ROGE blog

How to change a website’s language to have international concern ?

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With Rogeblog, we wanted to give our article a translation in the English language to have an international concern.
Even if it does exists languages that are spoken a lot such as Mandarin, Spanish or Arabic, English is still the universal language today.

With a WordPress plugin, we have been able to do a direct redirection depending on the visitor’s location.

For French: rogeblog.com/fr
For English: rogeblog.com/en

If the user decides to block the access to his location, how can we make him understand that there is content in another language?

Furthermore, if a French visitor is travelling in an English talking country, how can we give him the possibility to see the website in French?

When someone arrives on Rogeblog, he is led on the French or English page depending on the preferences of his navigator.
The first idea was to add two flags: the French one and the British Union Jack, so he could click on the one he wants.

But what could think our friends from Belgium, Switzerland, Canada or the United States if we put a flag which is not theirs?

To find solutions, we checked on internationally known websites. No need to present Facebook, the World first social network, which regroups more than a billion of people… Today, Facebook is available in almost every languages, so it is important to pick the one the user is the most comfortable with. In Facebook setups, there is a tab « language » which allows the user to choose the website interface. There is also the possibility to setup more languages if you want.

language

On Twitter, it is exactly the same thing. People just have to go in the setups and pick a languages from those which are the most spoken in the world. However, Twitter proposes a service where the community can offer its services to translate some languages. As a consequence, people can decide to directly contribute to the whole social network.

language

Facebook is the number one of the social network in 128 countries (implanted in 137), then it proposes an important list of languages so it can touch as much people as possible. It also exists the language « leet speak » which is a writing system using alphabet in a different way. It gives those users an other way of understanding.

Wikipedia, the biggest free encyclopedia, proposes on a page the 10 languages that most articles are based on. Then, a list of the different languages where the encyclopedia is available is added with a search bar. With a key word, such a an artist’s name, it is possible to find the page in every languages.

language

How is one able to deal with that many languages?

If a French wants to use a website in English, and if the exemple of Facebook is taken, there are 4 lines offering languages and their own specifies. How can people pick the one which is the most adapted to them? After all, French people are taught British English in school, but would they be able to understand the shades of the American English?

Apple’s website solves the problem differently. It is not about choosing a language, but a country. Every country is positioned one after the other and all of them are regrouped by continent (even though African and Asian contents are regrouped together). The idea of choosing a country is more appropriate for companies because it sells its products depending on each local legislations, prices, taxes etc. Thus, if the company is not implanted or available in one country, it will not propose its website in the country’s language.
However, for some countries such as Belgium, where there are 3 officials languages (French, German and Dutch), Apple has decided to limit the access to the most spoken languages because they regroup 97% of the population. To summary, some websites use a list with all the languages available in a country, or they use a classification with countries’ territory.

language

It does exist a simpler solution for the user. Indeed, the community UXFrance [Facebook d’UXFrance] told me that any can set up its own language preferences in the navigator.
Thus, if the navigator is in already in English, the user would arrive directly on rogeblog.com/en/ … which is easier for him.

Does it exist a graphic solution for the choice of a language no matter the preference?

There are some website that propose a flag cut in half to solve the problem. But is that really the solution? Is it right to cut a flag, emblem of a nation?

According to UXFrance « for a blog, it is possible to propose a « translate into » with a button or a phrase located at the top of each article before one starts reading. »

Then, there is the choice of the article published directly with its preferential language, and another one proposed by the blog.

How does Rogeblog works?

The WordPress plugin that we use is named « Polylang ». When we publish an article written in French, we have the possibility to come back on it to translate it.
The plugin also adds a translation for our biographies in the setups of the users accounts. Also, it gives the possibility the translate some parts of the blog such as « leave a comment » or « be the first to comment » in English.

polylang language

Conclusion

A flag represents a territory, but not a language. For news website, blog, or websites selling products that offer their services in different languages, it is recommended to use the different languages available in the navigator of the user. So, the users do not have to think about it. If they have set this navigator in English, they will see the content of the website in English. Nonetheless, it is possible to give the user the possibility to choose by himself. So, it is necessary to create a textual zone to show that an article exists in a different languages.
For example, on Rogeblog, we decided to put a sentence at the top right of the website « you can read this blog in English / French ». We think about writing a sentence for each article’s beginning, so the user could switch between French and English.
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Antoine Roché

Born during the 90’s, I have grown up surrounded by music. Student in music production, guitar player and amateur of vintage sound, I want to share with my articles my passion for this universe full of notes, feelings and warmth. If Blues, Rock’N’Roll and Hip Hop are my favorites, I keep being curious about various current trends.

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