Getting the ball over the net
It’s more important to get the ball over the net than to play the perfect shot.
Michel Thomas used a great analogy when teaching people how to speak new languages. He explained that language primary purpose is to communicate and being understood should be prioritised over saying it correctly.
The analogy he used was comparing speaking foreign languages to playing a game of tennis. Concentrate on getting the ball over the net rather than playing a good shot and you are more likely to get the ball over the net. If you worry about playing a good shot you might not even get the ball over the net.
I use this a lot in the advice I give clients.
Accuracy and usability sometimes compete
A dogged approach to being accurate will sometimes get in the way of you designing better experiences. It’s hard to let go of accuracy in your copy and in your information architecture. But from time-to-time you should.
You want your design to be perfect right? Striving for perfection should be done with the understanding that achieving perfection is impossible. Your world would be very boring if this was not the case.
To tap or to click?
Here is a minor example I’ve seen a few times. People stressing too much about the word click.
When you’re designing for the web, your designs can be used on all manner of devices. Generally speaking people understand what you mean by ‘click’ though. When I run usability testing on mobile devices, very few people tell me they are about to tap something. They almost always say ‘click’. But when you describe this in your copy (which might be a signal your interface has deeper issues BTW) it’s fine to say ‘click’. People on phones will know what you mean.
This is just an example of how accuracy can get in the way of comprehension. Saying ‘Tap or click’ has no real benefit other than to bloat your copy. And anyway, what about TVs?
The strive to be accurate tends to have an impact when people are defining an information architecture. When you are naming sections, it can be difficult to choose something which is intuitive but also describes everything in that section accurately. My advice is to prioritise intuitive over accurate.
Some of the items in that section are more important than others. Choose a name which will work as a good trigger for the most important stuff and accept that some of the less important stuff might be a bit more difficult to find as a result of your choice.
About the author
I’m David Hamill. I help organisations take better decisions through lean but meaningful UX research. If you liked this post, you can read some more below.
If you would like my help to improve your product decisions, then get in touch.
- Using evidence and instinct in design
- The power of the big green tick
- Design guidelines for mobile date-pickers
- Getting real about delightful design
- Moving beyond guerilla research
- Cognitive interviews for user research
- Moderating user research with Zoom
- Communicating UX issues with comics
- Understanding sampling bias