The UX Vocabulary Inflation Problem

As you might know, Jacob Nielsen is considered the father of usability on the web. He is one of the voices that matter when Usability and User Experience come into place. I always recommend his website to my students because of the quality of the articles that they have based on research and not just personal opinions. This is my go-to guide for most of the UX articles and I highly recommend it to anybody in the UX field.

I found a great video where he discussed vocabulary inflation in the field of UX. He refers as vocabulary inflation to the reinventing the wheel when it comes to user experience terms. Instead of building the knowledge on previous research, people are trying to reinvent the wheel and come with new terms for the same things. In UX positions, we see a lot of job titles and terminologies that are basically the same thing but keep us for being on the same page. For example, Usability, User Experience, Customer Experience, User-Centered Design, Human-Centered Design, Ergonomics, Human Factors, Interaction Design, etc. All of them are basically the same thing: designing a system that solves the problem of the users.

Seasoned designers will understand all this terminology but it is frustrating for new designers because they don’t know where to start learning. Also, when applying for a job, people will not be clear of what are the requirements because the job posting has different terms. If the UX professionals put themselves in the shoes of the users of the field, we will realize that it is not very user-friendly to have multiple and confusing terms to address the same thing.

We can agree or disagree with Nielsen. However, it is a great start for rethinking terms in UX and how it can affect the share of knowledge between professionals and from one generation to another. One solution is using the NNGroup website or the Interaction Design Foundation to educate and alert UX professionals about this issue and how it can affect communication within a team.

Teylor Feliz
Teylor Feliz

Teylor is a seasoned generalist that enjoys learning new things. He has over 20 years of experience wearing different hats that include software engineer, UX designer, full-stack developer, web designer, data analyst, database administrator, and others. He is the founder of Haketi, a small firm that provides services in design, development, and consulting.

Over the last ten years, he has taught hundreds of students at an undergraduate and graduate levels. He loves teaching and mentoring new designers and developers to navigate the rapid changing field of UX design and engineering.

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