Ensure content for multilingual & LEP audiences is culturally-relevant, not just a word for word translation of the content developed for English speakers. This is particularly important for certain types of information, such as health-related information, but should be considered early on in the process of understanding audiences and developing websites, not after the site has been fully developed in English.
Content in other languages
What can we do to improve how global audiences and people with limited English proficiency access federal websites?
Providing federal websites in foreign languages is important, but the process is difficult, costly and requires specialized technology and resources. The government should create a centralized localization team that would manage all aspects of localization. From determining what content to localize, what languages to use to actually localizing content. This team would be responsible for sourcing the appropriate technology... more »
Test multilingual content / design with representative users to ensure usability and understand audience needs.
This does not solve all problems with translation, accessibilty and fairness, but it does fill a huge gap in a simple and cheap way. All it requires are some minor includes, etc.
If content in other languages is provided, ensure that users can search in those languages, with accents and without, and that search results are presented in that language.
In sites with such a wide target audience, it is important to address varying degrees of computer literacy as a form of localization.
There are varying degrees of computer literacy within each cultural user group. The implications of this need to be identified during a robust discovery process and central to the generation of the sites' interaction design.
In some cases the percentage of people who will use a language other than English on websites is lower than we might expect, even among bilingual and multilingual speakers who might speak some other language at home. By studying user needs a priori, the government can determine what content is most needed in each language for the intended audience, and can decide only to implement websites for the content that will be... more »
Ensure that once a person has selected which language they want to interact in, the user experience consistently provides content in that language. This is especially important for those who have very limited English proficiency or no English skills. For instance, in a government website if the user has selected Spanish, make sure all content links go to Spanish pages, rather than going back unexpectedly to English... more »
When creating web content in other languages, ensure a consistent language transition from and to other media and communication channels as well. For instance, if a language-specific website provides telephone numbers to call, make sure they clearly state how to reach phone service in the language of their choice, and have the phone experience provide a consistent language interaction as well. If a media campaign is... more »
In those cases where web content is translated, be sure that the translation is of a high quality to be culturally appropriate and understandable to a broad audience of speakers of various dialects and from various national backgrounds. Poor quality translations result in users avoiding using a website at all or if they are bilingual they may switch to English even if they would have preferred the other language. When... more »
When developing bilingual and multilingual sites, consider internationalization issues early on in the design process, because space required for other languages varies!
Access should also be in-language, e.g., If you're providing access to content in Spanish, it should say "en español"
Access is usually provided in the upper right hand corner, but wherever it goes, it should be easily found.
And don't use flags!
The Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin population is growing rapidly in the US and language/origin data is useful for web designers for multilingual sites. And yet the most recent visual maps put out by the US Census Bureau for Hispanic Population and Spansh speakers in the US use data from years ago. For instance, the latest Spanish speakers map I have found is from the 2000 Census. Updating language and ethnicity maps... more »
If you're linking to pages in English (internal or external) from content in another language, notify the users that this is the case using the in-language equivalent of (in English) or some other sort of visual notification.
This is particularly important for less-savvy users who may get lost in the process.
In some situations having the same content on a single page in multiple languages is useful. The classic example is a screen full of "Welcome" words in many languages. But other situations exist, especially for cases where the target audience includes bilingual speakers. For instance, although mixtures of English and Spanish, often referred to as "Spanglish" are sometimes frowned upon, it is very natural for many bilingual... more »