2 minute read.

You interface isn’t 50 shades of gray. Start thinking how you press your users’ buttons.

Paul Anthony / February 14, 2016

Posted in: Archive

In designing beautiful interfaces, the language you use is as important as how it looks aesthetically. Plenty has been written on how important it is to make users feel comfortable using your product, yet small copy details and what can seem like minor interface interactions all too often get overlooked.

recruitment-dominatrixImage via Sirona Consulting

I get it, designers aren’t typically the people who should be making language decisions on how a product feels, but often something as simple as button text can make the difference between whether an element is clicked or not. Run a few A/B tests, and see for yourself.

All too often, I see interfaces deployed in a live environment with this button text in a design.


That’s typically what programmers write on buttons. It’s ‘submitting’ data to the server, or ‘submitting’ a form or application therefore it’s a ‘Submit’ button. <input type=”submit” /> even renders ‘Submit’ as the default text in that scenario.

But, that doesn’t describe anything about how the software will react next. Will it save it? Will it take me to the next page? Will it save then take me to the next page? Nope, it’ll just submit it, and what it does next, who the hell knows. Removing as much doubt as you possibly can before someone interacts with your interface helps to ease a user in and make them feel comfortable, and words like ‘submit’ provide little in the way of subtle hints.

Not to mention that the word itself is both cold and sterile.

I get that there’s double entendre here, but ‘Submit’ is something a Dominatrix makes their sub do. It’s not how you should be asking your users to interact with your application.

One company that get this absolutely spot on is MailChimp. Have a look at how thoughtful their entire process is surrounding language. They’ve not only got a style guide for their overall look and feel, but they’ve also got a language guide on Tone and Voice.

That’s what makes the difference between good and great software, when every button press has been thought about careful to potentially provoke an emotional response.

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