I'm working on a project - the site is currently set up with a 'language' toggle on the homepage (gives the option of the site in Eng, and two other languages). However, not all the pages in the languages (other then English) actually have translations on the site (so they've chosen to translate some 'main' areas of the site in the two other languages). This presents a really inconsistent user experience. Also, we know that people don't look for a language, they prefer looking for where they're based (as the reason why they want to view the site in their language is because they're after offices/project information in that area) - that's based on user testing we've carried out.

We have suggested only translating the Location/Office pages and then building up into Country sites in the future (they have limited budget for translation atm).

The client has challenged: "What we have at the moment is symbols visible from the homepage of the site to view top level pages in a different language. If we go country first, and the point of access to these translated pages is from country pages, how does this work from a UX point of view? How does the user sitting in Peru who lands on the homepage know that there is translated content available?"

My answer is to explain again about the inconsistent (current) user experience and the fact that if someone is googling in Peru for Peru language content on their Company, Google would hopefully pick up the page that's translated and take them directly there.

Has anyone come across this issue before? Any advice on what else could be done/advice to give the client or best practice to do in the interim (as they can't do Country/Language sites straight away due to budget). IP detection is out of the scope too.

Thank you in advance.

  • I know this is an old question, but I don't get the "low budget for translation". As a hint, you can hire someone for 10 or 20 dollars to translate 100 or 200 lines of text and use a .pot file or similar, then have a consistent and perfect solution rather than some patched app
    – Devin
    Mar 27, 2016 at 22:31

3 Answers 3


Be very careful with linking countries to languages. This is one of the all-too common UX flaws of our time.

Just because I'm in Switzerland doesn't mean that I speak German (Not least because I'm in the French part of Switzerland, but that's a different issue).

In our increasingly international world people in country A who prefer language B are becoming more and more common.

If you can't translate the entire site into another language then only translating certain sections isn't a great way to go. A common usability error I've seen that pops up particularly in local government websites, is that the website looks like a normal website available in multiple languages, however most links take you to a page in the primary language with only one or two links actually working in the secondary language. The best way to go IMO would be to have a big clear link somewhere that says 'Information in Spanish/Información en español'. Make it clear that this is just one page with some limited information just in case the reader doesn't speak English.

If you want such pages in multiple language....well then that complicates things. Again, I could well be a Chinese man in Peru who doesn't speak English or Spanish (unlikely, but possible). Here I can only guess that you'd need a link that says "information in other languages" and mark it as being international in some way-> flags, the nice graphic that says information in a bunch of languages, something like that. I don't think you could get away with a small link here.


Although this is not strictly to do with User experience and more to with the website setup/structure - but let me try to help (assuming I have understood the problem):

1) For the top level pages, you can go for a site.com/mainpage/de/, site.com/mainpage/fr/, etc. kind of page setups. The English language can be the home page, or if needed, can go in site.com/mainpage/en

2) This makes SEO easier, and can still use Webmaster Tools geotargeting.

3) Since the page is there on the web, a user from Peru will most probably land on to the page relevant to his/her language - as google will search and show him that relevant page.

4) As a good UX, apart from the main page language selection - you can add a feature to detect geography, and pop up a non-intrusive message box, asking user if he/she would prefer to translate the page in local language (if available).

Note, there are better ways to structure and orient the language/geography implementation, wrt SEO and UX.

Some links:

1) https://moz.com/ugc/secrets-of-seo-success-in-other-languages-15072

2) http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.in/2010/03/working-with-multilingual-websites.html

Hope this helps!

  • Thank you! The site will be set up as per your site.com/mainpage/de example in Point 1 - but it will only be the Location pages we can do that with at this stage. So users won't see the fact that those pages are translated on the homepage... that's what the client is asking about. Ideally, in the future, it will mean that they can get other pages translated and eventually the whole site. We can't do the 4) feature (IP address detection) due to scope. Thanks for your reply anyway!
    – Olshk
    Nov 26, 2015 at 15:57

Use a Generic Icon, Link to Office Info Pages in Local Language

Use a visually obvious icon like a globe or a map in your main nav. This says "Click here for stuff to do with location and language".

In a dropdown from that icon, provide links in different languages. This says "Hey look, we have offices that cater for your language".

That means you'd have an absolute minimum of three pages to translate.

You could also include a message on those pages along the lines of "Many pages on this site are available in your language" and perhaps offer a small sitemap of these pages, if the number of translated pages isn't too large.

This is just a starting point, let me know if this is resonating and we can work the idea more.

Also, I'd do whatever you can to expand the scope a bit. MaxMind GeoIP doesn't cost that much, and writing the scripts to manage the cookies can be cheaply outsourced if your team can't handle it. The alternative it faffing around with one-size-fits-all solutions and potentially losing customers because of poor localization efforts.


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