Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Say a user is signed in to my website and looking at his dashboard which may have a section for his/her incoming messages.

Should I label that section "My incoming messages", "Your incoming messages" or just "Incoming messages"?

When is it ok to use the first person, if at all, when displaying content to a user? For example, on facebook, it never says "My Friends" or "My Account". It just says "Friends" instead of "My Friends" or "John Doe" instead of "My Profile". On the other hand, on twitter, there are things labelled in the first person, such as "View my profile page".

The second person ("you") seems to be quite unavoidable, especially when describing consequences to users. Example "Clicking this button will sign you out", or "Are you sure you want to delete this message?".

What about in a mobile app, does the advice change?

share|improve this question
4  
You may want to read the following topics: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/12037/you-me-or-joe-soap and ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4348/… –  Bart Gijssens Apr 24 '12 at 10:16
1  
Do you have a more specific question that's not answered by the answers in ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4348/… ? –  Ben Brocka Apr 24 '12 at 13:09
    
Ok I concur that this question is mostly a duplicate to the two mentioned here. –  Patrick Apr 24 '12 at 23:15

4 Answers 4

I find it helps to view user interaction as a conversation. If the website is passing information on to the user, in labels or within text, use "Your", e.g. "Are you sure you want to remove this event from your calendar?"

If you are labelling something where the user will be driving the action (i.e. clicking on a call to action) then use "My", e.g. "My events"

That said, I take the view that it's better to be consistent, so if using a mix of "My" and "Your" will change depending on the context, try to remain neutral (e.g. "Events")

share|improve this answer

In my opinion:

If you're presenting information that the company/website is storing/managing for the user, then I'd choose "YOUR". Examples: Shipping, Billing, Order History, etc.

If you're presenting information that the user is storing/managing themselves via your company/website, then use "MY". Examples: Photo Albums, Music Collections, Inboxes, etc.

The reason I feel this works is because "Your" sounds like something the website/company is handling for the user. "Here is your account information." Whereas, "My" reads like this is something the user is interacting with and managing on their own, perhaps something they wouldn't want to feel was being touched by the company. "I'm going to edit my photo album".

All in all, it's one of those things that probably doesn't matter much in most cases. Just know that one carries slightly more a connotation that your website/company is more involved than the other.

EDIT: @msanford brings up another good point.. Always consider dropping "My" or "Your" entirely. It may even help usability in some cases.

share|improve this answer
2  
Somewhat unrelated but in that vein, I've always hated that I have to navigate the Windows filesystem that way: I hit d to head to My Documents, only to remember that it's m, just like all the other folders. –  msanford Apr 24 '12 at 18:09
1  
I've never liked the "My Documents" thing, either, personally. It's on my computer, of course they're "My" documents! Haha. –  blesh Apr 24 '12 at 18:19
    
+1 And regarding your edit, the folder hierarchy is almost certainly driven by marketing guys, rather than by UX designers. –  msanford Apr 24 '12 at 19:06

In the specific case of apps, the design guide has this to say:

Talk directly to the reader using second person ("you").

It gives examples too. If you're designing for Android alone, fitting in with the platform usually trumps a personal preference for first or second person.

Its page about settings echoes this, in slightly more conceptual detail:

If you must refer to the user, do so in the second person ("you") rather than the first person ("I"). Android speaks to users, not on behalf of them.

share|improve this answer

I like the distinction above, although I've always thought of it in terms of personal (my) and public (your).

Whichever you choose, apply it consistently.

See http://www.designingsocialinterfaces.com/patterns/Your_vs._My for more

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.