The reason I believe it is important to have an apologetic tone is to ensure you are communicating to the user that, though a mistake has been made and he is interacting with a machine or application in this case, you still respect his action and are humanizing the mistake.
To quote this article from UXMatters:
“You’re going to display your error message ...
My suggestion: never use the word "Cancel" in the default action.
To cancel a subscription, you can, for example, say "Remove Subscription" or "Unsubscribe."
To cancel a download, you can, for example, say "Stop Downloading".
To cancel a setting, you can, for example, say "Revert Settings".
Most of the other answers here seem to be focusing on accessibility, which is fine, but is hardly the point. Screen readers are what? Less than 5% of the market for a general website? The reason "Here" and "Click Here" are bad is because they are useless words. They provide no context. This isn't an accessibility issue; it is a usability issue.
There's an ...
Here's what Facebook does when cancelling a payment subscription (Facebook subscription API).
There's no reliance on Yes/No. There's no misleading use of the word cancel. Clear explanation and buttons that clearly define the impending action.
Then they clearly confirm what just happened.
Skype on the other hand shows what not to do. Much confusion!
The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications is quoted by Business Writing as suggesting:
Restructure the sentence so that the address is not at the end of
Set off the address, like this, with no period (full stop):
Please visit my website at:
However the same site also ...
When links were new (think 1995), designers felt that it was necessarily to let people know that something was a link by saying "here". I'm not sure if it was ever necessary, but it is not necessary now. When people see text formatted as a link, they know it's a link.
Using "here" as the link text gives no context (which is especially bad for screen ...
While Mervin's answer is excellent, I would go beyond saying it is "acceptable" or "preferred". I would say you "must" use an apologetic tone for one very good reason: if the user is making a mistake, it is because the user does not understand the rules or logic of the system. That is not the fault of the user! It is responsibility of the system to ...
I would say that "New" is best in most situations, as it is short and distinct.
A good rule of thumb is to look at the other options you will have in your menu. You want to make scanning fast, so you want to make each option as distinct as possible. Here is a crude example of what I mean:
download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq ...
Trying to give applications personality is one of those things that's just not well thought out. It definitely seems like it's one of those solutions that developers came up with and never user tested.
In a classic UI UX failure, developers came up with the talking paper clip solution in response to this same issue: https://archive.org/details/g4tv.com-...
You can't force them to read something, but you can:
Mitigate the cases where they're instinctively skipping it.
Remove the benefit for those intentionally skipping it.
As Alan Cooper puts it in About Face, you need to "hide the ejector seat lever" and break their flow.
Users who intentionally skip instructions should be held accountable.
"Like" is Facebook's creation and is strongly associated with Facebook. +1 is Google+'s creation and is totally associated with its brand.
Thinking out of the box... It seems your functionality is not exactly the same as "liking". It's more "like & follow". There is no single word for that, so alternatively you could invent your own vocabulary. ...
Log in / out is more technical sounding than sign in / out. That said, I don't think there is any confusion with either one of them. The last time I looked at major sites using log v. sign it was a pretty even split between them. I would opt for sign in / out simply because it is more human speak.
Regarding Join, Register and Sign up. They each have ...
You have to go with the first option (stating that the "username or password is invalid"), and this has nothing to do with security.
Let's say that I usually use JohnGB as my username, but on your service someone else has that username, so I use JohnGB123 instead. Say I've then forgotten my username and I enter JohnGB as my username, but use my correct ...
Ok I might be on to something:
"New" is good for buttons that take the user to a clean "canvas", where the user can add his content.
"Create" is good for buttons that "submit" the user's content or input (either into a database or to some public platform).
In other words, "New" doesn't suggest that you're actually creating anything. It just sets the stage ...
"Please" is common in short instructions, because the alternative sounds too brisk and bossy ("Save the file", "Click the button").
However, I don't like either form of instruction because they don't make clear how the action fits into the user's aims. Rather than an instruction like 'Choose a filename' or even 'Please choose a filename', I'm drawn instead ...
If you feel like jumping the action (click/tap) you can directly say "Select" the ...
Rather than a generic word, I would suggest you try to check what device the person is using and then say "click/tap" appropriate for the platform. But, then come the devices with both, a peripheral device and touch capability, which make this situation awkward-ish. You ...
Taking a step back: Why was this feature made available (visible) to the user in the first place?
If it is a feature not available to a specific user (or user class), hide it.
If it is a premium feature that you'd like to upsell - do so.
History export is a great way to backup your data, but is available on premium accounts only. Get in touch with your ...
Clearly state what they're missing. Chances are there's some good reason ...
Let them know what has happened. Here are some situations with longer, clear example notifications that use proper English grammar:
Only the name changed
The task "foobar" has been successfully renamed to "dummy".
Only the data changed
The task "foobar" has been successfully updated.
The name and the data changed
The task "foobar" has been ...
The fewer words the better, and no words at all are better than negative words.
Don't say why you think there might be a problem, or even that you think there is likely to be a problem. Instead just make it easy for them to contact you in the event that they do happen to come across a problem.
I quite liked an experience I had recently at surfdome where it ...
One aspect of this is accessibility. You don't get any context from the link itself.
You can see further info on wc3: Don't use "click here" as link text
When calling the user to action, use brief but meaningful link text
provides some information when read out of context
explains what the link offers
-doesn't talk about mechanics
The idea of 'click here' being a bad idea originated from data about how people visually scan web pages which show that people don't read online: they skim the page to get the key information. If someone is scanning, 'click here' (particularly if there are lots of them!) links are totally meaningless in isolation: the user has to spend time reading around ...
It is not only a problem with copy/paste. If Thunderbird (among others) receives a plain text message with an URL, it will transform it to a clickable URL, including the end period, as it is valid in an URL. A number of other punctuation characters are also legal, so care must be used.
Tradition in such plain text messages is to surround the URL with < ...
A good error message should:
Let you know what the problem is.
Make you feel like there is something that you can do about it.
Speak like a human, and be a consistent extension of the personality of the rest of the application.
For generic error messages, you can't do much about the first point, but you can do something about the other two.
Do something ...
AP style says "spell out whole numbers below 10, and use figures for 10 and above".
Chicago Manual style says spells out numbers below 100, or as an alternative rule to use AP style instead.
Nielsen Norman Group says, basically, to heck with the old rules; everybody just skims online anyway so use figures for all specific numbers, because people notice ...
Personally I like love which is often represented by an icon of a heart and popular in social media. Then you dont have to write the word love but simply use the heart.
But if you don't like the heart icon, you can always find a synonym from Thesaurus.com:
Priority shouldn't be numbered or substituted with characters. Traditionally they've always been a label to instruct the end user what they represent.
This is what we use. A combination for Color and Label or Icon and Label. For a user with accessibility or someone using a screen reader, the priority is read out as text.
Ideally, there has to be a visual ...
Name the buttons for what they do. If the default is "cancel", then cancel the cancel should be something simple like "Don't cancel".
I know that it's not ideal to use the word 'cancel' in both of them, but it's the clearest option in this unique situation, and clarity is far more important.
Edit: Some good suggestions from the comments below are to ...
If it's clear, say it in the least number of words possible. If there is no confusion, then there is no problem.
"Import image" - clear.
"Create app" - clear.
"Add description" - clear.
For further reading, I suggest the Android Writing Style.