I'm about to start a blog, written both in English and Spanish, so I have several concerns:

1) Default language: Is setting it based on the users's browser language really accurate? (any statistics?). If not, are there better practices? (e.g. asking before content loading ). In this case, I'm asking about blogs, where users won't have an account.

2) Switching language: Once the page is loaded, is it necessary to give users the chance to change it? (I guess it depends on the accuracy of point 1). Supposing that you place some control (e.g. dropdown), should it be place at a Web level or at a "article" level?

3) URLs: Should I use the same URLs and change content or use different URLs (e.g. domain.com/en/... AND domain.com/es/...)? Is redirecting an option? What would be the best choice for UX and SEO?

I'm asking these three questions in the same UX.SE question because it seems that they have intimately related answers and separating them seems like it will lose the "big picture" of the end goal.

  • I think if you are going to write a blog in two languages only then you are thinking too much about it. Focus on the content, get the audience and then engage them (actively or passively) for feedback.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented May 18, 2015 at 23:16

2 Answers 2

  1. It is a good starting point, but not always accurate. There are different ways to detect the user's language. If the IP address is used it fails for traveling users. If the browser's language is used it still fails in internet cafes, hotel lobbies, etc.
  2. Yes, it is necessary to allow users to change the language. Be careful how you present the choices: it's very frustrating if you are going to Japan and can't find the language switcher because it says "言語". I would present language choices at the "page" level, so if there's a page for an article that the user might find directly through a web search, then he should be able to set the language there. If you present five articles on the same page it makes little sense to have five places to change the language.
  3. I can't answer what is best for SEO, but from a UX perspective it doesn't make much difference if the language is part of the URL. Ideally, the user would ignore the URL.

In regards to your first question I'd say let the browser language decide but if it really matters to you then a landing page with a Spanish or English button before entering would be fine and then use that decision to determine which version of the site you show.

For question number two I'd say it's going to be a bit of a novel experience UX-wise if you want to do it well so there aren't that many good precedents to go on. I'd suggest you have each post with a tab or switch at the top to change between Spanish and English. Or even a banner across the top (albeit thin) that has the switch in. It would be worth testing a few options to be honest. I once had a tutor at university who had a bilingual website and she took a 'mirror' approach whereby the two languages sit side-by-side...quite interesting but more so because she was interested in the relationship between language and architecture and uses her bilingual background to inform that site and her research.

See here if you're interested: http://www.carolinerabourdin.com/

I'd hesitate to answer on the SEO front as it's not my area and as illuminaut has said - UX wise it doesn't matter much (unless the browser is using the URL info to determine how it displays the pages to people I suppose).

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