• Sridhar Rajendran

What to do when Facebook looks like gibberish?

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Problems due to auto language translation

I faced a weird issue when I used Facebook while travelling in my hometown. The login page opened up in the regional language. While I can understand Tamil, I have difficulty reading it 😊. My first instinct was to use Google’s auto translate. Once I logged in, the content was in English as it was the default language in my Profile settings. But it got me thinking what other usability issues can this cause?

When I turned to my dear friend Google, apparently many faced this issue.

After reading some of the posts, I realised there is an option to change the language settings of FB’s homepage. It was there at the bottom, way below the fold.

I do not understand the rationale why Facebook designers chose to do this.

There are two functions of the Facebook homepage

  • Log-in to an exisitng account

  • Create a new account

If you already have an account and the default language is set, then the problem is only a minor hindrance. If you use Chrome browser, the translate option should work (mostly). Even other wise, mental model should enable users to click the blue button at the top right corner and login.

It becomes frustrating when you are trying to sign up. Users are already panicked because it looks like their computer has been hacked. To make things worse, Google translate does not work. Not many would be inclined to scroll down and figure out the option to change the language.

How might we enable users to change the language options in Facebook homepage?

One suggestion would be to place the change language option in the header. This is a common practise and a lot of websites already do it.

I have faced a similar issue even while using Google Maps on my phone. I have seen instructions come up in Hindi, Kannada and even hieroglyphics at one point. To this date I do not know how to change it. I guess Google figured I do not understand the language when I took too many wrong turns. 😎