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We're about to publish a free, open source plugin that translates the WordPress admin UI into the users language. This plugin will be freely available in the official wp.org plugin repository. Now we need a header (actually two: one for retina capable devices and one for normal displays) - in the size of 1544x500px/772x250px - that explains what the plugin does.

I agree that my first 10-minute draft is a bit racist (by accident). Actually 110% of all people told me that it's funny, but racist. So we have agreed that two things are no good idea:

  • Flags (too generic - every plugin uses this), as those don't communicate the specific use case
  • People with stereotype characteristics

This was my first draft (will not be taken).

enter image description here

This a screenshot from the plugin in action.

enter image description here

Note: The label is named WeCodeMore and has a Google Plus Account and a GitHub account where we post our updates to followers (in case you want to see the details).


As I've read in the comments, the question seems to not be completely clear. I'm aware of the fact that this question is half design, half user experience.

(Original Question) I'm searching for better ideas that communicate the idea of "User specific Interface (language)".

The above question can be extended with: "No user should have his first bad experience when looking at the banner".


I understand that some people suggest flags or alphabets. Currently we went with alphabet, but the question is still open.

Short explanation: "Flags" represent countries, which languages don't do. The same goes for "Alphabets" (or character sets). I, for example, am an Austrian citizen. My mother tongue is "German", but a variation of it (like "Letzeburgisch" in Luxembourg or "Swiss German" in Switzerland). If someone would tell me that a German flag represents my language, I'd be alienated, as Germany is not my country. Then there're minorities in every country, like Burgenland-Croatian, Romani, Hungarian, etc. And with character sets it's the same. Nearly every western language shares the same set.

enter image description here

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migrated from ux.stackexchange.com Jan 19 '13 at 14:40

This question came from our site for user experience researchers and experts.

Not sure what the question is here. Your first banner doesn't tell me what the plugin is about at a glance. The screenshot, however, communicates what the plugin does quite effectively -- why not incorporate that in some way? Aside, have a look at the banner ICanLocalize have on their webpage -- I think it would work great for your plugin. You can buy it from iStockPhoto searching "languages" if you want it. –  Brendon Jan 17 '13 at 19:42
The header is cute. However, I wonder if some people would find it offensive. –  Brian Jan 17 '13 at 19:50
@Brendon "I'm searching for better ideas that communicate the idea of "User specific Interface (language)"." So basically it's about "Iconic language" that communicates the idea better. –  kaiser Jan 17 '13 at 20:06
This is really a graphic design question and, even then, it's more of a brainstorming idea. That said, I'd think a little more abstract: globes, speech bubbles, type (foreign alphabets), etc. –  DA01 Jan 17 '13 at 20:07
Okay.. maybe it's me but I'm still a bit lost after reading this. So the question is "How can I portray a user language interface graphically?" That, to me, is idea gathering/brainstorming and subsequently off-topic. It's a banner... animate different languages. –  Scott Jan 19 '13 at 16:43

3 Answers 3

I'd recommend using both a world map or globe and possibly a few fragments of different languages, a bit like wikipedia.

I'm picturing a globe with three or four speech bubbles coming out in distinctly different looking scripts -- Chinese, Arabic, Afrikaans, etc.

This is something I used for a (defunct) project, feel free to steel the concept.

enter image description here

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So your question is essentially "help me brainstorm visual representations of the idea of lots of languages, in a way that is non-offensive and can be used in a banner image"?

If so the only possible "right" answer will be about how to go about getting ideas.

So first, how do you do background research on what already exists solving similar problems?

You stop thinking about apps and github and banners and anything other than, who would need to represent "languages"in the abstract? This might lead you to educational institutions with a focus on international linguistics. That might lead you to the wall carvings of the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt:

enter image description here

...which might give you ideas on how lots of languages and scripts can be used to create an interesting background image.

You might then think about the field of linguistics, which is entirely about languages without narrowing itself to specific languages. How do linguistics books, event posters, etc illustrate this idea?

