We have a webapp with a front/presentation/landing page. On this page it is possible to change language and, for already registered users, to login to the secure area.

Now we have a "Change language" drop down on this front page. We also have a option to change language on the secure pages after login (via a Settings page).

What is the correct way from a usability point of view:

  1. Should the language on the secure pages reflect the language the user sees when he logs in
  2. Should the language after login be independent of whatever language the users sees before login

I'm asking this because we get reports that there is a bug: The user change langauge on the front page, but sees another language on the secure area after login. This is by design and the "right" way in my oppinion but is percived as a bug.

What do you think. The front of the webapp can be seen here: www.jobmatchprofile.com

  • 5
    I would argue that - regardless of the correct way to do it - if you're getting lots of issues from users reporting that it's a Bug and isn't working properly then you should change the site to match the user expectations. Listen to the users.
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 16:39
  • @JonW it depends of course...what if you change the behavior and even more users start reporting the new bug? In this case either situation could yield unexpected behavior, but it's probably rarer that someone sets a language and doesn't want to keep that language
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 18:41
  • Yes, fair point. My comment should be: Yes, listen to your users, and use that information when considering whether (or not) to make the change.
    – JonW
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 19:32
  • @Ben Brocka so you're suggesting that only when the user actually changes the language before login should the app keep the change in the logged-in area? Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


A few thoughts:

  • The language the registered user sees upon logging in to the secure area should be whatever they have already indicated in their settings is their preference.
  • If a registered and logged-in user is viewing pages outside of the secured area after being logged in, their preferences should be retained in that area as well.
  • If a user is in the general area, and has not logged in, and has changed their language in that area (because their preferences cannot technically be associated with them yet), then the selection they have made at that point should carry through to their logged-in area. In the situation that could possibly arise in which the non-logged-in user has selected a language that is different from their saved preference, or they have not saved a preference, an alert to the difference and ability to change/save would be nice.

Regardless of what I or others here may say though, do not discount that your users are telling you that they think the current functionality is not providing the experience they expect/want. Since it seems you have users who do care enough to offer this feedback, it sounds like you're in a good position to try a few different options and solicit specific feedback from those same users.

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