One of the many things I love about global gateways is that I never stop discovering new ones.
Here are notes on a few gateways I’ve stumbled across over the past few weeks.
Let’s begin with a gateway that exhibits a classic rookie mistake:
I’m sure you spotted it right away — flags should never be used to indicate language.
Companies that use flags in this manner tend to be companies that are just getting started with web localization. In some cases, these flags come packaged as widgets (usually combined with a Google Translate backend). I’ve come to believe that this is just one of these practices that companies have to grow out of. And most do, over time.
Guidewire’s gateway wisely does not use flags. And it is also perfectly positioned in the upper righthand corner of the web site.
But when you click on the pull-down menu, you see an inconsistently displayed list of languages.
Notice how French and German are in their native languages, but Japanese and Chinese are not.
I’ve noticed a number of global gateways in which the Asian scripts are not presented in their native scripts. Years ago, this was because the web team didn’t want to specify Unicode on the home page. Today, however, I view this largely as an oversight. Interestingly, the Guidewire China web site features a globe icon next to its gateway. Looking ahead, I’d love to see this icon added to the .com site as well.
Speaking of globe icons, I discovered this icon at the bottom of the Google Plus home page:
As for the menu itself, the languages are natively presented, which is always nice to see:
But pull-down menus are not all that pleasant to scroll through when they’re long, and this one is indeed quite long. Interestingly, Google already has an alternative to the pull-down menu in place on YouTube (here’s an excerpt from the language menu):
Instead of a pull-down menu, YouTube uses an overlay, which bypasses the scrolling issue. I’ve been told that Google is working hard to merge these disparate global gateways into a seamless and user-friendly whole. Perhaps we’ll see progress by the end of this year.
Translation agencies should be expected to provide user-friendly multilingual navigation. And while this approach by Locaria isn’t the most scalable, it’s visually engaging and, fun to toy with. I imagine it’s a great device for making potential clients aware of all the languages the company supports.
Have you encountered any must-see gateways lately? If so, let me know!