The common practice for representing language selector on websites is to use country flags. Unfortunately, it’s not a good way of doing so in terms of UX.
I know it is tempting to go with the crowd and just throw icon flags on your website and be done with it. Like most of us, at some point, I used to do that too. But a little research shows that it’s a bad way of presenting users the possibility to change the language. Let’s find a better approach and use it from now on.
Best practices for presenting languages
- Use the native language names
- Try to detect the user’s language and show the appropriate content
- Display the language selector in a clear way, e.g. with a globe icon in the footer, in the header, or in the main navigation
- Use flags only if the content is specific to the country
- Remember about HTML
Tell Google and other search engines about localized versions of your page:
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="lang_code" href="url_of_page" />
- If you want to know more on the subject, I recommend Flags are not languages blog as a great resource about designing global UX (1, 2, 3, and more).
- To learn more about HTML tags check the Google documentation.
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