Language and Usability: It Doesn't Have To Be That Way. And It Shouldn't
By Ultan O'Broin-Oracle on Jan 19, 2011
I enjoyed this very telling comic strip about how some usability professionals might regard language when it comes to designing the user experience:
"...as for the text... just copy something from Wikipedia and polish it up a bit."
However, it's unfunny because very often it's true. Still don't get it? Read the comments of some of our sales folks, partners, and customers (names have been removed to protect the innocent):
- "When the language is IT-speak and not normal speak, it is part of the usability problem."
- "When users know what things mean, they're halfway there. When options are 'simple' English, it's obvious where to look and what to do... the language for users must be clear and helpful."
- "The quality of language in the user interface (UI) is a deal breaker."
- "The competitive playing field has changed since the old days. Customers even do their own usability testing and include language heuristics now. It's a competitive issue."
So, in Oracle Fusion Applications we've spent a great deal of time getting our language (terminology, style and grammar) right for our users. Developers don't create the language you see in the UI or user assistance. There is a comprehensive terminology creation and management process and a multi-stakeholder review process for all UI strings, messages, and help content. Language is a user experience issue and that's why we continually invest in our information quality efforts. We have to. It's a strategic competitive issue for sales and as a productivity issue for users when they work. Watch out for more information about information quality in Oracle Fusion Applications on this blog in 2011.