UI Text

Simplicity is Difficult

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https://slides.com/mike-1/osconjang/live

Simplicity in UI Text

Microcopy

=

Inspiration

Audience

  • Writers
  • UI Designers
  • UI Developers
  • Testers
  • Others

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Senior Technical Writer

 

Identity Relationship Management

 

Mission

 

 

  • Complete accurate documentation ...

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Background

My Bias

Why Graphical UIs

It sells

UIs:

 

The Holy

Grail

Examples of Bad UI Text

  • Billboards
  • Street Signs
  • Airplanes
  • UIs

 Fair use (I hope)

UI Text Can't Solve

Bad Design

 

  • Close
  • Open
  • Lock
  • Instructions?

 

Credit:  Beth Aitman

What Floor?

Bad UI
Text

 

 

Extracted?

Text

Credit:  Ryan Bigge

Useless UI Text

Credit: Gordon Hatton CC-SA-2.0

Worst UI Text Ever

(IMO)

Worst

UI Text

Text

Text

self-created

10 Steps to Better UI Text

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

Know Your Product

  • Complete, Accurate Depiction of Functionality

Not Microcopy

Can you read that in one breath?

Who Would Read This?

Know Your Product

  • Complete, Accurate Depiction of Functionality
  • Help Users Do Their Jobs

Help Users Do Their Jobs

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

Principles

of UI Design

Credit:  Steve Krug

Making the User Think

Credit: Gordon Hatton CC-SA-2.0

Sometimes You Should Make Users Think

Good UIs

Prevent

Trouble

Simplicity is Zen

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

One Easy Breath

Simplicity is Zen

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Is

This

Zen?

Cause and Effect

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

Sometimes You Should Make Users Think

The New BSoD

Two Thoughts

Simplicity -> Docs

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

Credit: @joaofnfernandes

UI

Text

Win

Credit: @joaofnfernandes

UIs That Require

Documentation

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Simplicity Depends on Audience

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

Audiences

End-user

Administrator

Sales Engineer

Manager

Depends on

Audience

The Stakeholder Challenge

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

The Challenge

Know Your Stakeholders

Stakeholders

  • Product Managers
  • Designers
  • Front-end Developers
  • Back-end Developers
  • Testers (QA)
  • Writers

Product Manager

  • Sales
  • Customers
  • Bandwidth

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UI Style Guides and Mockups

UI Developers

Backend

Developers

 

 

Under the Hood

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Tester

  • UI Text: measurable

 

  • QA == Your Friend

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Writer

  • Right words for your audience

 

  • Hemingway, not Tolstoy

Implementation

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Getting to Simplicity

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

"Easy Stuff"

  • Functional Text

  • Capitalization

  • Grammar

Start With The Easy Stuff

Address Redundancies, Grammar

Comparisons

Examples

 

  • Add a New Connector  >  Add Connector
  • Setup Password Reset  >  Configure Password Reset

 

Lessons

  • Remove Redundancies
  • Review Functional Grammar (e.g. Setup v. Set Up v. Configure)

Not That Easy

Be Flexible

  • Minimal viable text
  • Incomplete sentences OK
  • No periods OK
  • Incorrect grammar OK (if it works)
  • Don't apologize, don't say please (unless necessary)

Don't Be This Guy

OK to end a sentence with a Preposition

OK to Split Infinitives

To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

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Simplicity Requires Homework

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Use style guides (details)

The Harder Stuff

More Than Grammar

Complete, Accurate, Wall of Text

Can you read that in one breath?

PR Excerpt

The target object qualifies and a link is found,

but the source object is missing

Before:

After:

Valid target found, link found

Objections

Answer = Context

Replicating Simplicity

  1.  Know your product
  2. "Don't Make Me Think"
  3.  One easy breath
  4.  Two thoughts
  5.  Minimize need for docs
  6.  Know your audience
  7.  Know your stakeholders
  8.  Start with the easy stuff
  9.  Harder stuff: do your homework
  10.  Scaling: use style guides

Implementation: Style Guide

  • Audience
  • Precedents

Audiences

End-user

Administrator

Sales Engineer

Manager

Precedents

Recommendation

Create Your Own UI Text Style Guide

 

  • Examples from your UI
  • Customized for your audience

 

* Exceptions...

It's a Conversation

Accessibility

Suitable for screen readers

  • Alternate Text (images)
  • Shadow Text
  • Error Message Icons (!)
  • Pop-up Windows
  • Click, Press, Select

Basis:

UI Text Style Guide Components

  • Style and Tone
  • Buttons
  • Labels
  • Help
  • Messages
  • Design / Layout
  • Terminology, Capitalization, Punctuation

Style and Tone

Make Every Word Earn Its Place

The New

BSoD

The New

BSoD

Buttons

Avoid Redundancy

Save

Changes

Labels, Dialog, Shadow

Human Readable Names

Not Self-Documenting

Messages

Don't Blame Users. Be Helpful.

Blame, Apologies = Waste

Credit: Designed for Use, Lukas Mathis

Not

Helpful

Be Consistent

Terminology / Capitalization / Punctuation

Help Text

Avoid the BSoD

Complete, Accurate, Wall of Text

Can you read that in one breath?

Design / Layout

Adds Context

Context Adds Content

Credits

The End

Thanks for Listening!

CC-NA-3.0

UI Text

Simplicity is Difficult

CC-NA-3.0

UI Text: Simplicity is Difficult

By Mike

UI Text: Simplicity is Difficult

Mike Jang's slides, OSCON 2017

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