Bienvenido: Using language negotiation to support bilingual US websites


During my work for the Web Globalization Report Card I encountered a number of US-focused websites relying on language negotiation (also known as language detection) to make their Spanish-language websites impossible to ignore.

Shown above is the overlay used on the T-Mobile website.

And below is the Ford website overlay:

Bienvenido: Ford home page overlay

What language negotiation does is look at the language setting of the web user’s browser. If Spanish is detected as the preference, the website displays an overlay that asks the user to confirm his or her language preference.

Language negotiation is far from a perfect technology so it’s best to ask users to confirm their setting.

The overlay provides a nice tool for making Spanish content discoverable while also allowing users to stay in control of what language they prefer to use. It’s fair to say that many US-based web users may have web browsers set to Spanish but may prefer to see the English-language websites. The fact is, unfortunately, many companies don’t fully translate all English content into the target language — and people know this.

If you do implement this approach for your website, it’s vital that you provide a visual global gateway in the header so users can easily change settings at any time.

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