Clear and concise language throughout an interface is one of the most important aspects of a good user experience. When in doubt, follow these best practices to ensure effective communication.

  • Straight to business — Write labels, instructions and messages in a professional, but not stuffy tone. Instructions and labels teach users how to use the application.
  • Be precise — Language should be clear and exacting. Inform users what they should do and why. Keep labels and instructions short and to the point. Avoid contractions and abbreviations. Use minimal humor. Other cultures and languages may take offense at the joke.
  • Be active — Use verbs and the present tense to describe what is happening in your application. Assignment names and modal window headers follow the pattern of [Verb][Noun]. Buttons labels describe their function. For example use "Update user story case type" as a modal header, and "Update case type" as the button label.
  • Educate — Teach your user to use your application by giving them context & purpose to their actions. Explain why a user should perform an action as well as how.
  • Never blame the user — Never blame the user for mistakes or errors. Whether a user has succeeded or is seeking help, write messages in an active voice: "Use the button in the bottom right-hand corner to proceed to the next step". Write errors using the passive voice: "The connection was lost".
  • Ownership — A user owns the experience in your application. Write labels and instructions using the second person: "Go to your work list". Do not use first person plural such as "we" or "our" when referring to items in the application.
  • Communicate in benefits and outcomes — Users are not interested in understanding how software is built; they want to know how it will help them complete their work effectively.
  • No technical jargon — Always favor simple, familiar terms whenever possible and never use tech or Pega-specific jargon.
  • Use sentence casing — Do not use “Camel case” or “All caps”. RuleSet and RULESET are incorrect, while ruleset is correct.

Last updated: Mar 2017

Language within forms

Forms make up a sizable percentage of enterprise product screens. When it comes to forms, the Pega UX goals are to achieve clarity, consistency, and readability, by using a conversational style of labeling. A form should read like a conversation, with a natural flow — not like an interrogation.

  • Consider how words feel — Avoid aggressive wording (while remaining business-like).
  • Order labels logically — Reflect the flow of a conversation, placing simple items at the top of the form and more complex items below.
  • Organize information thoughtfully — Group related information in easy-to-comprehend chunks.
  • Communicate in benefits and outcomes — Embed links in calls-to-action. For example, “There are no links to display. Add link” (where “Add link” is the hyperlink).

Last updated: Mar 2017

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