These days, just about everyone says they do user experience (UX). Of course, there’s a problem with these abundant claims of UX expertise: Very few firms actually practice what they preach. They talk about usability, but have never done a single user test. They pay lip service to user-centered design, but never actually talk to users. These are the UX pretenders. They brazenly parrot the latest digital trends in hopes of winning your business.

What would a UX glossary look like for firms of this sort? We imagine it would be simultaneously funny and cringeworthy, a bit like watching an episode of The Office (BBC version).

So we decided to write it.

We’ve created the world’s first ironic UX glossary. Think of it as an offbeat public service announcement, a what-not-to-do. If your agency, web design firm, web app consultant, or UX team believes any of the things on the following list, run.

Run like the wind.

The Misbegotten UX Glossary

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVW X Y Z

A

A/B Test
A pretty darn good grade.

About
The most important page on your website.

Accessibility
Bothersome governmental guidelines that make your site or web application look like they’re from 1991.

Affinity Diagram
Any graphic depiction of status among members of a group. Originated by cliques of middle school girls.

Affordance
The process of removing all user-related activities from the project in order to cut the budget.

Agency
Any group that, for the last two decades, has experienced profound difficulty incorporating the web into their business model.

Agile Development
Created by God on the First Day.

Analytics
Irrelevant numbers that have nothing whatsoever to do with your project.

App (phone, tablet)
New-fangled smart phone dingus made by upstart millennials.

Application (desktop, web)
Online functionality designed with classic client-server overtones, wonderfully snug layout, compact data windows, and enough internal scroll bars to please just about everyone. There can never be too many scroll bars.

Archetype
Something you vaguely remember learning about in Ms. Phelan’s sixth grade English class.

B

Balsamiq
Zesty dressing for a nice gluten-free kale salad.

Branding
See Skinning.

Breadcrumb
An interface widget reflexively inserted into your app or website because that’s just the way it’s done. Uses 10px type-size (or less).

Browser
Every person on the planet, especially Baby Boomers, are expert-level users of this software.

C

Card Sorting
What happens after a game of 52 Pick-Up with your five-year-old.

Click
If you string more than two of these together, users will never, ever reach their destination.

Client-Server
Default model for developing and presenting interactive functionality. Save work (and thought) by quickly transferring layout and interaction to web and even mobile contexts.

CMS
The solution to every last one of your problems. Miracle elixir.

Cognitive Factors
Your enlightened, infallible thoughts.

Cognitive Load
When you are forced to think about how a genuine user responds to your app.

Component
A widget in your template.

Content
Material received from the client hours before launch. Entirely replaces those paragraphs of lorem ipsum. (Synonyms: Copy)

Content Strategy
The mysterious practice of defining just how exhaustive and elaborate the company history page should be.

Copy
The more you make people read this, the happier they will be. Pour it on. (Synonyms: Content)

Conversion
The sudden, powerful realization that SEO firms care more about Google than real people.

Cubicle
Cheerful place where all good things happen. Here, developers strategize UX, create visual layouts, write copy, and approve user interfaces. They also sometimes produce code.

Customers
Completely indistinguishable from end users.

D

Design
A mundane discipline. Everyone with a pulse possesses complete mastery.

Design Thinking
Should this be green? Blue? Perhaps red. My wife likes red.

Digital
Agency euphemism for website.

Discovery
When you finally realize there is no budget to engage users in any way. See Affordance.

E

Easy to Use
When end users find the usability of your user-friendly app usable.

Emotional Design
When clients spontaneously weep at the sight of your brilliant portfolio.

End Users
Programmers.

Engagement
A serious commitment involving a ring. Non-binding in Hollywood.

Error Message
A fatal exception AE has occurred at 0020:CBB11E367 in UXB UMM(A1) + 00018E36. The current application will be terminated.

Estimate
Just make this up and move on with your life.

Ethnography
Field of study that determines why the Irish aren’t overly fond of Italians.

Experience
Use as a prefix for any concept, offering, or process you don’t fully understand or can’t adequately put into words.

Experience Architecture
What happens when you visit postmodern structures like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai or the Guggenheim Museum in Spain.

Experience Design
What happens when your teenage daughter decides to paint her room black.

Experience Map
What happens when Siri suggests you make a right hand turn directly into a lake.

Experience Strategy
What happens during an intense game of laser tag.

Eye Tracking
Cite this whenever justifying layout or design to your client. The details are unimportant.

F

Field Research
Ignore this. As a rule, no one does it.

Findability
Why employee bios must always be positioned dominantly on websites.

Fitts’ Law
You are not 25 and can no longer squeeze into those jeans.

Flat
Not skeuomorphic.

Focus Group
The best way to find out anything.

Fold
An imaginary line above which you must stay lest you break your mother’s back.

Form
The part of your site or app that receives the least planning, attention, or requirements. Everyone knows forms are supposed to be awful.

G

Gestalt
Gesundheit.

Graphic Design
Incorrect spelling of graphics design or graphical design.

Gray-Boxing
When a designer makes wireframes visually appealing.

GUI
The thing that makes your app pretty.

H

Hamburger
How you find anything on a phone.

Help
Completely unhelpful.

Heuristic
Any over-the-counter medicine that fights nasal congestion.

Hick’s Law
Postbellum South Carolina statute requiring all residents to own firearms but not shoes.

Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
We’re sorry Dave, but Hal just can’t do that.

Human Factors
What your client’s kid thinks of your interface. This opinion is massively influential.

I

Idiot Proof
Something made precisely as the designer wanted in the first place.

Information Architecture (IA)
Can’t design? Can’t program? Have we got a job for you.

Information Design
The process of adding pie charts and bar graphs to PowerPoint.

