Words and actions

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I’ve been working on a big website redesign project that has got me thinking a lot about the the role of words in user interface design. Words are often an afterthought for designers, but they can help simplify an interface.

Case in point, this label that I spotted on a water heater in the men’s room. It’s hard to read but says: si le temoin ne clignote plus contacter votre installateur, which translates roughly to: if the light is no longer blinking contact your installer.

Huh? As far as I’m concerned, blinking is unclear. Like a flashing yellow traffic light, does it mean stop or proceed with extra caution or what? What the photo doesn’t show is the color of the LED: green. So is blinking green better or worse than full green? And will it turn other colors?

If they could only afford one LED, I would have suggested a red one that is default off with a sticker that says: red light=contact your installer.

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