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Choose your words wisely

I came across an interview excerpt (Larry Tesler on The “Laws” of Interaction Design) the other day from the IxDA discussion list, and while I thought the excerpt itself was quite difficult to read as someone used an orange background with white text, I found the article to be quite valuable. I was particularly intrigued by one snippet…

Choice of words is important. Shorter is usually better. But if you have to explain what “x” means to many of your users–or worse, to your teammates–then you should probably replace “x” by whatever you said to explain it.

As I’ve worked with Program Managers on UI text, far too often I’ve seen them use literal strings in the UI to no fault of their own. But then I say to the PM, “how would you explain this to a user?” and the resulting explanation ends up providing the better words to use in the UI string.

By no means am I giving PMs a hard time and suggesting that this is common among the discipline, I’m really just trying to highlight how a PM and writer (user assistance) might work together on UI text to try to improve it.

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