I am working on a multilingual content streaming website. By multilingual I mean we have multilingual content. The whole website is however in English.

And we have multiple categories (TV, Movies, News etc.)

We don't have all the languages in all of the categories. For ex: Content from Language A might be available in TV/Movies but not in News.

We wanted to remember the language preference of each user so that we don't show him content which are not from the his set of languages.

The present implementation just looks like a bunch of links, its not multi-select and we don't remember his choice either.

This is what we are thinking of doing :-

Multi Select look :-


We are going to display all the languages on each page so that the user has easy access to his selected languages. And also that the language bar looks constant throughout the website.

How should I make it obvious to the user that the some of the languages are not available in the present page ?


2 Answers 2


My first instinct would be to simply not show buttons for sections that don't have content available in that language.

If, however, you plan to update those sections some time in the short-to-medium term to have content in those languages, you could hint that to the user by showing the language button but dimmed or otherwise obviously disabled.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

RESPONSE: @MarutiBorker I think, in terms of UX, "consistency" in a language bar does not mean that it contains all of the same buttons, it means that you consistently show what's available. Showing buttons for languages that are not available, and thereby having to disable them, is arguably a much poorer user experience.

  • Thanks @msanford The problem with not showing buttons for sections that don't have content available is the language bar wouldn't look consistent. Do you think thats a bigger deal in terms of UX ? Commented May 15, 2012 at 6:23
  • I thought of dimming the language. But then I have four states :- 1) Language available but not selected 2) Language avaialble but selected 3) Language unavailable but selected 4) Language unavaialble but not selected I think it will be very confusing for the user to intuitively understand these 4 states. Commented May 15, 2012 at 6:26
  • @MarutiBorker I'm updating my question with a response.
    – msanford
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 14:28

I like your idea of keeping the language bar consistent for all the pages, this shows that even if you don't have their desired language for one type of content, you might have it for another. You should just gray out the boxes for languages that are not available for a specific type of content.

Also, if you are going to save language preferences for a user, perhaps you should allow them to select a secondary language for when they are viewing content that is not available in their desired language or perhaps just default to "all".

  • The problem with defaulting to "all" is confusion. Also, if content is not available in my langauge preferences, I can't consume it and showing it to me is of now use. Commented May 15, 2012 at 6:25

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