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We are building an application that allows a user/owner to create forms and get input from anonymous users (eg:- Customer satisfaction surveys) . And we recently introduced a feature that allows the user/owner to provide the translation of the Form he created.

Now the Dilemma is should we display the language selection before the form that the anonymous users (The ones that are going to answer the survey) views or Should it be present in the answering form itself so that the user could easily switch languages any time.

Things to consider

  1. The forms will be distributed through emails and also will be answerable through Kiosk screens
  2. The system will be implemented in a country where the majority's primary language for communication is not English.
  3. The applications user interface has the primary language as English and Secondary as the local language.
  4. Any user may or may not answer the forms everyday (Eg:- A Mall Kiosk).
  5. From the technical aspect there is nothing that prevents us from switching the language in the form.
  6. The system supports 150+ languages.
  7. It is okay to submit text in any language.
  8. If you switch language at the form,The form will reload and the data will be lost.

The First approach

Lead the user to this page First Page

And redirect to the Form after language selection Second screen (The Form)

Second Approach The user will be directed to this page and can switch languages any time Page with language switch

Relevant arguments came up for First approach

  1. We cannot dictate a user to take the survey in English by default in a non English speaking country.
  2. Many of the language selection is done this way (Operating system start-up screens, Installation screens, In call voice interfaces etc.

Relevant arguments came up for Second approach

  1. The first approach adds one more screen for the User to fill up.

  2. The user can switch the language if he mistakenly selected a language.

So which one I should go for in terms of ease of use for the customer?

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EDIT: I just noticed that you edited the question and said that the data will not be transferred if the user switches the language after having started with the survey. So the below answer is only relevant if this can be fixed/changed.

If it can’t be fixed, you should definitely not go with approach 2 (as this could lead to data loss). So approach 1 it is, and you should not offer to switch the language after that interstitial page.

(The last paragraph of the old answer still applies: it would be better to use links instead of a select list.)


I’m assuming "can switch languages any time" means that the entered data will be transferred, so no data is lost when users switch the language after having started with the survey. (And in case text inputs exist, that it’s fine to submit text in different languages.)

I think there is no reason not to display the language switcher even if you go with the first approach. So the question should be: Should I add an interstitial language selection page?

I think there are two primary cases when using such an interstitial makes sense:

  • It’s (technically) not possible to allow language switching after the process started.
  • It’s important that users can’t possibly miss that the content is available in multiple languages.

The first case doesn’t seem to be relevant to you (otherwise your second approach wouldn’t be possible). The second case is relevant if visitors miss the language switcher and leave the page because they can’t understand the selected language.

But you can do something about this: Display the language switcher more prominent.

  • Place the language switcher in the reading flow. The focus is on the left (where you display the heading and the first question), so it’s easy to miss that there’s a language switcher to the right.

  • If the survey is translated only into a few languages, display the languages as links next to each other, instead of "burying" them in a select list.

  • If you have too many languages for that, go with a select list, but also make it look like a select list. The current design doesn’t suggest that users can interact with it.

  • (And if you even have too many languages for a select list, go with a link that opens a modal, which allows you to group the languages somehow, offer a filter search, etc.)

So if you can make it more obvious that there’s a language switcher, I think there is no reason to have an interstitial language selection page.


If you decide to have this interstitial page, consider displaying the languages as links, instead of hiding them in a select list. The whole purpose of this page is selecting a language, so there is no reason to save space. And users that don’t speak English don’t have to wonder what "Choose your Language" means and if it would be worth it to click it.

  • Thank you,So from your answer a suitable solution would be to add a Modal on the form-load (So that user will not miss the language selection) and giving a link for the user to pop that Modal anytime inside the form itself? What do you think about that approach. – insomniac Sep 14 '16 at 17:01
  • @insomniac: I just noticed that you edited your question and said that the data will not be transferred if the user switches the language after having started with the survey. If that’s true, and unless you can fix it, you should definitely not go with approach 2 (as this could lead to data loss). -- So approach 1 it is, and you should not offer to switch the language after that. – unor Sep 14 '16 at 17:16
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    Thank you for the explanation on the solution, I think I will go with approach 1 with links instead of dropdown – insomniac Sep 14 '16 at 20:36
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We have done apps where we faced this problem, and our approach is as simple as this: since the user will need to interact with the app from the very beginning, we add the language selection in the splash screen, then the whole app will be in the selected language.

Additionally, since the splash screen is where the user has to login and it would be very cumbersome to log off just to switch languages, you can change language in settings. But be aware this is an ADDITIONAL feature, not standalone, the important part is the splash

After many apps and many tests, I can confirm this approach works really well: 0 friction whatsoever, fast interaction, complete undertsanding

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Since you are going on kiosk, the language selection should be first, and animate between other languages to show the kiosk can be used in other languages.

Then in the form I would go with your approach of having a language selector at the top.

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