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Using a website switch: Why leave the choice to the user?

Principles
2 minutes
There are significant benefits to using a website switch selector and leaving the choice to the user, we have put a list of reasons why.

When it comes to catering to multiple regions and languages, there are two options available to e-commerce businesses. One option is geo redirection, where users are automatically redirected based on their IP address to a different version of the website. The other option is a website switch that allows visitors to choose a version of the website in the language or region they are most comfortable with. The difference between the two options is that geo redirection automatically redirects the user to a certain language/region while a country selector lets users choose a region. In many instances, it’s better to let the user choose their own region, rather than automatically redirecting them.

Reasons to use a website switch over geo redirection

Better user experience

While there is no denying the convenience and efficiency that comes with geo redirection, giving users the choice to select their own region or language leads to better user experience. Users value choice in general and giving people the option to choose the region or language they are most familiar with improves the user experience, by a significant margin. 

Avoid misunderstanding the user

Businesses have detailed profiles on their customers, but that doesn’t mean they understand every single one of their visitor’s backgrounds. For example, a visitor with a Japanese IP address might not be a Japanese resident or even fluent in Japanese, but instead, a tourist or a businessman visiting the website. In such cases, geo redirection might be troublesome because the user is not familiar with Japanese, even if their IP address corresponds to that location. However, with a country switch plugin, businesses can avoid such misunderstandings because users can choose the language they are most comfortable with.

Visitors might be using VPN

Geo redirection helps target visitors to the most relevant region based on the IP address, but what if the IP address was disguised with a VPN? In 2020, there are over 4 billion internet users with a VPN, a 7% increase from last year, and this number is sure to go up in the future. Most people use virtual private networks specifically to bypass geo-blocking and access content they otherwise cannot access. This presents a problem to businesses because they cannot get an accurate representation of their customer base as geoblocking has been effectively bypassed. Since users are already using a VPN to bypass geoblocking, using a country selector makes the business seem less restrictive and more friendly to visitors from different regions.

What do businesses need to be aware of when using a website switch plugin?

SEO for multiple languages

A website switch comes with many benefits. However, there are some precautions businesses need to be aware of when implementing the country selector menu. If businesses choose to implement a country selector plugin that redirects visitors to a region-specific website, then businesses have to invest in SEO for multiple languages and regions. SEO work is not necessarily extensive, but it requires a clear strategy because SEO needs users to pay attention to design and content, which means a lot of planning is needed.

Region and languages don't necessarily correspond

The composition of nations and languages do not always align. There are instances where one nation speaks several languages (China), people from a single region speak the same language (Latin America) and people in different regions speak different variants of the same language (British English versus American English). The disparity between languages and regions can make a country selector option complicated because businesses have to account for the nuances in languages and regions. Failure to account for these differences can be counterproductive in engaging users because visitors don’t see the language they use or the region they are from, they will simply leave the website. Businesses have to account for regions and languages when choosing a selector.

Leaving the choice to the user

There are significant benefits to using a website switch selector and leaving the choice to the user. It’s much more convenient than automatically redirecting the user based on an IP address and giving them a version of the website that may or may not resonate with them. Under such circumstances, visitors will simply leave the website, which increases the bounce rate in the long run. 

Leaving the choice to the user makes it more convenient than simply redirecting them, which makes a website switch a superior choice rather than automatically redirecting users. After all, placing options in the hands of users is one of the most effective ways of ensuring the highest levels of user and visitor experience on just about any platform.

Jackie Buckridge
12th February 2020

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