Toggling between Spanish and English: an Online Hispanic Best Practice

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“Toggle” is functionality deployed on a Website that allows a user to seamlessly change the language of a given page from English to Spanish and vice versa.  Leveraging toggle is a best practice in Hispanic online marketing.  Toggle functionality is typically executed by providing an “in English” button or link on a given Spanish-language page and an “en español” link or button on a given English-language page. It works best when the English and Spanish pages have similar content.

Why is toggle important for online Hispanics?

Bidirectional toggle functionality is considered a Hispanic online best practice principle for several key reasons. First, online Hispanics use both English and Spanish when accessing the Internet. Toggle provides Hispanic users with flexibility and choice; they can quickly select in which language they want to interact with a given page on your sites.

Second, toggle functionality is a great way for Spanish-dominant online Hispanics to learn English. Toggle allows Hispanic users to go back and forth between similar English and Spanish content, making it easy for them to learn English as well as to compare the content offered in each language. In addition, many Hispanic families surf the Internet together, and individual family members may have different language preferences. Toggle effectively addresses what is at times referred to as family bilingualism. It is common for Hispanic youth, who tend to prefer English, to help their Spanish-dominant parents with online research and activities. Finally, the English and Spanish versions of Websites that feature language toggle functionality tend to be very comparable.

Challenges and opportunities of toggle functionality

Although toggle functionality offers many benefits for online Hispanics, building and maintaining a Website with toggle also represents some significant challenges. Most important, the English and Spanish versions of a site should have similar content as well as information architecture and visual design. When developing a Website with toggle functionality, it is important to develop a user experience that addresses the needs of all online Hispanics, regardless of their language preference. From a content perspective, copy will have to be produced in both English and Spanish. As a result, it is critical to not only allocate budgets and resources accordingly, but also to choose in which language content will originally be written and into which language it will be translated or “transcreated.”

In terms of Website maintenance, consider that the English and Spanish versions of the sites must be updated simultaneously. As such, it is critical to develop a comprehensive maintenance strategy to keep the two versions of the site in sync.

Implementing toggle functionality does provide you with many organizational benefits as well. Many online Hispanics search in English and may access your English Website through an interior page. By providing page-level language options, Hispanics will have an alternate point of access to your Spanish-language site. In addition, bidirectional toggle functionality enables you to track the online behavior of Hispanics and assess how they access the different language versions of your site as well as track interest in particular content by language.

Want to see toggle functionality in action? The following Websites have employed the best-practice principle of toggle for the U.S. Hispanic online market:

Allstate: http://www.miallstate.com

GobiernoUSA.gov: http://www.GobiernoUSA.gov

HSBC USA: http://www.hsbcusa.com

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): http://www.hud.gov

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