Localising services for different languages makes City of Helsinki services more approachable and easy to understand for wider audiences.

Here are some recommendations for localising content and navigation:

  • The default language of Helsinki digital services is Finnish (FI).

    • It is recommended that Helsinki digital services follow the Finnish date and time locale even if the user is using some other language. See the HDS data format guidelines for more information.
  • Content should also be provided at least in Swedish (SV) and English (EN), if possible.

    • Finnish (FI), Swedish (SV), and English (EN) languages should be treated as equal in content and language menus. For these languages, it is recommended to provide full content.
    • For the English (EN) locale, British English spelling should be used.
    • For the Swedish (SV) locale, the Helsingfors version of the framed logo should be used. Other languages use the default Helsinki framed logo. See more in the logo guidelines.
  • Additional languages, sign language, and plain language versions of content can be added depending on the targeted user group of the service. The content provided in additional languages can be a subset or a summary of the main content.

  • Let the user select their preferred language.

    • Do not auto-localise content or menus unless the user has picked a default language for themself.
    • For logged-in users, the language selection can be stored in user information.
    • For non-logged-in users, the selection made in the language picker can be stored with a cookie.
  • When the user switches languages, the page context should be preserved.

    • When the user switches language on a sub-page, the corresponding page should be shown, instead of redirecting the user to the front page.
    • If a localised version of the content is not available, it is recommended to inform the user and provide possible next actions, instead of redirecting to the front page.
  • The preferred method for switching languages is with the language picker action in HDS Navigation component.

    • If there are less than three available languages and the services navigation is simple, available languages can be listed as links in the navigation bar action row instead of a language select dropdown.
  • Use language code (FI, SV, EN...) to represent locales

    • Do not use flags. Languages are not always country-specific.
    • The currently selected language (for example in navigation language picker) can be indicated with language code alone.
    • When listing languages for selection it is advised to also write out the locale in its corresponding language. Here are some common example locales:
Table 1: Language code and verbose for the most used languages in the Helsinki services
LocaleLanguage codeVerbose
FinnishFISuomeksi (FI)
SwedishSVPå svenska (SV)
EnglishENIn English (EN)
GermanDEAuf Deutsch (DE)
FrenchFREn français (FR)
EstonianETEesti keelel (ET)
SpanishESEn español (ES)
Northern SamiSEDavvisámegillii (SE)
Inari SamiSMIAnarâškielân (SMI)
Skolt SamiSKSNuõrttsää´mǩiõ´lle (SKS)
SomaliSOAf soomaali (SO)
RussianRUПо-русски (RU)
JapaneseJA日本語 (JA)
ChineseZH中文 (ZH)
ArabicARبالعربية (AR)
FārsīFAفارسی (FA)