Content obviously plays a huge part in how a UI is perceived. A beautiful UI design with ugly words and phrasing will still be a bad outcome.

I am currently debating if the word 'wanderlust' is too pretentious.

This got me to thinking, is it possible to measure pretentiousness in copy?

  • Might be worth asking over on the English Language stack exchange for some alternatives if you're unsure.
    – sclarke
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 7:39

4 Answers 4


What's wrong with being pretentious? Doesn't that depend on the audience? "Wanderlust" may in fact totally appropriate for whatever the stated goal or business case or audience being served is.

What is driving the question? Does the word strike you as pretentious and perhaps you think the user audience will feel the same way?

In UX I believe it it's more important to characterize creative decisions in terms of how appropriate they are based on what is needed. It's all relative to what the audience or user needs.

The other point I would make is that you can evaluate work on this dimension (let's called it appropriateness) in a way that minimizes bias. For example, the word "pretentious" has a negative connotation so by using it in your question you're already editorializing before you've even collected data.

Make sure you're measuring this relative to the representative audience. It could be the case that you are also the user, which makes your opinion valid, but if not then you'll need to put aside how you feel about words like "wanderlust" and focus instead on whether it's appropriate for the needs of your user audience.


User testing is always good advice, so put your copy in front of users and see how they react.

I would recommend setting aside the idea of pretentiousness and focusing on 1) successful communication and task completion, and 2) user sentiment in general.

Marketers use sentiment analysis to determine positive or negative sentiment around words or statements. That's essentially what you're looking for. Is this copy going to rub users the wrong way, or does it effectively communicate both the specific content and our overall brand voice?

Sentiment analysis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentiment_analysis (I hate to cite Wikipedia but I didn't want to cite some consultancy that's just hawking their sentiment analysis solution, either.)


Yes, it's possible.

Give people (users or anybody) example sentences and ask them to rate it on a scale for pretentiousness.

On a scale of 1 - 10, how pretentious do you find the following sentence: "Discover your wanderlust".

Obviously you'd have to try different variations and sentences to get a reference point.

  • 1
    I don't know if I'd use the word pretentious in framing the question. Something more neutral might yield better results, like capturing participants reactions to similar statements from positive to negative. You might not answer the question of whether or not that word is pretentious, but you'll have some data on how users might react to the content.
    – Refe
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 17:23
  • Refe you're right about that. IT would be too much of a leading question phrased like that. But an example for starters. Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 6:13

"Pretentious" is your bias. The correct course of action for you is to perform focus groups and user studies to understand you users' perception of various words in a set.

Additionally, I would have them submit their own words based on the concept you are seeking to convey. You may gain access to vernacular that you didn't have before which suits your brand/product/idea much better.

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