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  • Writer's pictureJakob Nielsen

UX Buzzwords Visit Planet Honest

Summary: A list of 57 overused buzzwords about user experience and user interface design, together with both their official definitions and what they often mean in real life.

 

I unabashedly stole this idea from Allie K. Miller: ask ChatGPT to explain overused buzzwords as if we lived on “Planet Honest.” Here’s what it gave me, in terms of overused buzzwords about UX and UI. (I realize that “UX/UI” is an overused term in its own right, but I asked for buzzwords about both acronyms to get broader coverage.)


“Ladies and Gentlemen: we are approaching Planet Honest. Hope you enjoy your vacation in this place where everything is exactly as it seems.” (Midjourney)


  • The table shows the 57 top overused buzzwords in the first column, as chosen by ChatGPT.

  • The second column is ChatGPT’s ultra-short explanation of each buzzword, aiming to summarize the standard, or intended, meaning of each term.

  • The third column contains the revealing “Planet Honest” descriptions that explain what each term means in practice, if we have to be honest.

 

Buzzword

Standard Definition

Planet Honest Description

Accessibility

Usable by all, including disabled

More about compliance than genuine usability

Actionable Insights

Useful findings from data

Rarely as clear or as useful as promised

Aesthetic

Pertaining to visual beauty

Overused to justify pretty over practical

Agile

Methodology for rapid development

Excuse for chaotic work processes

Bandwidth

Capacity to handle work

Overused to excuse delays or lack of responsiveness

Best Practices

Highly recommended methods

Often outdated or not universally applicable

Big Data

Large datasets reveal patterns

Often just a lot of data, little insight

Bootstrap

Start something with minimal resources

Often a glorified term for underfunded

Call to Action

Prompts user to take action

Overwhelmingly everywhere, often pushy

Color Palette

Scheme of colors used

Often too rigidly adhered to

Conversion Rate

Percentage of user desired actions

Obsessively tracked but often manipulated

Dark Mode

Dark-themed user interface

Trendy but sometimes just a battery saver

Deep Dive

Thorough examination

Usually just a longer meeting than necessary

Empathy

Understanding users' feelings, needs

Often feigned to impress stakeholders

End-to-End

Covering all process stages

Seldom truly covers every step

Engaging

Captures and holds attention

Usually means just visually appealing

Figma

UI design and prototyping tool

The new must-use, trendy software

Flat Design

No shadows, textures, gradients

Often too simplistic, lacks depth

Gamification

Applying game elements to apps

Makes boring tasks superficially interesting

Grid System

Structure for layout precision

Rigorously used until it's suffocating creativity

Hamburger Menu

Three-line menu icon

Ubiquitous to the point of user annoyance

Hero Image

Large banner image

Overused to the point of cliché

High Fidelity

Detailed, close to final design

Often a premature commitment to a design

Holistic

Considering the whole system

Used to describe vague, all-encompassing strategies

Infinite Scroll

Never-ending page content

Leads to endless distractions

Innovation

Something new and effective

Often just old wine in new bottles

Intuitive

Easy to understand and use

Usually means missing user manual

Iterative

Process improving in cycles

Often an excuse for releasing unfinished products

Journey Mapping

Visualizing user's experience

Rarely actionable, often just a pretty picture

Leverage

Use something to maximum advantage

Mostly means exploiting whatever's available

Low-Hanging Fruit

Easy tasks to accomplish first

Often underestimates the complexity of "easy" tasks

Material Design

Visual language from Google

Becoming the generic face of apps

Microinteractions

Small, interactive design elements

Overemphasized for minor delights

Minimalist

Simple, clean design focus

Sometimes just an excuse for lack of features

Mockup

Model of final design

Confused with prototype, misleads expectations

Mood Board

Collection of style inspiration

Often a procrastination tool rather than useful

Onboarding

Introduction for new users

Overly long, tests user patience

Pain Points

User problems needing solutions

Overdramatized to push solutions

Parallax Scrolling

Background moves at slow rate

Gimmicky and often irrelevant to user experience

Persona

Fictional users guide design

Often overly stereotyped, not representative

Pixel Perfect

Extremely precise design alignment

Obsessive detail that users never notice

Responsive

Adapts to user's screen size

Expected standard, nothing special anymore

Responsive Design

Works on any device smoothly

Expected standard, not a perk

Scalability

Ability to grow without limits

Seldom as seamless as claimed

Seamless

Transition without interruption

Rarely as smooth as advertised

Skeuomorphism

Digital objects mimic real life

Outdated, though sometimes nostalgic

Splash Screen

Initial screen of app

Annoying barrier to app content

Storytelling

Using narrative for engagement

Sometimes just a way to sugarcoat data

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

Scale without quality loss

Overused without considering performance

Synergy

Combined efforts create value

Overused in meetings to sound smart

Touchpoint

User interaction moments

Used to make mundane interactions sound strategic

Typography

Art of arranging type

Obsessed over but often illegibly small

User Flow

Path taken by user on site/app

Simplified to the point of unrealistic

User-Centered Design

Design focusing on user needs

Overpromised, underdelivers on actual needs

White Space

Empty, unmarked design space

Sometimes there's just too much emptiness

Wireframe

Low-detail outline of interface

Often too rigid, limits early creativity

 

I did not edit a single one of these descriptions, whether the “standard” (supposed) meaning of each buzzword or the “Planet Honest” description. Honest: everything is reproduced here exactly as it was generated by ChatGPT from my prompt.


Everything that AI knows, it learned by reading the Internet. Thus, the “honest” descriptions are derived from the collective complaints of thousands of UX practitioners writing blog articles, X posts, and so forth about how these buzzwords worked for them in their projects.


I have to say that the Planet Honest versions ring true. I have never liked trendy buzzwords, partly because they are often just so much vocabulary inflation and don’t add much compared to older terminology.


You can hide a lot under a thick layer of fancy words, but clarity wins the day.


Welcome to Planet Honest. You should visit more often. (Ideogram)


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