This kind of research might then refine your idea of how your app is different to other products to do with languages. You might realise there is an important aspect of what your product does with languages that should be emphasised. So you do the process again. Who else, in any context, has needed for any reason to emphasise that aspect of language, language use, communication, understanding, translation, or whatever it is? Then you do research which might give you an even clearer idea of the exact niche you want to bag and the exact idea you want to get across.

All the way, keep anything that feels in any way appropriate, and build up a "mood board" of snippets, clippings etc that for any reason feel like they get across any aspect of the right idea. You'll eventually end up with lots of ideas, lots of examples for inspiration, and a much clearer idea of what exactly your end result must do.

A lot of people are tempted to skip this sort of process and just dive in with whatever their first idea or two is. But, as it sounds like you've discovered, that almost always ends up taking much, much longer in the long run as you discover late into the work that your first idea wasn't actually nearly as suitable as you first thought.

I think that after doing a proper process of iterative brainstorming and research, you'll find that the best idea isn't actually a very literal representation of languages in the abstract. It might be something that evokes the idea of a diverse team each doing their own thing their way. Or you might realise you're getting too abstract and really, you just need to emphasise "this is WordPress but in your language", and you might end up with something like, the WordPress logo, split between many screens, each one showing one letter, each one implying a different language with scripts (e.g. Korean, Thai, Hebrew...), diacritics (e.g. accented letters) and language-associated typefaces (e.g. blackletter).

But we'd be doing you a disservice by just giving you suggestions. This sort of process doesn't need to take long (an hour is sometimes enough) and it's not just the actual ideas that make it valuable - the evolution in the understanding of what you are trying to achieve with the design is just as valuable.

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+1 for a long educational answer. As I've studied architecture, I know that process. Point is that it didn't help me much or bring me further. The first banner on top is what I did straight out of my head - we needed something fast as this is at least a freely available piece of software. The second one came out after brainstorming, lots of discussion (and a bad mood - hence the recycling of those parts). In fact it now is a question like this one: I really ask for a visual representation as I didn't find one –  kaiser Jan 19 '13 at 19:15
sigh need more space to answer your ... answer. :) You're right with the Alexandrian library example. We also had the idea of the tower of Babylon. The question that then followed was "In which culture or part of the world would this be understood?". I guess you see my problem... Making something simple isn't simple as there's no default icon for this. –  kaiser Jan 19 '13 at 19:17
To clarify, I wasn't suggesting referencing the Alexandria library - most people have never heard of the modern building - rather, it's "The people who designed this wall had a similar problem, here's what they did - if their approach doesn't work for us, why not? What does that say about what we're trying to do?" –  user568458 Jan 19 '13 at 19:28

I would suggest to have a drop-down saying Available translation/language, then you can list as many as language you want.

if you have images/flags in-case they increase they will look odd.

you can list as qtranslate(plugin) does (an awesome plugin.)

enter image description here

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Hi Jack. Thanks for your answer. Two notes: First, we got a finished plugin already available on GitHub. Now we're searching for a banner content that shows quickly what this plugin is about (it's not about translated content, but about a translated WP admin UI). Second, we can't use flags, as the plugin is about languages, which are often shared among countries (or at least parts of them). Flags would miss the point. –  kaiser Jan 19 '13 at 14:30
"as the plugin is about languages, which are often shared among countries (or at least parts of them)" boss we are having varieties of languages in one county, I am not sure how you will end up showing this but I guess the text will be better than images, I was searching "List of varieties of Chinese languages" and come up with this "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_dialects";. I dont know whether this comment gonna make sens to you or not :P –  Jack Jan 21 '13 at 6:05
opps : this says it all "It scans the language directory to build the list of available languages. To add a language, simple download the appropriate mo file and add to your WordPress languages folder." so it would be nice if you fetch available languages from folder and you can show langs. for multiple dialects heading "India"> 1)hindi > 2)marathi > 3)bangla and blah blah(appropriate mo files in folder). I think my brain/idea sucks!:S –  Jack Jan 21 '13 at 6:13

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