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My site has a multilingual audience. The site (WatStory) is a writing/ blogging and reading community and supports 3 languages (English, Hindi, Bengali) right now. Content is largely user generated.

I am offering a "Change Language" button in the top bar which can be used by the users.

If "non-logged" user selects a language from this option, the site copy/ menus are changed to user chosen language and only content/posts that have been originally created in that language and associated tags are shown.The user can read the posts created in selected language.

If the user logs in for the first time, the language defaults to English even if user was using site in some other language before login (Think this is okay as users know English). (Seen Facebook do the same as site viewing language initially before login may be different than user setting language)

Post login user can use the same "Change Language" option in the top bar to select the language to write or read in. The next time user logs in the language defaults to the language they were using at time of last logout.

I am segregating the user generated content across languages and content is not being translated due to the kind of content. There is no separate option for user to specify language in user settings, the top bar "Change Language" is it. Need to understand if there are any UX best practices to offer these change language options and provide good UX for multilingual experience.

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    What is the question ? Based on what you described, you have an option to select language and you are displaying content based on that selection (logged in or not). What else are you looking for ? It looks good to me. May be it needs more details or I missed something.. I think the last paragraph needs more detailed format..to give us better understanding. – PK2016 Jan 8 '16 at 20:42
  • @PK2016, the options seems to work fine. Audience is limited so far, but one concern is when it scales people might change language and land up unfamiliar language and not know what to do. Also, what I am doing does not seem standard practice, a lot of sites seem to direct users to a different domain. Additionally, for my site same button is used to set the language you write or read in. Is this something which is going to confuse users? – V_C Jan 10 '16 at 6:53
  • I've always been a fan of the fairly simple 'little dropbox full of flags' in the top-right hand corner of the site, with the country/language name being optional. g2a.com has a nice example of this; they let you change both language and currency. – Logan Jun 8 '16 at 13:34
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En - Hi - Be (change abbreviation for Hindi and Bengali in their language, although ideally show complete language labels in their language if you have the space)

You can add flags but the language in words/abbreviation is better. Check: What's a good alternative to flags for depicting internationalisation as an option?

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The problem with a button that says "Change Language" is that if it is in an unfamiliar language, the user might not understand it!

However one technique I have seen used which avoids that problem is to display a country flag to indicate the current language.

For a language which is used in multiple countries, it is fairly common to show multiple flags spliced together:

Spliced USA/UK flag

I actually think the text is optional. You could give the flag a tooltip that says "भाषा बदलो (Change Language)" when the site is in Hindi mode.

When the flag is clicked, it can let the user select a different language, by presenting a list of languages in their own native wording, along with country flags to assist.

List of languages with flags

It looks like there are two flags available to suggest the Hindi and Bengali languages.

And for a user who has already used the tool to change language, being able to find it in the same place is almost as important as what it says and how it looks.

Given that your language selector doesn't only change the site copy (expected) but also the posts which are displayed (unexpected), it may be worth explicitly stating this at the bottom of the language selector.

You will only see posts in the selected language.

But a clearer way to remind the user that their results are filtered would be to place explicit text above the list of posts:

Viewing 1-10 most recent posts in Hindi (change)

... post 1 ...

... post 2 ...

I will leave you with a final question:

  • Is it possible that some users might want to browse the site with Hindi copy, but actually read posts written in English and Bengali?
  • Thank you. These are very useful. To your question, that is highly unlikely, the current audience skews to college/school goers and they prefer english anyways. A scaled audience is likely to speak English or just use the local language completely and not have the site in Hindi and read English content considering the content in the specific language will require higher level of comprehension than the copy itself so comfort in language will be needed. – V_C Jan 10 '16 at 7:03
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As it was already said: help people who are unfamiliar with current language. Don't be afraid to show some bit of letters in other language. Imagine someone DON'T READ English. How can they switch to their comfort language? No way — everything is written in alien language right now (for English natives: just switch to Hindi and feel it too).

This is a reason why flags are used so often — they are easy recognizable. But flags can be bad for some other reasons (usually political).

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