Interface Writing: Code for Humans

C367948a0b16e9f060f735ebe94cff39?s=47 Nicole Fenton
September 13, 2014

Interface Writing: Code for Humans

We build systems to help real people. But honestly, are we being that helpful in our interfaces? Or are we treating the copy as an afterthought and letting people fend for themselves? Instead of debating the latest design trends, let’s reflect on something that isn’t going away: the text on your website. We’ll look at how strings, labels, forms, and flows shape the user experience.


Nicole Fenton

September 13, 2014


  1. Interface Writing: ! @nicoleslaw Code for Humans

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  7. So bossy.

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  10. Interface Writing •buttons •errors and alerts •forms •in-app disclosures •links

    •navigation •notifications •product tours •setting names •tooltips •transactional emails
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  15. >  I’m  bored.



  18. —Tim Maly, “We Have Always Coded” “It is no coincidence

    that many women have compared weaving code to instructing a child. With both kids and computers, you must carefully think through what you want them to do, and then carefully phrase your commands.”
  19. My Goals Be clear. Be kind. Be careful. Be honest.

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  21. Practical Tips Start with questions. Be a good tour guide.

    Turn your chair. Show you care. Write iteratively.
  22. Start with questions.

  23. Questions • What is the user trying to do? •

    What might they be feeling? • How did they get here? • What happens next? • What do they need to understand? • Why does this matter to them?
  24. Be a good tour guide.

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  28. Turn your chair.

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  33. Show you care.

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  38. —Paul Ford, “10 Timeframes” “The only unit of time that

    matters is heartbeats. The time you spend is not your own.”
  39. Write iteratively.

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  42. Thanks! @nicoleslaw 35% off at NICELY