Product Design – The User-Centric Language

I’ve stumbled on this interesting post: about the User-Centric Language (UCL). As soon as I’ve read the first lines I was already able to find a lot of common use-cases with the fintech scenario.

Applying a User-Centric Language instead of the technical jargon is one of the biggest challenges a designer has to face, while is providing fintech products.

Especially in the “retail bank” (click here if you want to know what a retail bank is) world, the issue is related not only to the technical naming convention such as:

  • the product names, most of those names are not easy to understand for the customers (eg mortgage vs loan)
  • the investment product names, it is a matter of fact that this is a very complex topic for users without a financial background (eg hedge funds)
  • the legacy with the English words, very often some words are not properly translated to the actual user mother tongue. This could be a severe issue especially when it comes to pushing self-service products
  • the unfriendly form control labels, it is a matter of fact that is the design team is not involved in the production process and if the product is not tested with real users a lot of labels will be not precise and not user-friendly (eg I’ve found a label saying “number of the entitled children” I’ve asked around to some colleagues and I’ve not received a clear answer)

Those 4 topics very often reflect how the bank sees and perceives its own products. To give you a better angle on what I’m talking about, I’ve found this example of an Investment Calculator in the UBS website

The User-Centric Language


This feature should provide a high-level idea of what will happen by investing a certain amount of money.
I believe that the
On the left side, the web form provides some figures to enter and on the right, we have the outcome, in terms of numbers and chart, based on some “magic” calculations that happen in the background.


If I scan to the last field of the web form “Annual Increase in value” I am already lost.
The label says “value” but the field shows the percentage, as a human, 1’000 US dollars is a value for me, I’m struggling to perceive that 1.15% is a value.

On the right side, after the chart is shown, the figures on the top are completely unfamiliar to me.
I can figure out what is the difference between “value of your investment after 5 years” and what is “value of your investment after saving account interest” but I am completely lost when it comes to understanding “value after inflation“, two different values with the same labels.
My gut feeling is that the most important value is CHF 2’597 just because of the size of the text but the rest of the figures are just confusing me.
I cannot really understand at the end of the 5 years what will be the amount I will receive on top of my investment!


In the post ( written by Alana Schroeder is very well described why the level of the User-Centric Language is very low:

  • companies use feature-laden language to describe their products and services instead of talking about how these products and features benefit customers;
  • websites use nomenclature on navigation menus that’s recognized by internal audiences but not external ones;
  • navigation menus use an audience-based navigation scheme—confusing, because not all users on your website know or realize what audience they fall into—rather than a task-based one;

As usual, there are some quick-wins that can provide a boost to the overall User-Centric Language:

  • Involve the designers since the early stages of the project to be sure that the “human side” of the problem is on the team radar
  • Check the most used keywords for the environment you’re working on. I find very useful to check the keyword density on Twitter
  • Test the User Interface with real users to double-check if they understand all the text provided

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