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iOS 7 Design Resources iOS Human Interface Guidelines

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Terminology and Wording

Every word you display in an app is part of a conversation you have with users. Use this conversation as an opportunity to provide clarity and to help people feel comfortable in your app.

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Settings is an essential app for all users, so it uses simple, direct language to describe what users can do. For example, Settings > Do Not Disturb explains the effects of various options without using technical jargon that might be difficult for unsophisticated users to understand.

Use terminology that you’re sure your users understand. Use what you know about your users to determine whether the words and phrases you plan to use are appropriate. For example, technical jargon is rarely helpful in an app aimed at unsophisticated users, but in an app designed for technically savvy users, it might be appreciated.

Use a tone that’s informal and friendly, but not too familiar. You want to avoid being stilted or too formal, but you don’t want to risk sounding falsely jovial or patronizing. Remember that users are likely to read the text in your UI many times, and what might seem clever at first can become irritating when repeated.

Think like a newspaper editor, and watch out for redundant or unnecessary words. When your UI text is short and direct, users can absorb it quickly and easily. Identify the most important information, express it concisely, and display it prominently so that people don’t have to read too many words to find what they’re looking for or to figure out what to do next.

Give controls short labels or use well-understood icons. People should be able to tell at a glance what a control does.

Take care to be accurate when describing dates. It’s often appropriate to use friendly terms such as today and tomorrow when you display date information in your UI. But it can be confusing if you don’t account for the user’s current locale. For example, consider an event that starts just before midnight. To users in the same time zone, the event starts today, but to users in an earlier time zone, the same event may have started yesterday.

Make the most of the opportunity to communicate with potential users by writing a great App Store description. In addition to describing your app accurately and highlighting the qualities you think people are most likely to appreciate, be sure to:

  • Correct all spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Although such errors don’t bother everyone, in some people they can create a negative impression of your app’s quality.

  • Keep all-capital words to a minimum. Occasional all-capital words help draw people’s attention, but when an entire passage is capitalized, it’s difficult to read and it can be interpreted as shouting.

  • Consider describing specific bug fixes. If a new version of your app contains bug fixes that customers have been waiting for, it can be a good idea to mention this in your description.