I'm using a CMS that supports multiple languages and the build-in SEO tools are decent.

The problem is that it doesn't support switching between languages while remaining on the same page, because it's the creators opinion that content can be different between languages so languages aren't interlinked.

From a user experience point of view I think this is bad but what are your opinions? Is a redirect to the homepage when switching languages ok?

  • What do you mean "languages aren't interlinked"?
    – dnbrv
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 17:13
  • 1
    I think he means that when he changes the language on a content page,he is unable to do so directly without it loading a fresh version of the site with that language
    – Mervin
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


I think the CMS designers are probably right. The problem is that it is perfectly possible that certain pages are not valid in other languages - the entire site structure MAY be different between languages, and so the current location is not necessarily valid in a new language.

Of course, your particular site may well be identical across languages, but if this cannot be guaranteed, the homepage is a good place to return to. You could, of course, include coding on your page to return to the same page in the new language, but I guess you are trying to avoid this sort of coding.

From a user perspective, I cannot see a good reason for wanting a specific page in another language, rather than the entire site. In other words, I think that the vast majority of users will navigate in the same language that they speak, so they will change language firstly - or very early - and progress from there. Changing language anywhere other than the home page is extremely rare ( I have seen, years ago, so evidence of this ).

So I think you are right to express concern and think about it, but in practical terms, I don't think it is a problem that will arise for many users.

  • 3
    Ah yes, but then again, the home page is not always the landing page and coming in from a search engine result in English one might see the "languages" combo or whatever and decide to switch to one's native language. Or the other way around for that matter, I have followed search results in German, found the site offered English as well and switched to that (Oh and I am a Dutch native speaker). Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 8:15
  • Good point about the search page not necessarily being the landing page. The only way you can identify this is page stats - seeing which pages people change the language on. If google hit pages are a big portion, it is probably worth retaining this and coding to stay on the same page. As for your multi-lingual approach - yes it is valid, but is it common enough to put in the work arounds? Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 9:10
  • Well, I guess for non-native English speakers it would be a lot more common than for native English speakers. I do feel though that if you offer a multi-lingual site, you really should allow for switching languages on any page. After all, I may be comfortable reading some information in a different language but may want to switch to my native language for a more involved piece of information. Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 9:35
  • Which is why you need to find out whether it is significant. The evidence I mentioned showed that AT THE TIME it was not common, but this may have changed. And it may be the case for your site that this is more common. There is not a single straightforward answer, as it will depend on your site and your users. Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 13:46
  • I guess I simply feel differently about this. My approach would be to offer switching on all pages, and deal with structural/content differences by only offering the languages in which the current page is available. The home page c/would then serve as an anchor from which all languages are accessible. But I absolutely agree that you need to find out whether it is significant audience and content wise. Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 15:08

Without knowing language - it is difficult to me to be guided on a site, therefore I can't use neither navigation nor a content.

Which you describe a situation is more likely similar to transition to page from search results or a foreign site URL.

You are right, that's not so good, cause in this case from all contents I can disassemble only the control panel site localization.

If language change is impossible without transition to the main page of a site (in a kind of features CMS) - quite enough notice of the user on this fact with possibility to refuse transition.

It will be good, if you prompt to it to use Google Translate Bar or others online possibilities of language transfers.

Anyhow - if I don't know Japanese - I hardly will distinguish the home page from any other.

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