User interfaces and the written word

A friend asked me why I put so much emphasis on text when I talk about user interfaces. I cannot give a better answer myself:

Copywriting is interface design. Great interfaces are written. If you think every pixel, every icon, every typeface matters, then you also need to believe every letter matters. When you are writing your interface, always put yourself in the shoes of the person who is reading your interface. What do they need to know? How you can explain it succinctly and clearly?

Read the rest: Getting Real: Copywriting is Interface Design (by 37signals)


Keep it short and sweet. Say what you need to and no more.


For two reasons:

  1. When we say more than we need to say, we probably don’t know what the important part of our message is. Why then do we expect others to know?
  2. When the important part is mixed with unimportant parts, people are likely to miss it.

Of course, length in itself is not an absolute measure of the quality of communication. In fact, even communication that repeats itself can be good communication. But that’s a different matter.


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