With the right name, an otherwise complex web feature can be easily understood and digested by users.

Snapchat use of Stories to describe the idea of piecing together different snap videos to tell a story is one example. When logging into StackExchange, we have the option of using OpenID. Today most people in the world never pass a few hours without checking out their Timeline.

With the wrong name, the same feature (arguably), might fail. Does anyone bother checking out their Circles on Google Plus these days? What happened to Instagram Direct?

In naming a new user feature, what are the factors to consider?

  • Isn't one factor to just enquire what someone thinks that the term actually means? One could start, ofcourse, by trying to stay with known concepts; like you mention in your question. Interesting read: happyemergency.tumblr.com/post/70653086564/…
    – Xabre
    Sep 3, 2015 at 9:08
  • Thanks for sharing that article. Helpful! Definitely I would, but even asking around still doesn't seem like an accurate way to gauge how the mass market will perceive it. I think the known concepts methodology might be something. Timeline is a pretty straightforward concept that describe directly the function as it is. Stories, maybe a little. But Circles? Completely confusing, because circles PRIMARILY reference a shape in most cultures today.
    – blurgoon
    Sep 3, 2015 at 11:27

2 Answers 2


A big consideration in naming a new user feature is considering real life idioms/metaphors that will relate to the feature.

Interface metaphors, such as the classic desktop metaphor common in graphical user interfaces (GUIs), leverage users’ existing knowledge of a specific domain to enhance the learnability of its software.


  1. Metaphors Can Put Abstract Concepts in Concrete Terms
  2. Metaphors Create Familiarity
  3. Metaphors Can Trigger Emotions
  4. Metaphors Can Draw the Attention of Users
  5. Metaphors Can Motivate Users into Action


For all those names you mentioned the company used the real life names of the concept they were trying to portray. Facebook Timeline - everybody is familiar with a timeline and how they display a series of events in chronological order. If they called it Facebook Feed it might take people longer to understand that concept. Google+ Circles is a reference to real life social circles, Snapchat Stories is immediately recognizable as a story or report of connected events

  • Good answer. I think Alliteration too is widely used when naming features to make it sound catchy. Sep 16, 2015 at 14:28

When naming a feature, function, or anything of the sort in software, the most important thing you have to consider is clarity and cosiness. The word has to be short and understandable.

That said, naming a feature cannot be considered a success factor. It's the product itself that can conquer minds. The reason why Circles are not mainstream has less to do with the name and more with the product. Google+ in general is not doing good. It's not on a par with Facebook or Twitter.

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