Can anyone provide me with links to research material stating best usability practice is not to develop websites with content written in two languages, but rather seperating content into two independent sites.

  • Id actually be interested in any research that says best practice is to develop multi lingual sites as a single site. Going through this very process now, and looking for ideas on how best to do it.
    – Nathan-W
    Jul 9, 2010 at 11:45
  • From experience of facilitating user testing sessions, I have seen people become frustrated quite easily because they fail to understand half the website content and struggle to use a duplicated primary navigation. So I am pretty certain that the best way to deal with this issue is to develop independent websites connected together via the top website banner.
    – Gavin Harris
    Jul 9, 2010 at 12:01
  • Gavin makes a true statement, but usually when we do multilingual it's not 2 languages, but several with ability to add others (using tagged content). I don't think developing lots of sites and adding when you need new language is the answer. Sorry.
    – Susan R
    Jul 9, 2010 at 14:00
  • 2
    No specific research, but to add to the conversation, different languages often involve different cultures, which ultimately can mean very different demographics/personas to be targetting.
    – DA01
    Jul 9, 2010 at 14:06
  • 1
    One for Nathan above The German Railways site just about pulls off the complications of dealing with European languages and culture... bahn.de
    – PhillipW
    Jul 10, 2010 at 10:11

2 Answers 2


Edit 8 November 2010

I found one more good link today

8 Tips For Designing Better Global Websites


  • Have country specific domains - it's better for search engines and better for users to find you - in other words .ie .fr .nl .jp etc. If you can't get country specific use sub-domains - fr.yourdomain.com. An example of this is Yahoo!

  • Don't mix the languages on the same part of your site ie have two or three languages on the same page.

  • Make sure the page defines what the language is in the code - this helps with the browsers but also search engines.

  • If you want to create a language 'chooser' - the ideal way is to have a portal where you make the selection - maybe a .com or .org portal.

  • Translate and optimise before you launch your site. (Have the tranlations checked too!)

  • Choose the languages you target based on real need - not on ease of translation (you may not be doing this

  • but some Web Certain research to be published soon suggests languages are often added because they were relatively 'easy' rather than important target languages - and if the alphabet is not roman - it's less likely to be used.)

  • Make sure you can back up the language with the service - in other words have a speaker of the language - or at least explain that the user will need to read English or another language - to view or use the site.

  • Don't 'force' language based on country - urdu speakers may well be British based in the UK. Nacho's given you two very good examples to consider in Epson and Greenpeace - but my advice would be to allow the user to choose the language AND location if both are appropriate. Take Belgium on the Epson example - that asks you to choose Belgium - then to choose between French and Flemish with French at the top of the screen. There are twice as many Flemish-speakers as French in Belgium and they might have expected top-billing. Equally, German is also an official language of Belgium (67,000 speakers) and is not represented, English is used by many of the institutions in Brussels. It's complicated - allowing a choice of language would be best.

  • Check your links, navigation and error messages are in the target language too - it's a common mistake for error pages to show up in the wrong language. (A site I looked at the other day gave an error message in German, had a French title and content in English....)

  • Test before you invest (phrase stolen from San Jose conference but can't remember who used it?) Look at using pay per clicks to trial your approach before you roll it out across all languages.

Good luck! refrence - http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/archive/index.php/t-1156.html


If you can afford it, it’s best to have a dedicated Top Level Domain for each of your target countries (for instance, www.wesellstuff.co.uk for the UK and www.wesellstuff.cn for China) as this will help to improve your ranking with country-specific search engines.

Best to avoid going for separate sub-domains (for example, http://cn.wesellstuff.com) as search engines will view sub-domains more or less as the same site as the TLD and you will lose any of the relevancy generated by your carefully constructed in-country SEO techniques.

With this in mind, you’re also best ensuring that your webhost for each of your in-country websites has its server based ‘in-country’. Some webhosts use servers based in another country and given that Google uses this data in its search algorithm, it’s of real benefit to each of your websites to have everything as localised as possible.

reference - http://www.thewebsqueeze.com/web-design-articles/how-to-make-your-website-multilingual.html

I found these articles are worth to read

Multi-Language Web Development http://www.stylusinc.com/website/multilanguage_support.htm

Tips for planning multi-language websites http://econsultancy.com/blog/5763-tips-for-planning-multi-language-websites

  • the forcing language to match country thing is one of my biggest hates as an English speaker in French speaking Switzerland who always has to wrestle with German language sites (angry glare at paypal) Dec 18, 2015 at 7:02

Check this out:

How Should Language Selection be Displayed on the Web?

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