Internationalizing the user interface

When you build an application for international deployment, there are two user interface design issues you should consider:

  • The physical design of the user interface

  • The cultural standards of your application's audience

Physical design

The physical design of the user interface should include:

  • Windows and objects with the flexibility to accommodate expanded string lengths required when the text in menu items, lists, and labels is translated

    For example, you could inherit a window from an English language ancestor window, and change the language for a localized deployment. Generally, you can accommodate the text for most languages if you allow for a menu item, list, or label size that is 1.3 times the length of an English text string.

  • Windows that can be easily used in RightToLeft versions of Windows

Cultural awareness

The cultural design of your user interface requires you to be cognizant of what is and is not acceptable or meaningful to your audience.

For example, an icon of a hand displaying an open palm might mean stop in one culture but indicate an unacceptable gesture in another. Similarly, although the color yellow signifies caution in some cultures, in other cultures it signifies happiness and prosperity.