My History, My Profile, My Reports, My I'm confused

28 May 2007 - 4:17pm
7 years ago
7 replies
385 reads
Pawson, Mark
2007

I looked at a wireframe I created on Friday in confusion this morning.
What was I thinking with all those "My" tabs and what is the difference
between them? Has anyone else got comments or user research on such
Names in a web application?
In my case the app's main functions are to allow the user to search a
Engineering Parts and Specification document database, list parts found,
compare parts and export information. The idea of My Profile was to be
where the user could customize the Home page to only see content of
interest based on their industry, i.e. I'm assuming an Electrical
Engineer would have no interest in conferences, whitepapers, peer blog
links, or specification documents for the construction industry. This
page can also be used to choose specific databases to search against.
Today this is the only tab name that I still like.
My Reports are saved searches so why not call the tab that, or put this
content on the My Profile page? And My History is the most recently
viewed parts or spec docs up to the last 30 days. Again I am thinking
why not call the tab what it is - Recently Viewed. One of our apps had
done this and I'm feeling guilty because I initially panned this name
saying they should standardize on My History.

Mark Pawson

Comments

28 May 2007 - 4:38pm
Dan Saffer
2003

If nothing else, adding "My" to items in a menu is more cognitively
challenging.

This:

My Reports
My Profile
My History

is much harder to scan than this:

Reports
Profile
History

Dan Saffer
Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

28 May 2007 - 4:45pm
cherylkimble
2005

hey dan,

any research behind that? just want to be able to cite something if
questioned by the biz...

At 2:38 PM -0700 5/28/07, Dan Saffer wrote:
>If nothing else, adding "My" to items in a menu is more cognitively
>challenging.
>
>This:
>
>My Reports
>My Profile
>My History
>
>is much harder to scan than this:
>
>Reports
>Profile
>History

28 May 2007 - 5:20pm
Anne Hjortshoj
2007

Ask the biz what "my" refers to. Is "my" the application? Is "my" the user?

If a program starts talking to me, and calls something "my," (and I
had no experience of this usage on the internet) I would assume that
whatever is being referred to doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the
persona talking to me.

Try rounding up all the "my" tabbage and throwing it together in a
separate nav as a toolbox sort o' thing (same level as the other tabs,
but clearly separate). I think you'll find that there's no need to
resort to labeling things "My --------" if it's clear that all those
things pertain to user-managed information just by virtue of
placement/grouping.

-Anne

On 5/28/07, cheryl kimble <cheryl at marginalized.com> wrote:
> hey dan,
>
> any research behind that? just want to be able to cite something if
> questioned by the biz...
>
>
>
> At 2:38 PM -0700 5/28/07, Dan Saffer wrote:
> >If nothing else, adding "My" to items in a menu is more cognitively
> >challenging.
> >
> >This:
> >
> >My Reports
> >My Profile
> >My History
> >
> >is much harder to scan than this:
> >
> >Reports
> >Profile
> >History
> ________________________________________________________________
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--
Anne Hjortshoj | anne.hj at gmail.com

28 May 2007 - 5:55pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Here's an IxDA thread from February exploring the use of "My"
naming. Lots of examples and counter-examples.

Use of "Your" or "My" in Personalized Web Application Design
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=14682

Regarding scannable lists, cheryl kimble wrote:
> any research behind that?

Like most typographic principles, I think this is more the result of
centuries of accumulated intuition than peer-reviewed research. You
want the data-carrying portion of the items in a list to be in a
visually prominent (and thus scannable) location. In a left-aligned
list, with left-to-right reading languages, that location is the left
edge of each line. But in this case, "My" is in that location and
doesn't give you any differentiating information at all--every line
has it. The eye has to "jump" over it to get to the part of the
term that's relevant for making a decision.

If pressed, you might reference the observation that Tufte makes in
Envisioning Information when discussing the chart about John Gotti
and the visual prominence of certain locations in a list. He's
talking about the top and bottom of a list, but you can extrapolate
the general principle that "edges" are prominent locations. You
could also reference his principle "Erase redundant data-ink, within
reason" from Visual Display of Quantitative Information. But anyone
who demands actual research probably won't buy that either.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=16687

28 May 2007 - 6:31pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

"Users tended to dislike use of "my" for anything that they had not
actively specified. So if the user had actively changed lists, or
bookmarks they were fine with My Lists and My Bookmarks. Whereas when
the system made a recommendation for things like articles or movies,
saying My Movies, or My Must Read List would not meet their
expectations."

Erik: Did this research indicate that users actually benefitted from
the use of "My"? Did including it actually help them understand what
was going on, or was it just that people understood "My" less when
they had not actively specified what should fall under that label?

I have a hard time believing "My" helps at all. I mean, it *sounds*
like it would be helpful, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that
users understand an application any more because of its inclusion. If
your research shows that it does, I'm interested in hearing about it.

Thanks.

-r-

28 May 2007 - 7:49pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On May 28, 2007, at 2:45 PM, cheryl kimble wrote:

> hey dan,
>
> any research behind that? just want to be able to cite something if
> questioned by the biz...
>

Basically what Jeff said, but I am also remembering sitting through a
presentation on menu items at an IA Summit a few years back and
vaguely recall this being a topic in there.

Anyone else recall? A Google search hasn't refreshed my memory.

Dan

28 May 2007 - 8:27pm
Erik Gibb
2007

Hi Robert,

As Anne noted below, there are places where the context is obvious, and my gut tells me that it probably requires a slightly higher cognitive load.

It was perceived as simple and helpful in situations where it could be potentially confusing?e.g, when the system is recommending things that are very similar to things on which the user has acted. We also cue a user when they might benefit from logging in?e.g., "Log in to view My [saved stuff]."

Thanks,
Erik

Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:
>"Users tended to dislike use of "my" for anything that they had not
>actively specified. So if the user had actively changed lists, or
>bookmarks they were fine with My Lists and My Bookmarks. Whereas when
>the system made a recommendation for things like articles or movies,
>saying My Movies, or My Must Read List would not meet their
>expectations."
>
>Erik: Did this research indicate that users actually benefitted from
>the use of "My"? Did including it actually help them understand what
>was going on, or was it just that people understood "My" less when
>they had not actively specified what should fall under that label?
>
>I have a hard time believing "My" helps at all. I mean, it *sounds*
>like it would be helpful, but I haven't seen anything to indicate that
>users understand an application any more because of its inclusion. If
>your research shows that it does, I'm interested in hearing about it.

And Anne Hjortshoj wrote:
>Try rounding up all the "my" tabbage and throwing it together in a
>separate nav as a toolbox sort o' thing (same level as the other tabs,
>but clearly separate). I think you'll find that there's no need to
>resort to labeling things "My --------" if it's clear that all those
>things pertain to user-managed information just by virtue of
>placement/grouping.

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