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November 16, 2016, 2:33 pm - James Farrer

If you're building a self-service website, when dealing with the stuff relating to the user, you should most definitely use "Your" not "My".

I've done a lot of work in the self-service side of ITSM over the years. Much of this has been with ServiceNow as the environment. I've also dabbled in various levels of web development and interface design. A very common mistake and point of argument is that the menu link should be "My [stuff]". I'm not sure where this got started but I'm guessing it has something to do with wanting to make people feel at home and in control of the situation when dealing with a website. Either that or someone was lazy and just not thinking things through.

When I am dealing with a website me, my stuff, my computer, etc. is on my side of the network connection. The company, website, forms, information, etc. is another entity that I am having a dialog with. 

Flip that around and as a website developer I'm creating the dialog between the organization or company I represent and the end user. This means that when I'm giving instructions I will say "Here's what you need to do..." and anything that discusses the organizations thoughts, interests, etc. should take a first person narrative of "we", "us", "our", or in the case of a personal blog or something like that, "I", "me", and "my". 

I ran into a page today where I realized there was a sentence explaining how something works with "you can go to...and this is where you'll find...". Right below that there was a block label "My Approvals" where the approvals of the end user, not the organization, can be found. It seems like a pretty minor thing and enough websites have flip-flopped with these that most people aren't going to think too much of it but somewhere in the back of their mind something is going to be saying "hey, something is not quite right here". 

As an example of a site that has done this the right way, check out Amazon and their numerous links to "Your Account", "Your Orders", etc.

On a somewhat related note, I've also heard discussions on what form to put documentation for a system into. Should it be first person? Or perhaps an awkward neutral set of instructions that's cold and strictly business? This one often isn't quite as straight forward but I always appreciate the information that's written as more of an honest dialog that clearly articulates who is talking and who is listening. Making things a little more personal in a formal business world can often ease a little stress of a situation since it's just more natural.

So to sum it all up, here is my post that will hopefully persuade you to make your sites better at telling me when there is stuff relating to me with a link titled "Your stuff". Just to be as clear as mud.

 


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