Interface Writing: Code for Humans

Do you want a database solution that users love?  Writing clear, concise, instructions and interactions in every aspect of your interface is the key.  And your discussions with the end users before writing the interface language is just as important as the code underneath. Remember, you are writing for the everyday user, and they will be the final judge of what is useful and what is not.

This article by Nicole Fenton refers to writing for the web, but the advice ports over to database solutions, as well:

When you’re writing for the web, you’re having the same sort of conversation with your readers. You’re telling them to do something or asking them a question. Above all, you want it to make sense and feel natural to them. Our strings have to be useful—not funny—so we need to do the extra work of figuring out what our readers need. That makes it easier to show people around, ask for more of their time, or get them to take a particular action.

In his essay We Have Always Coded, Tim Maly says:

“It is no coincidence that many women have compared weaving code to instructing a child. With both kids and computers, you must carefully think through what you want them to do, and then carefully phrase your commands.”

From a high level, these are my goals when I’m writing strings:

  • Be clear.
  • Be kind.
  • Be careful.
  • Be honest.

Focus on the reader’s needs. Think about the implications of what you’re asking for. Be honest about what you’re doing with the data. That’s extremely important.

Her advice covers five areas, each of which have good advice:


  1. Start with questions.
  2. Be a good tour guide.
  3. Turn your chair.
  4. Show you care.
  5. Write iteratively.

I particularly like the advice to read what you wrote out loud…if it sounds good that way, it’ll probably do just fine with your users.  Read it all and absorb–focus on writing code for humans on your next project!

Source: Nicole Fenton | Interface Writing: Code for Humans

Liked Liked
Need FileMaker Development Help? Or to purchase FileMaker Software?
Contact FM Pro Gurus for help