Why do we see websites in a language that we didn't choose?

Why do we see websites in a language that we didn't choose?

It happens pretty often when you live abroad, especially when you don't speak the local language

Imagine: You are living in the country you were born, speaking the language you grew up with when, for unforeseen reasons, you start living in another place which has a language you barely understand. That means you will need to make some changes in your life, which include updating online profiles.

Every profile that you need to update normally should have 2 fields: Country (or Region) and Language. That means you will change your country to, let’s say, Czech Republic, while still being able to access the website in your native language (English, for example).

Czechia, English (United States)

But sometimes that’s not enough.

Many companies struggle with translation. And I am not talking about small companies. I am talking about big companies that still don’t seem to know what language I speak despite I specifically mark “English (United States)” everywhere. I am talking every single company that doesn’t seem to care about their customers when they provide a subpar language change service.

That is different than being redirect to a local online store, which is something I understand and even agree.

Microsoft Store redirect

Online stores like the Xbox Live will redirect me the country I am living in because of specific commercial rules, currency, taxes, etc. What I don’t agree is that I need to understand the local language only because of that. I don’t know if they can be sued because of that but I am not a lawyer and I am lazy to check. 🙃

Friday The 13th in Czech

I've seen this many times since I moved to Europe, including:

  • Microsoft sending me e-mails in English, Portuguese and Czech; Also redirecting me to Czech or Portuguese language websites
  • Google sending me e-mails in English and Czech; Sometimes redirecting me to websites in Portuguese
  • EA, more recently, sent me a confirmation e-mail in Czech with the date in Portuguese (!!!)

I believe there are some reasons for this to happen. For example:

  • They have many systems which are not fully interconnected
  • Some systems got updates and “decided” to ignore the language field
  • Systems simply assume that you speak the language of the country you live in
  • The company didn’t get the full translation for that language (mostly when a product enters a new market)

If you came here for a solution, I have some recommendations that may work for you:

  • Look for and try to change the language in every website you can find in that company
  • Switch the country back to your home country, unless this will affect you somehow
  • Call their customer service and file a complaint

That’s it. Maybe the people working in these systems should spend some time abroad. Or maybe the testers should just try to switch the language to something they can’t understand, so they can see this problem.