It’s been awhile since I’ve written about global gateways — those landing pages and header elements that companies use to direct visitors to localized web sites.
I came across one that I’ve been meaning to write about for some time — it’s the home page of a promotion Hyatt Hotels ran several months ago.
The site is still live here.
It’s a visually engaging global gateway and I love the many translations of “welcome” in the center of the page. Unfortunately, this gateway demonstrates three practices companies should avoid repeating. I’ll call them rules.
Rule #1: Global gateways should place function above beauty
I’ve got nothing against a great-looking web page. But job number one is getting users to where they want to go, and quickly. In the case of Hyatt, all those “welcome” languages are engaging, but they’re not clickable, something I learned when I tried clicking on “Bienvenido” and then “Benvenuti.” They’re just design elements.
The only clickable links on the entire page are at the very top and the very bottom of the page, which leads me to the next rule.
Rule #2: To paraphrase Steve Krug, don’t make users think about what language or country they need to select
The global gateway should require no thought whatsoever. But let’s say I speak German and I land on this page. I could click the “Europe” link at the bottom of the page or I could click the “Deutsch” link at the top of the page. Which do I choose? The very fact that I have to think about it means the design is flawed.
What’s interesting here is that if you select “Europe” a list of available languages will appear below it. Why not just have those languages there all along? Perhaps that would have helped. I think so. But the fact that there are two selections that the user must decide between is inherently bad design.
Rule #3: Don’t pretend you speak languages that you don’t
What’s really unfortunate about Hyatt’s gateway is that some of the “welcome” languages are not supported by localized web pages — such Greek and Slovenian. This could give visitors the impression you support their language when you really don’t. Not a great idea. Managing user expectations is critical, particularly when it comes to localized content.
Fortunately, the Hyatt gateway was temporary.
What do you think? Was I being too hard on the site? And are there any rules you would add?