1. Points that must be satisfied
The purpose of the multilingual start page is to guide users to the different language websites. It is a n entry point to the way through the real site, and it must be fast and clear.
- The multilingual start page must be usable and accessible
- It must be fast, less than 50 KB
- It must be clear where to click in order to choose the language
- It must use language code ISO 639 to convey language options
It is usually the first page that users see when they visit a European institution website. But they do not always see it. If they come from a search engine, for example, they will probably be linked addressed to an directly in an inner page wr o te written in one specific European language. So, they see it only when they have not already made a choice on the language of consultation. In conclusion, we cannot anticipate the language of the users.
- The start page cannot use a default language
But it is also the first page that users see - the first opportunity for the institution to present him itself. Usability guidelines state "make the site's purpose clear: explain who you are and what you do".
Let us focus on the first part: who are we? First, we must say to the user that what he or she is looking at is a website of the European public administration. ù
- European flag must be used
Second, we must give our organization organisation / Institution institution name.
- Organisation/institution name must be shown
We can define two uses for the organ iz isation/institution name: for the main site ( e.g. http://publications.eu.int/) or for a sub-site / service site of the organisation / institution ( e.g. http://ted.publications.eu.int/). For the firsts former, it the name plays works the primary role to explain who we are, and must be translated in order to be immediately compressible comprehensible to all. For the seconds latter, it works plays an important role in explaining who offers the sub-site / service site, but that is less important in the global hierarchy of the information that the start page must convey . Please note ( refer to rule 6), that we: it could be important to remember that wehave already explained who we are with the use of the European flag and, from the user's point of view , this is satisfactorythat is sufficient. Moreover, in some cases, the Institutional institution name is so long that translating it into every language could mean occupying all the available space or reducing the visibility of a more important message such as the tagline of the service. We are confronted by a question problem: what kind of start page do we propose would we make - politically balanced or user centred? We have opted for the second solution and decided that when the organ iz isation/institution name is used as a colophon for a sub-site/service site it is un indispensable necessary to present it in all languages.
- For the main site, the organisation / institution name must be presented in every language
- When the organisation / institution name is in the form of a colophon, it must be presented in the official language of the colophon
When the start page is the entry point for a particular service, we must also explain what the website do es. This is not easy! Explain it is harderIn some cases, we are fortunate because the sub-site / service site name is self-explanatory and we do not need to offer additional explanation, explain nothing else,other than to translate it into every language (for example EU - Bookshop).
In other cases, the sub-site / service site name is an acronym or an abbreviation or a sort of similar. Usually it works with one language, but not with others. We advise you to avoid acronyms and abbreviations. However, if this is not possible we can only suggest the use of good sense: if the acronym / abbreviation can be clearly explained in one or more languages, explain it with those languages and use a one-sentence tagline for the other ones s. Otherwise, and this should be for all the websites used in this document as examples, invent a one-sentence tagline that summar iz ises what the site does, ignoring the sense of the acronym / abbreviation.
- 10. The sub-site/service site name must be shown
(good sense for acronyms and abbreviations)
- It must briefly explain what the website does
Tests have shown that a recognisable layout allows an increase, with practice, in the speed of scanning a page. Moreover, a recogn iz isable layout also works to strengthen the European institutional image. On the other hand, But from another side we also need to harmonise the start page with the global look of the web site.
- A recognisable layout must be used throughout any institutional website
It must be harmonised with the look of the website
2. Points that should be satisfied
HTML text is more accessible, faster to download and to edit / update than image text.
- Use HTML text instead of image text
- It is better to use a good one-sentence tagline than a generic welcome message