When designing a website, users generally prefer it when everything “just works.” Unfortunately, when it comes to translation, trying to guess their needs can backfire if you don’t guess correctly.
That’s a lesson that Web behemoth Google is learning the hard way. Google just unveiled its new Android Market website last week, hoping to entice customers with Android phones to purchase more apps with an improved shopping experience.
As part of that improved shopping experience, the company designed the website to analyze each computer’s IP address, figure out what country it’s in, and set the language accordingly. When this feature works, it’s a nice bonus because you don’t even have to think about switching languages. But if you’re traveling or you don’t speak the regional language, the website is difficult to use because Google didn’t include an option to easily switch between languages. According to CNN.com, this incomprehensible omission is aggravating would-be Android Market customers. One user, quoted in a forum, explained “I am traveling, and I want things in English, but I get Dutch instead. It’s awful.”
Oops! Hopefully, they’ll take this sage advice from one of their frustrated users, quoted on CNN.com:
“Many sites these days try to be smart and automatically change their language without giving you the option to change it back. There should always be the option to change it, clearly labeled on the site.”
Until then, there’s a fix: add “?hl=en” to the end of the Android Market web address for English. For other languages, change the “en” to the appropriate initials. So, for example, the web address for the French version of the site would be “https://market.android.com/?hl=fr”
A drop-down menu would be so much easier…