It’s all about the name

Have you ever experienced a software product that wasn’t intuitive to use? I once worked on a product that I just couldn’t grasp. When the product manager explained it to me, I finally understood what it was all about. The problem was in the name- specifically, in the names given to objects on the screen. Once I understood what the terms on the screen meant, I suddenly understood how the product worked. Often in product development, the names or labels for interface elements are left to the discretion of the programmer. Unfortunately, programmers don’t often understand how the product will be used in the field, and their choice for names is suboptimal. When poor naming is used, the training and documentation teams are forced to “define terms” and add additional descriptions to procedures in order that the user understand the product. In some cases, entire product overview sections are required to compensate for poor naming. So, they say that “a picture is worth 1000 words”. I say that “The right name is worth 1000 words of documentation”.

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