The Misbegotten Digital Product Glossary8 min read
These days, just about everyone says they do user experience (UX). Of course, there’s a problem with these abundant claims of UX expertise: Very few firms actually practice what they preach. They talk about usability, but have never done a single user test. They pay lip service to user-centered design, but never actually talk to users. These are the UX pretenders. They brazenly parrot the latest digital trends in hopes of winning your business.
What would a UX glossary look like for firms of this sort? We imagine it would be simultaneously funny and cringeworthy, a bit like watching an episode of The Office (BBC version).
So we decided to write it.
We’ve created the world’s first ironic UX glossary. Think of it as an offbeat public service announcement, a what-not-to-do. If your agency, web design firm, web app consultant, or UX team believes any of the things on the following list, run.
Run like the wind.
The Misbegotten UX GlossaryA B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
A pretty darn good grade.
Bothersome governmental guidelines that make your site or web application look like they’re from 1991.
Any graphic depiction of status among members of a group. Originated by cliques of middle school girls.
The process of removing all user-related activities from the project in order to cut the budget.
Any group that, for the last two decades, has experienced profound difficulty incorporating the web into their business model.
Created by God on the First Day.
Irrelevant numbers that have nothing whatsoever to do with your project.
App (phone, tablet)
New-fangled smart phone dingus made by upstart millennials.
Application (desktop, web)
Online functionality designed with classic client-server overtones, wonderfully snug layout, compact data windows, and enough internal scroll bars to please just about everyone. There can never be too many scroll bars.
Something you vaguely remember learning about in Ms. Phelan’s sixth grade English class.
Zesty dressing for a nice gluten-free kale salad.
Every person on the planet, especially Baby Boomers, are expert-level users of this software.
What happens after a game of 52 Pick-Up with your five-year-old.
If you string more than two of these together, users will never, ever reach their destination.
The solution to every last one of your problems. Miracle elixir.
Your enlightened, infallible thoughts.
The mysterious practice of defining just how exhaustive and elaborate the company history page should be.
The more you make people read this, the happier they will be. Pour it on. (Synonyms: Content)
Completely indistinguishable from end users.
A mundane discipline. Everyone with a pulse possesses complete mastery.
Should this be green? Blue? Perhaps red. My wife likes red.
When clients spontaneously weep at the sight of your brilliant portfolio.
A serious commitment involving a ring. Non-binding in Hollywood.
A fatal exception AE has occurred at 0020:CBB11E367 in UXB UMM(A1) + 00018E36. The current application will be terminated.
$400. No, wait. $300.
Field of study that determines why the Irish aren’t overly fond of Italians.
Use as a prefix for any concept, offering, or process you don’t fully understand or can’t adequately put into words.
What happens when you visit postmodern structures like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai or the Guggenheim Museum in Spain.
What happens when your teenage daughter decides to paint her room black.
What happens when Siri suggests you make a right hand turn directly into a lake.
What happens during an intense game of laser tag.
Cite this whenever justifying layout or design to your client. The details are unimportant.
Ignore this. As a rule, no one does it.
Why employee bios must always be positioned dominantly on websites.
You are not 25 and can no longer squeeze into those jeans.
The best way to find out anything.
An imaginary line above which you must stay lest you break your mother’s back.
Incorrect spelling of graphics design or graphical design.
The thing that makes your app pretty.
How you find anything on a phone.
Any over-the-counter medicine that fights nasal congestion.
Postbellum South Carolina statute requiring all residents to own firearms but not shoes.
Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
We’re sorry Dave, but Hal just can’t do that.
What your client’s kid thinks of your interface. This opinion is massively influential.
Something made precisely as the designer wanted in the first place.
Information Architecture (IA)
Can’t design? Can’t program? Have we got a job for you.
The process of adding pie charts and bar graphs to PowerPoint.
The thing you tweak after the programmers have finished making it.
The CEO likes it.
What you do the day before launch when the CEO finally reviews the project.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Advertising or web design awards.
Look and Feel
How your client describes the sum of everything you do.
Lisa, created by Gary and Wyatt in Weird Science.
Fabricated goals or statistics.
Repeat this word eleventy times when seeking funding for your next project.
The thing you do last.
Procrastination via collage.
Term once used by traditional designers to describe anything not made of paper.
Fight for this original idea no matter what you learn later.
Slightly newer than old media.
Complex, demographic user profile. Completely made up or picked from a pre-made inventory. Includes vital data like favorite color, pet’s name, and least favorite household chore.
Always put this at the top of your website. Always. The longer the sales cycle, the larger the number.
The entrance to a new dimension in space-time. Always includes stock quotes and weather.
Quality Assurance Testing
Nameless, faceless users.
An abstract concept that rarely makes its way into real-world practice. Often annoyingly and persistently requested midway through development.
A politician’s demeanor after he or she receives a sizeable donation but before being asked for a favor.
Your one chance to impress a potential client with an avalanche of free work.
The primary vehicle that delivers free consulting. Ensures you can lasso the moon in under six weeks.
Really Old Interface
The A-Team’s latest predicament. Solved by Hannibal Smith’s elaborately implausible plan.
Expressly forbidden by the Interactive Perception Act of 1994. Avoid at all costs. Protect the fold at all costs.
Your gloriously brilliant, completely unique design. It consists of a logo, banner, footer, navigation bar and stock photo.
The inability for the human brain to… um, something or other.
A flowchart. Don’t make this—your client has it covered.
Your favorite song from high school, or “The Room Where It Happens” from Hamilton: The Musical.
Any onerous, tedious assignment given to you by the damned project manager.
The name of your graphic designer’s favorite band.
A term that means something different to every single member of your project team, every piece of software you’ve ever licensed, every project you’ve ever done, and every client you’ve ever had.
First, second, or third base, respectively.
The wondrous cure-all for every single usability problem.
Use this term repeatedly on your firm’s site. Its meaning, implication, process, and actual value are irrelevant.
Making your app conform to the whims of the client.
User-Centered Design (UCD)
The reason behind every problem with your digital product.
User Experience (UX)
Every agency, boutique, shop, consultancy, internal group, or autonomous collective does this. Everyone.
Any pretty website.
Descent into expletive-laden, irrational hysterics as people attempt to reset their password for your app.
Idiots. Morons, all.
User Test (Usability Test)
Confirms that people are mortifyingly stupid and are unable to comprehend your genius.
The programmers think it looks pretty.
The reality of your agile process.
Something that can be made in minutes by nearly anyone. Usually free.
A waste of perfectly good pixels.
Reusable functionality that fits seamlessly into ANY context. Employ whenever thinking about the needs of real people is too difficult.
Glorified, pretentious napkin sketch.
Our team has been doing the real work of user experience since the earliest days of the commercial web. We’re out to make your digital products a whole lot better.
And we don’t even need a glossary to do it.