Language Selector Best Practices (Flags or No Flags)

It is natural to want to use a flag icon for a language visual. However, using flags as icons to represent language is problematic because some languages are spoken in many countries.

This is something that occasionally comes up when talking to clients about Globalization/Localization planning. Here is a list of best practices based on research.

  1. Don’t use flags when the intent is to signal language.
  2. It’s ok to use flags to represent country/market but follow with the language. 
  3. Always use the name of the language in its local format.
  4. Have a consistent place for the language/market selector across the site (header, footer). 

Additional Articles for Reference 

http://flagsarenotlanguages.com/blog/why-flags-do-not-represent-language

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/flag-problems/

http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200604/indicating_language_choice_...

http://wplang.org/never-use-flags-language-selection/

https://www.thirdandgrove.com/should-you-use-flags-for-your-country-lang...

http://responsivenews.co.uk/post/123104512468/13-tips-for-making-respons...

 

Lauren Werner

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Best Practices
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