Stepping Through Design

Today as I browsed the net I came upon a website which has an opening page that asks you to select the language which you would like to view the website in.

The drop down menu offered English as an option as well as several other languages. Upon selecting English, however, the site then displayed a pop-up window advising me that the site is only available in French, although other languages will be coming soon.

While it is no problem that the site is not available in English, this drop down box should not be the first thing a person sees when visiting the site until the site is prepared to deliver on the user’s selection.  It seems like a classic example of development being executed without consideration for how the system will actually work for the target user.

Part of solid product design is to step through the use of the product as if you were not the designer, but the intended user.  From a design perspective it might make sense to design this drop down box first, it certainly would be easier to create than re-creating the entire site in English.  However, at this point the drop down box does not help the user at all.  The site would be greatly improved if the pop-up window gave me an estimated date to check back for the English version of the site.

Nevertheless, until the English site is actually ready to use, perhaps this option ought to be hidden and instead, the French version of the page could have a large advertisement mentioning that other languages are coming soon.