Interaction Design (iXD)
If the supermarket is all out of interactive design, this kind of design will do nicely.

Interactive
The new New Media. The old Digital.

Interactive Design
The process of turning an ad agency campaign into a website.

Iterate
What you do the day before launch when the CEO finally reviews the project.

Interface
The thing you tweak after the programmers have finished making it.

Intuitive
The CEO likes it.

J

JAD Session
Sophisticated, documented sessions held between project stakeholders and users in which no actual users participate.

K

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Advertising or web design awards.

L

Look and Feel
How your client describes the sum of everything you do.

M

Mental Model
Lisa, created by Gary and Wyatt in Weird Science.

Metrics
Fabricated goals or statistics.

Mobile
Repeat this word eleventy times when seeking funding for your next project.

Mobile First
The thing you do last.

Mood Board
Procrastination via collage.

MUI
Ancient acronym for Multi-Media User Interface. Hoping for a comeback using Mobile.

Multi-Media
Term once used by traditional designers to describe anything not made of paper.

N

Napkin Sketch
Fight for this original idea no matter what you learn later.

New Media
Slightly newer than old media.

O

Observation (User)
Strictly-speaking, unnecessary. See user research and field research.

P

Persona
Complex, demographic user profile. Completely made up or picked from a pre-made inventory. Includes vital data like favorite color, pet’s name, and least favorite household chore.

Phone Number
Always put this at the top of your website. Always. The longer the sales cycle, the larger the number.

Portal
The entrance to a new dimension in space-time. Always includes stock quotes and weather.

Prototype (Paper)
Napkin sketch of an app.

Proximity (Law of)
Gravitational attraction that draws all UI elements together in a white space-destroying clump.

Purpose
Getting repeat visits to your site or web app. See SEO.

Q

Quality Assurance Testing
Purely optional.

Qualitative Testing
A type of usability testing completely different from quantitative testing.

Quantitative Testing
A type of usability testing completely different from qualitative testing.

R

Read (Reading)
People really, really want to do this. Mission statements and long FAQs are necessary to give users every piece of information they need. See Copy.

Real People
Nameless, faceless users.

Requirements
An abstract concept that rarely makes its way into real-world practice. Often annoyingly and persistently requested midway through development.

Responsive
A politician’s demeanor after he or she receives a sizeable donation but before being asked for a favor.

RFP
Your one chance to impress a potential client with an avalanche of free work.

RFP Response
The primary vehicle that delivers free consulting. Ensures you can lasso the moon in under six weeks.

R.O.I.
Really Old Interface

S

Scanability
The ability of a site or app to draw the eye to indispensable promotional content.

Scenario
The A-Team’s latest predicament. Solved by Hannibal Smith’s elaborately implausible plan.

Scroll (Scrolling)
Expressly forbidden by the Interactive Perception Act of 1994. Avoid at all costs. Protect the fold at all costs.

SEO
The driving force behind every single thing you do. Vastly more important than strategy, users, or usability.

Shell
Your gloriously brilliant, completely unique design. It consists of a logo, banner, footer, navigation bar and stock photo.

Short-Term Memory
The inability for the human brain to… um, something or other.

Site Map
A flowchart. Don’t make this—your client has it covered.

Skeuomorphic
Not flat.

Skin
A beautiful, sublime variant of an interface shell.

Skinning
See Branding.

T

Task
Any onerous, tedious assignment given to you by the damned project manager.

Tap-able
Your favorite song from high school, or “The Room Where It Happens” from Hamilton: The Musical.

Taxonomy
The name of your graphic designer’s favorite band.

Template
A term that means something different to every single member of your project team, every piece of software you’ve ever licensed, every project you’ve ever done, and every client you’ve ever had.

Touch Targets
First, second, or third base, respectively.

Training
The wondrous cure-all for every single usability problem.

U

UI
UX

Usability
Use this term repeatedly on your firm’s site. Its meaning, implication, process, and actual value are irrelevant.

Usability Engineering
Making your app conform to the whims of the client.

Usable
It works.

Use Case
The script describing how users MUST use your web app. It ensures perfect, flawless usability.

Users
Idiots. Morons, all.

User Centered Design (UCD)
Designer Centered Design

User Error
The reason behind every problem with your digital product.

User Experience (UX)
Every agency, boutique, shop, consultancy, internal group, or autonomous collective does this. Everyone.

User Friendly
Any pretty website.

User Interface
Something created by programmers, now ready for your design and content.

User Journey
Descent into expletive-laden, irrational hysterics as people attempt to reset their password for your app.

User Research
Asking the designer or developer in the adjoining cubicle if they like your latest interface widget.

User Test (Usability Test)
Confirms that people are mortifyingly stupid and are unable to comprehend your genius.

UX
UI

V

Visual Design
The array of multiple design concepts delivered with the project proposal or RFP.

Visually Appealing
The programmers think it looks pretty.

W

Waterfall
The reality of your agile process.

Web App
Your client server or desktop software application transferred, virtually unchanged, to the web.

Web Design
The process of creating a kick-ass shell that houses miscellaneous content.

Website
Something that can be made in minutes by nearly anyone. Usually free.

White Space
A waste of perfectly good pixels.

Widget
Reusable functionality that fits seamlessly into ANY context. Employ whenever thinking about the needs of real people is too difficult.

Wireframe
Glorified, pretentious napkin sketch.

 
Oh, the Irony.
 
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About truematter

Our team has been doing the real work of user experience since the earliest days of the commercial web. We’re out to make your digital products a whole lot better.

And we don’t even need a glossary to do it.

 
 
Author: @ExperienceDean
Contributors: @baileysensword, Cian O’Conner.