browser's preference.

Using a shared browser seems like a red-haring to me. If you are using a shared browser in a country that doesn't speak your language, then the whole interface isn't going to be in your language anyways. Also, if it's a country with more than one language spoken, that should be accommodated.

The compromise is to provide a language switcher, but set the initial language based on what the browser provides. This is how it should be done with a language switcher, but is the switcher necessary at all? If so, why?

  • Related: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/55646/… Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 5:08
  • I am a Korean living in English speaking country. My clients and my colleagues use English so my machine's default language is set to English. BUT I feel much more comfortable with my native language, which is Korean so I often set website language settings to Korean (e.g. Expedia, Agoda).
    – ehoon
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 10:29

2 Answers 2


I can provide an example. My browser settings are in english. Thats because at my working place a lot of the communication is in english. But I have a different nativ language. If the content of a site is available in my nativ language i prefer to consume it in my nativ language. That's why i would appreciate a language selector.

  • You can set your preferred language as the primary language, websites should choose the first language they support Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 21:09

Bruno's answer gives one very good reason. Along the same lines, if an English speaker in a multi-national company were to visit their French offices and used a "spare PC", the locals probably wouldn't appreciate if all the browser settings were changed to English.

Another advantage of having a language-selector "in app" (in cases where you log-in to the app) is that you can make it an account-preference. When the above English speaker logged-in on a French PC, the app would see that their preferred language was English and automatically switch without them needing to do it manually.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.