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Mule Design Studio’s Blog Super Unsuck It! Bye-Bye, My

Mule Design Studio’s Blog Super Unsuck It! Bye-Bye, My

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Published by Luciana Moherdaui

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Published by: Luciana Moherdaui on Sep 23, 2010
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05/12/2014

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WHO WE AREWHAT WE DOOUR WORKOUR WEBLOGHIRE US
In the immortal words of Armand Van Helden:My my my (my my my)Woh (woh)How did we ever get this way?Where’s it gonna go?When designing an interface in 2010, would you copy Windows 95? Would youcopy Yahoo!’s copy of Windows 95?Many people are still doing just that, and we want them to stop.
How did we ever get this way?
In the beginning, there was
My Computer 
, and then there was
My Yahoo!
Then, like mushrooms after arain, a million mindless imitators emerged.These sites didn’t just use
My
in the brand like My Yahoo! or MySpace.
My
came to preface any interfaceelement inviting personalization.In their excellentDesign Pattern Library, the Yahoo! Developer Network explains the heart of the problemtheir parent created. Instead of reinforcing a sense of ownership and agency, this unnatural locution feelspresumptuous and alienating.It is as if the user has printed out labels and stuck them to various objects: My Lunch, MyDesk, My Red Stapler. Except the user hasn’t done this; you (the site) did it for them.This is lazy design and branding. It’s bad style. And it sucks. So, let’s unsuck it!
Where’s it gonna go? Away.
The site or app speaks in the first person plural “we”. (In general, “I” takes you to that creepy HAL 9000place. It’s the uncanny pronoun. Avoid.) The interface addresses the reader as “you”, or by name.Things belonging to the people who run the site, such as a privacy policy, are “ours”. Things belonging tothe user, such as a profile, are “yours”. Anything that is just a part of the overall experience, doesn’tnecessarily need a possessive pronoun at all.That’s all you need to know. Go forth and suck no more.
Additional persuasion to help you break the habit
Writing interface language is like writing dialog for a play. You want to make it clear who is speaking at alltimes. Being clear, as well as appropriately conversational, goes a long way towards making the wholeexperience engaging and successful.Mint.comreceives a lot of praise for their design. Many of those good interface design decisions arelanguage decisions.It’s not Mamet but this construction adds humanit and a sense of service.
Quit Yer Douchin·http://unsuck-it.com/
You are reading Mule DesignStudio’s weblog.Previous Post:The Customer Experienceis the User ExperienceNext Post:The Web is Not Content.The Web is People.
Super Unsuck It! Bye-Bye,My.
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22/9/2010Mule Design Studios Blog: Super Unsmuledesign.com//unsuck_it_speci1/4
 
155
|Written by Erika Hall on June 8, 2010 |, .Sometimes you need to give the user their lines for their part of the interaction. Typically this takes the formof a button or otherwise selectable statement.Here’s a swell example of some complexity fromYouTube:So far, so good. But what about the persistent labels for objects you want your users to own? We cantorture the metaphor a little more and call them the props. Well, if 
we
are talking to
you 
, then these thingsare
yours
.So natural! So friendly! So easy to maintain a helpful consistency.It’s perfectly fine to use no pronoun at all. Plenty of websites get by just fine with an “Account” tab. EvenMicrosoft has relabeled the traditional My Computer icon to Computer with the introduction of Vista.But if you don’t follow this guideline, if you succumb to the peculiar temptation of my, you just set yourself upfor totally unnecessary inconsistency.And, should you decide to brand a whole section of your site with “My”, you aren’t really branding theexperience at all. You are inviting your users to draw an analogy with something another company did over a decade ago. It’s a missed opportunity, and that sucks.
11 comments
so far. Add yours below.
peterme says:Everything old is new again.http://www.peterme.com/index081098.htmlJune 8, 2010 7:18 PM
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22/9/2010Mule Design Studios Blog: Super Unsmuledesign.com//unsuck_it_speci2/4
 
Anil says:Oh man, Peter's post takes me back to before blogs were allowed to use images to illustrate their points.June 8, 2010 7:32 PMDavid Hoffer says:Just ran into this exact problem...again. Now I can point my customers towards a reasonable argumentagainst my. Thanks for your post and thank you peterme for your post, which also reminds me of myage. Which is old.June 9, 2010 8:01 AMPopomaster says:The fonts on unsuck-it.com render terribly on my computer. Looks really ugly. It seems to be the onlywebsite with this problem.August 12, 2010 6:04 AMdarwyn4 says:I'm currently working on a website and I was just wondering wether i sould use "My" or "Your". thanksSeptember 21, 2010 4:34 PMdarwyn4 says:missed an "h" there :DSeptember 21, 2010 4:36 PMgregory says:this is a cool article. Are you aware that all the links in your header lead to 404 pages? For exampleSeptember 21, 2010 4:42 PMEzra says:@Anil: Also, comments!September 21, 2010 5:19 PMAvand Amiri says:Glad to find a nice reference for this language, although you don't address one part of design: calls toactions.Facebook follows the imperative mood (e.g. "Connect," "Like"), which I kind of like.Thoughts?September 21, 2010 6:16 PMTim says:Ha! Re: Creepy first person singular COULD NOT AGREE MORE. :)http://nothingelseis.posterous.com/im-sorry-dave-im-afraid-i-cant-do-that-1
22/9/2010Mule Design Studios Blog: Super Unsmuledesign.com//unsuck_it_speci3/4

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