#rant #internet #design #ergonomics
This is the home page of +Instagram
. The website tries to automatically infer the language in which to serve its content and then shows translated version. The way it detects the user's locale is not based on IP, at least not exclusively, as different browsers display different translations. My guess is it checks the Accept-Language
HTTP header and acts upon it.
This could work were it done properly. However, in this case everything that could go wrong, went wrong:
1. The content is only partially translated. In my case - navigation items, the login button and the last paragraph (!) of the main text are in Polish. The rest stays in English.
2. There is no dedicated URL for the language version currently displayed. Even if the meaning of the content is the same, every translation should have its separate URL, like instagram.com/pl
. This would clearly indicate the language in which the page is served to the user. More importantly, it would provide a clear and easy way of switching the language by simply changing the last two letters in the address bar. Which brings me to the most crucial point.
3. There is no language switch anywhere on the page. Depending on the combination of system and browser settings, the Accept-Language
header sent by the browser will be different, with no clear way of modifying it. In practice it leaves the user with no reasonable method of changing the language version of the site. Especially if the user has no control over these settings which may happen on a shared machine. Consequently, there is no assurance a user will be able to read the website, since the translation she is presented with may be in a language she does not speak.
The problem permeates the rest of the website, including the API documentation, the blog and other sections.
I am sure what +Instagram
does is by all means an expression of good intentions. However, the way it is implemented, makes matters worse than if the service did not attempt to make its website multilingual at all. The purpose of multilingual websites is to increase accessibility, not hinder users' attempts to actually access the content they need.