Avoid Ambiguity

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h3. Best Practice
bq. Avoid ambiguity. (A.K.A “Don’t Make Me Think”:http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0321344758/imho0b-20)
h3. Rationale
Any lack of clarity in language, labelling or visual design creates a stress point where your user has to stop and consider options. The more stress points the greater the chance of failure in any online process.
h3. Tip
Give special consideration to *context*. Consider this warning message at “apple.ca”:http://www.apple.ca/:
Ambiguous Apple Jobs Warning Message
In this case the phrase “do you want to continue?” and the terms “Cancel” and “Continue” are ambiguous.
If I want to cancel my subscription do I press “cancel” (to cancel the subscription) or “continue” (to continue _the process_ of cancelling)?
See the problem here?
h3. Best Practice In Action
The “sign-up page”:http://signup.stikipad.com/signup for online application “StikiPad”:http://www.stikipad.com is the epitome of clarity:
StikiPad Sign-up Page
_(disclosure: StikiPad is a One Degree sponsor)_

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One thought on “Avoid Ambiguity

  1. Marcel Ursprung

    A point well made, but all too often not heard. User interface designers must realize that the forms they create directly affect the bottom line. Just because you can code a form in HTML doesn’t mean you should. Let a marketing or usability expert describe what needs to be done.
    One great example is the Blogger signup form, they have done a great job eliminating all ambiguity. Read about it here:

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