Skip to main content

Buzzwords and overly used phrases are dangerous. We all have words we rely on and overuse, but when it comes to work, we have to be careful they aren’t a crutch. Words that are unknowingly making us lazy or communicate ineffectively.

In highlighting the buzzwords I overuse at work, I hope to achieve two things: to call myself out and to foster more meaningful communication. Apply the same analysis to your own communication at work (and everyday life too) – let me know what your overused design buzzwords are.

The Unclear Buzzword:

I’ve relied on this buzzword when someone providing the right information, or when I’m not prepared to go into detail. It isn’t a bad word necessary, but it isn’t clear – what level are you talking about, and what level are you at?

Instead of using unclear words, define what you are looking for, what the discussion will be, why you aren’t getting what you need and perhaps provide an example of what you are looking for to make things clear.

The Dangerous Buzzword:
‘Best Practice’

‘Best Practice’ wasn’t a word that I used often, but I use it on occasion – and now I realize it is dangerous. This article by InVision article highlighted to me the reasons why it is dangerous: The road to mediocrity is paved in best practices.

‘Best Practice’ is an excuse used by designers without giving the reason behind a decision. A ‘best practice’ is what is best for that project – not a predetermined procedure.

Best practice shouldn’t be confused with requirements, such as accessibility and responsive design. Those are necessities, with set guidelines, not best practice.

The All-Encompassing Buzzword:

Robust means strong, tough, flexible all in one. Or is it? I’m not quite sure. Similar to ‘High-level’ it means everything, while not being clear that it means anything.

It is the word I rely on when I want to say something that sounds impressive, but isn’t too specific. It won’t tie me to a concept, but sounds like I know what I’m doing.

The Overused  Buzzword:

It’s used as a noun, it’s used as a verb, it’s used as an adjective. Stop using it as a reason, an excuse and a crutch.

SEO is about feeding Google what Google wants. Google wants users to get the best results: quality pages with the content they were looking for (and quickly). That’s what makes Google Google.

Google algorithms are getting smarter and smarter. The algorithm knows about keyword stuffing, black hat techniques, whether the page is responsive and UX. It knows more than we know about it (Google is protective and secretive about their algorithms). If it doesn’t already it will soon see through any ‘SEO’ bullshit.

So what is ‘SEO’ then? High-quality content, great design, a beautiful experience and an accessible and understandable website that converts. Can we all understand that and not rely on the term ‘SEO’.

I hope that helped you think about a few nasty words from your vocabulary – as it did mine. What buzzwords do you need to stop using? I’d love to hear them @damianjo on Twitter.