Proposed Update to for International Users

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After reviewing the suggestions posted to on improving international user access to, the marketing and sysadmin team at Mozilla met today to assess these options, and make a recommendation on how to achieve the objective of this project.

The objective of these changes, in the short-term, is to address a use case where a non-English speaking visitor comes to We want to enable these types of visitors to more easily get to a localized Mozilla web site than is currently possible from the following three places:

1. The homepage at

2. The Firefox main product page at

3. The Thunderbird main product page at

The solution we are proposing is to add a dropdown menu to the footer area of these 3 web pages, that allows a visitor to select their language, from a list that matches the currently available set of localized Mozilla Web sites.

When the visitor has selected a language, he or she will be sent to the localized Mozilla web site that supports this language choice.

If the visitor has made the language selection on the homepage for, they will be sent to the homepage for the localized Mozilla web site in their language. Language selections made on the Firefox main page at will send the visitor to the localized Firefox main page of their choice. The same logic would follow for the Thunderbird main page.

Here is a screenshot of how the change might look:

-Easiest solution to implement given resources available.

-Preserves user choice over which language version of Mozilla web site they are viewing (vs. redirecting automatically based on accept-language headers).

-Pull down menu rather than full listing of language codes (as done on Mozilla Europe sites) preserves visual presentation and branding of pages.

-Achieves objective of providing easier access to localized Mozilla web sites and product downloads.

-A short term solution.

-Requires user to figure out behavior of the pull-down menu, and it will be difficult to communicate what the menu is for in a way that is understandable by non-English speakers.

-Only applies to 3 main content pages on Users may be entering through some other entry page.

The ideal solution would be to create a language specific set of pages for each locale we currently support. So for example, for the homepage of, we would have index-en.html, index-de.html, and so on. We would then let Apache decide which language version of the homepage is served to the visitor based on the visitor's accept-language headers. When we reviewed this option, we quickly realized that given our current international web site structure, this would mean adding more work for the l10n volunteers, who would then have to help translate both the main pages for the international Mozilla Web sites, *and* this additional set of localized home and product pages for

We also considered automatically redirecting users who were trying to visit or based on accept-language headers to a localized Mozilla Web site. However we ultimately decided not to go this route either. The main concern is that we did not want to presume we knew the user's intent in trying to access Implementing an automatic redirect might end up frustrating some international users who had actually wanted to visit the US English Web site.

We welcome your feedback on this proposed solution. We'll take comments until next Friday, January 13.


  • I find that the drop-down approach, in addition to the mentioned usability cons, has the problem of looking a little heavy (and requiring a "go" button). Instead, I'd suggest that we have the text "Other languages" appear in line with "About Us", "Privacy Policy", and "Legal Notices". That should link off to a page ( which could list the various international languages in which the pages are available, and link off to them. We could even be slick and do it sort of like how the BBC does with a map and everything. Beltzner 14:37, 13 Jan 2006 (PST)