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?


4 Answers 4


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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 18:09
  • 2
    I've never liked the "My Documents" thing, either, personally. It's on my computer, of course they're "My" documents! Haha.
    – blesh
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 18:19
  • +1 And regarding your edit, the folder hierarchy is almost certainly driven by marketing guys, rather than by UX designers.
    – msanford
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 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.


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")


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

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