There are many ways in which you can display the languages that your website is available in and the countries the content is intended for. But which way is best?
Some sites present their language and country selectors as a dropdown menu. Some use flags. Others display a popup or modal window when the user first visits and set the default country and language as a cookie – redirecting the user to the relevant section or site automatically on future visits. Some sites simply redirect users without them specifying their country or language preferences. Each of these methods has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The reality is that there are no right or wrong ways of displaying language and country selectors. It all depends on the target territory and language. Forcing users into a section of your site based on their country could be fine in many cases but could also be a big mistake for some regions and audiences. Examples of these include countries that have many different official languages or large expat communities from other countries that don’t speak the official language but would still like to see content that’s relevant for their territory and prices displayed in local currencies.
Displaying flags may be bad practice in other situations. For example, there are a number of regions around the world where their statuses as sovereign states are disputed and displaying these can be highly political and potentially alienate consumers. Similarly, geo-location identification based on IP address is not an exact science so site owners could be unwittingly locking users out of their preferred country and language.