We need shared names for things

When we work on things together we often need to agree what we call things. My daughter and I have developed a language for the most common components to help us build lego constructions as a team. We call this lego block an “eightser”. Our names for these logo blocks are just like the names in a UX “glossary” that we use in service and product design.

The importance of a “glossary” was made very real for me as I tried and failed to get a NORMAN & SONS team onboarded to a bank we’ve not worked for before. To get access to the bank’s systems I needed a secret “token”. This “token” is normally generated by an iPhone app to ensure that it’s me and only me attempting to get access. Unfortunately to set up this iPhone app I needed to have access to the bank’s systems. To get around this “catch 22” scenario I had to call the bank’s help desk to get a temporary “token”. This process was a bit more complicated because I also had a username (that that looked very much like a “token”), an initial password (that’s also looked like a “token”). What was confusing was that this “token” was called a “pass code” on the bank’s logon screen, a “token” in the documentation for new users, and something else by the bank’s automated help desk.

When we’re designing new user experiences for our clients we recommend creating a shared “glossary” of terms that everyone can agree on and that everyone is required to use, not just software designers but also the guys who write the documentation, the guys who record the automated voice messages on the help desk, support staff, everyone involved in creating the service for users.