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Whenever I have been designing interfaces, I always wonder if I should name the button Create, New or Add. I have never decided and stuck with one and would like to get an explanation on what use cases apply to each?

To me it seems that Add would indicate some sort of real life object / data is just being added to the application such as a location. Whereas New would imply a brand new piece of data, an example being a new user group or category.

Create I am not sure on, hence a nice clarification would be appreciated and if I was even remotely close to the actual and perceived meanings in design.

Or should I just stick to one of the keywords throughout the whole application? As to not confuse users.

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Create sounds more suited for something "big", that you create once in a while, like a project. Add feels more suited for a list of things, like when you add a row to a table. New, unlike the first two, is not a verb. So, it can be used along with Create or Add. In any case, try to add the name of the thing you're creating or adding, like Add a new row. –  jgthms Mar 2 at 14:58
@jgthms That makes sense, never thought of it in the big/small way before. Cheers –  SamV Mar 2 at 15:02
If you're going to "insert" something, I'd go with Add (unless you have to actually create the thing you want to insert - then I'd go with Create). –  delete this account Mar 3 at 6:28
Create is awfully similar to Cancel, Clear, and Close when you aren't paying attention. Especially when designers can't come to a consensus over primary buttons being on the left or right. –  harbichidian Mar 4 at 20:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The word New is generally used when you are adding something new to a existing list or creating a new list or object or account. So for example you might use New in conjunction with Create or add to highlight that an new entity is being added or created.

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As Samuel mentioned you might use Add to add an item to an exiting list or collection (example adding rows to an existing table).enter image description here

On the other hand you use the word Create to create a new entity or account or list to which items can be added. As shown below here is an example of using Create to create a new account

enter image description here

Taking the same YouTube example, you would use Add to add a new item to an YouTube playlist

enter image description here

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Create. Use this word when you are about to make a new non-child record. On a listing window or page (we'll call it a view for convenience), there should be a "Create" link that will take the user to a new view where they get to enter all of the record's data. The new view should be entitled with the word Create, and the button to commit should be labeled "Create".

Add. Use this word when you are adding a child record to a parent object on the parent object UI's Edit view. Ideally, the Add link should not take the user to a new view. Popping up a modal dialog for searching for existing children is acceptable (many-to-many relationship). A popup window to also create a new child (one-to-many case) is also fine.

New. This word belongs to a menu among Open, Close, and Save (at least traditionally). You may want to refrain from using this word because it's an adjective, which is better suited for a record's state instead of an action. On a listing, though, you may mark newly-created records if they've just been recently released. This works well with news articles, as CNN does it.

Insert. It's true that databases use this keyword to create a new record. Users don't equate the word insert for creating records. Most people think "insert x between y and z." I refrain using this term for front-end UI.

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If one is using a data model where record ordering is significant, I would think "insert" would be appropriate to indicate that an item should be added at the present "cursor" position (if a record is selected, offer "Insert before" and/or "insert after" unless it will be obvious), while "Add" should add an item at the end, regardless of the cursor position. –  supercat Mar 3 at 2:05
I have yet to see a UI that uses the word "Insert". In this case, I'm accustomed to appending the new record first, and then rearranging the sibling records by drag and drop. Doing this is literally an insert operation, but I never seen the command "Insert" stated explicitly. –  Mickael Caruso Mar 3 at 3:19
@MickaelCaruso In spreadsheet programs it's common for the UI to have "Insert" to add a new row between two other rows. –  Peter Olson Mar 3 at 6:45
@MickaelCaruso: In some interfaces, depending upon the number of items, drag and drop may be unwieldy. Spreadsheets are among applications which benefit from being able to insert things directly (though spreadsheets are two-dimensional, and the facility can be useful with one-dimensional lists as well). Something like a task list could also benefit from such a feature if a task needs to be done immediately before or after some other task, especially if the list of tasks gets a little bigger than the screen (too much bigger, and the UI may need reworking regardless). –  supercat Mar 3 at 14:27
AH. I was thinking I never saw a button that says "Insert". I see on a context menu "Insert Before" and "Insert After". This, I would do, but only in context menus. –  Mickael Caruso Mar 3 at 14:55
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You seem to have answered your question yourself in your question. :-)

When you're clearly adding something to a collection of something, then Add should be used for clarity, "Add item to collection".

Create is for creating something new, "Create new collection".

New is bad, since it isn't a verb, and only nouns are not always clear calls to action so better to avoid them from the beginning.

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