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Location != Language July 16, 2008

Posted by CK in Design, Miscellaneous.
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Ok, so I admit: I’m living in Germany and don’t speak any German whatsoever. Now that this is out of the way, can we please sit down and re-think web site localization?

This last month I have been in the same situation time and again: I’m visiting the site of some big company which took the time to provide its content in many different languages, it asks me where I’m located, and then changes the language to German. Even worse, some don’t even ask you where you are located, but rather use geo-location services based on your IP and simply present the content in German, often without allowing you to change the language to something else. I have seldom found sites which ask where you are located AND what is your preferred language — typically it’s airline companies, which makes sense I guess.

The problem is that although I could, in principle, choose an English-speaking country such as US or UK, this usually means that I am automatically losing some of the site functionality, as many details are customized to the visitor’s country of origination (for example, local news).

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