Make your product speak users’ languages – Xingchi

One very important rule of design is to speak the user’s language. Being able to match between system and the real world will help users to find your design more intuitive and easy to use. However, many software/physical designs just totally ignore this and make users so confused.

Bad Examples:

Two examples are stated below.

Designer used HTML Color codes to represent colors’ names

The first example comes from a Chinese app called “DigiCal”, a calendar like App. Under the Setting, the App allows people to change the color of the screen. When I was about to change, I was shocked that designers even didn’t use colors’ names to label. They directly used HTML color-code in programming, such as #000000, #FFFFFF. How do you expect your users, mostly not web-designer, to understand this and choose their favorite colors?

The display quality is represented by display resolutions

The second example comes from Harvard Extension School’s video systems. When I was about to change the quality of my lectures’ videos, I was so confused as what in front of me was the information of display resolution. Why can’t you just label your qualities in users’ way, such as High Quality, Medium Quality, Low quality, etc., as users don’t care about your display resolutions, what they care about is just how good is his screen’s quality.

Good Example:

A good example which exemplifies this “match users’ language” is our email apps. It is hard to pinpoint a good example, as we normally didn’t appreciate, because everything seems so natural. However, things could have been much worse. Let’s look at our Email App in my mobile device. When I look at it, it seems so natural: “inbox” new mails, “send items”: letters you just sent, “drafts”: e-mails you haven’t finished editing. Everything seems so organized and matches to real world.


Let’s look at the first version of Email. And now you understand what I meant by matching users’ languages and designers’  🙂


changes to make for those bad examples

Having been talking in detailed about why those examples violates “user-language” match, I made some changes, shown in the scratch below.


About the author: Xingchi

Currently studying Data Science at Harvard University

You must be logged in to post a comment.