One of the most critical user interface issues that is frequently overlooked has to do with the language used on a site. Ideally, you should produce your website to accommodate all who can benefit from it. This usually means that the content may be of interest to Internet users from different countries who most likely speak a variety of different languages.
If you are interested in having your website used and understood by as many people as possible, usually you must display your site in more than one language. Even though there are about 7,000 living languages in the world (http://www.ethnologue.com/statistics), your user interface needs only to accommodate a much smaller number. The three most common spoken languages are Mandarin Chinese (845 million speakers), English (600 million – counting those who speak English as a second or third language,) and Spanish (325 million). These three languages account for 60% of all Internet users. (http://www.numberof.net/number-of-languages-in-the-world/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_used_on_the_Internet)
The Ten Top Languages Spoken by Internet Users
As a web developer, no matter what language(s) you speak, it is probably a good idea to publish your website or web app in English. English is widely used as a second language in many countries, and is the leading language of international communication. Also, English is the language most often taught as a ‘foreign language’ in countries where English is not the native language. The following image shows the ten most popular content languages, with English being used on over half of the sites.
The Top Ten Languages Used on Websites
It is estimated that non-native English speakers throughout the world outnumber native English speakers by a ratio of at least 3 to 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_language). For this reason, when you do use English in your site, you should to keep your English word selection (readability level) as simple as possible. In other words, try to use the most common English words, which also tends to be the words requiring the fewest letters. This keeps the calculated readability level low, which helps to make the site’s content easier to read for all users. Also, using common, simpler words allows the use of software tools that automatically can translate a site, such as Google Translator.