published 12 February 2013
Dustin Curtis, adding his voice to a dilemma that I’ve had to wrestle with almost since day one of my career:
A question that inevitably comes up very early in the process of designing a new app is this: should the interface refer to the user as “your” or “my” when talking about the user’s stuff, as in “my profile” or “your settings”? For a long time, this question ate at my soul. Which is right?
Dustin sides with the “yours” camp, as have I for quite some time:
After thinking about this stuff for a very long time, I’ve settled pretty firmly in the camp of thinking that interfaces should mimic social creatures, that they should have personalities, and that I should be communicating with the interface rather than the interface being an extension of myself.
Others, notably Twitter for example, side with “mine”:
However, there’s a third option that deserves attention. No, not third person, though that’d make for an interesting user experience (“Her Profile”). It’s simply making the interface clear enough that pronouns and possessive adjectives aren’t needed. “Profile”, “Documents”, and the like.
In today’s world of following, favoriting, and friending, it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish between what’s yours (mine?) and what’s theirs (yours?). Understandably, labels are still needed, despite our best efforts to present the UI with clarity.
Hence, I’ll continue to side with “yours” as long as it remains necessary. There’s nothing worse than a FAQ page that says, “Please visit your ‘My English Lit’ page to learn more about pronouns and possessive adjectives.”
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