In our daily lives we are affected by the wording and labels we are exposed to. Just have a Google for labeling mistakes and the number of stories returned is quite frightening. These can range from simply not presenting key information but can go so far as creating an almost global frame of mind that dictates future actions or perceptions about an entire topic such as war.

Likewise, interface design is hugely affected by the labels we give to elements of the UI or the documentation we provide. We have technical authors at Red Gate who review our designs and every string in the interface is carefully selected and reviewed before a release. When it comes to websites the same rule applies but how carefully do we really review or test the wording we use on web pages? Some labels are standardized across the web and and in almost all cases shouldn’t be deviated from.

Recently an A/B test was run on the wording of the download button on the Firefox website. This simple example demonstrated an effect which we have seen before where a button performing the exact same action (linking to a particular section of the website), had its wording changed to a stronger call of action which appeared to change the mindset of the user and led to higher conversions with exactly the same conditions.

How carefully do we really think about each label on a webpage given what a large effect it can have? When a user lands on a product page they often want to be immediately pointed in a particular direction. Not only the design of the site comes into play here but the clear wording and signals we use. How strong are your calls to action and how many visitors are you losing as a result of your choice of labels? If you aren’t sure then it’s time to review your calls to action and test alternatives to find out. You may be surprised… or even shocked.


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  • Irene Melo

    That is a great idea.
    I’m a 1 person team, but this inspired be to hold a similar workshop with other members of my team to give them a refresher on the heuristics. It will be particularly good for the people who recently joined the team.

    Oh, and I’d like to see the findings :)

    • Marine Barbaroux

      Hi Irene! Nice to see this is inspiring… tell us how it goes with the other team members?
      I need to have a bit more time to transfer all the finding, but I’ll do when I have a bit of extra time… Please be patient :)

    • Adam

      Would be interested to hear about your experience when you do the workshop – interested in a guest blog post?

      • Irene Melo

        Yes, absolutely.

  • Ed Ralph

    Do you think you/the team learned new skills?

    • Marine Barbaroux

      Some people learnt some less common heuristics (or the theory underlying the activity) but mostly, I’d say the katas are more about not forgetting skills than learning new ones :)

    • Adam

      Speaking as one of the team, I’d already used heuristics quite a bit in a previous job, but only occasionally since, so it was not so much about learning a new skill, more an opportunity to brush up on an existing technique and as a reminder of its value. It definitely felt like a worthwhile activity.