Séché environnement : Leaking language

A home page is poorly prepared for an upsurge in international visitors.

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The feature

Séché environnement, France-based waste recovery and treatment group, has difficulties with the linguistic purity of signposts on its international site.

Séché’s group website is presented in French- and English-language versions, with a simple toggle button allowing visitors to switch between them. On the English version’s home page there are several navigational elements that remain wholly or mostly as presented on the French site. For example, a panel for the CSR (corporate social responsibility) report has the English link ‘read more’ but is otherwise in French and launches the report in French; the sub-section menu in the rich footer under the category Our Jobs uses the French list, though the links open the English-language pages. The lead item under Our Recovery Solutions, Services d’intervention chimiste, is similarly configured, although in the main dropdown navigation it is translated, as ‘Chemical treatment services’.

In addition, a list of 10 quick links running above the rich footer is in French, although all launch English-language pages; one,Développement durable, has the suffix ‘en’ to indicate this. Tailored sets of such links are a feature within the site but generally open pages in French.

The takeaway

Séché’s group site should be welcoming more international visitors this month if it is reaping any benefit from the group’s sponsorship of a team in the three-week Tour de France bicycle race, which itself attracts a massive worldwide audience. Sadly, some of those who do arrive on the site’s de facto international (English-language) version will be disoriented, confused or driven away as a result of the seepage it suffers from the French version. Equally unfortunately, this is experienced in different ways: mixed languages in the same signpost (the CSR report banner and rich footer), for example, or the inconsistent use of the ‘en’ suffix, which is likely to lead visitors to overlook content if they assume unmarked French-language links are for content in French.

A more consistent use of translation and indicators of its limits rather than more translation per se would go a long way to improving the experience for international visitors. None of the difficulties is beyond resolving with simple maintenance, starting with a basic audit of links on the English-language site to identify the extent of the clean up needed.

First published 22 July, 2014
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