In user-interface design, always address the user as “you” (and never “me”)

By Adrian Smith15 Feb 2010200 words1 mins to read

Computers, if they are addressing the user, should address the user as "you", not as "me".

Computers need, from time to time, to address the user, for example "You have updated your setting successfully".

Some programs use the word "you" to address the user, some use the word "me" on the grounds that the user is reading it, and to them, they are "me".

However, using "me" to address someone is ridiculous! That's as logical as a human using the word "I" or "me" to refer to the recipient of a piece of communication, "hey, do I fancy going to the pub?" on the grounds that, to the recipient, they are "I".

"me" is the source of communication, "you" is the destination of communication; if a computer is communicating, the user is the recipient of the communication so should be called "you".

Specifically Gmail is the main culprit for this in my life, it lists conversations between "me, Joe"; having "you, Joe" or "Adrian, Joe" would be much better! Gmail even, on the same screen that it lists conversations between "me" and other people, says "You are using 25% of your 7000MB", so it's not even consistent!

This article was written by Adrian Smith on 15 Feb 2010

Follow me: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

More on: Words & Language | Requirements & UX