About me

Get new posts by email.

About me

‘User-friendly front door’

I recently read a corporate document that promised the creation of ‘a user-friendly front door.’

I’m part of the intended audience, but I can’t explain what the sentence was trying to communicate. I don’t know whether the ‘front door’ is a website, a phone line, a physical location, a team of people, some combination of the above, or something different altogether. It is, apparently, to be an automatic door: it will be ‘using automation to make processes more efficient’.

I enjoyed the delicious irony of the authors failing to communicate while, at the same time, promising to be ‘user-friendly.’ I enjoyed the mixed metaphor of ‘automation’ making ‘a door’ ‘more efficient’. And, most of all, I enjoyed the fundamental absurdity of a ‘user-friendly’ ‘door’.

I was reminded—as I often am—of this from Jeanette Winterson’s 12 Bytes:

When institutional content tries to be more user-friendly, we get marketing-speak clichés like: stakeholders, bad actors, road maps, blue-sky thinking, low-hanging fruit, facilitators, roll-out … Conferences are the worst. I have been to some of them. By the afternoon I am sweating under the mental pressure of translating non-language. We need writers involved – and we need language that speaks to people. This isn’t about dumbing down, it’s about doing what writers do well – finding a clear, precise, everyday language that goes beyond utility, without jargon, with beauty.

The image at the top of this post was generated by DALL·E 3. I note with wry amusement that the AI conception of a ‘user-friendly front door’ has a knob on the left and a handle on the right, making it entirely unclear as to which way the door opens.

This post was filed under: Technology, .

Recently published posts

Random posts from the archive

The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. Information about cookies and the handling of emails submitted for the 'new posts by email' service can be found in the privacy policy. This site uses affiliate links: if you buy something via a link on this site, I might get a small percentage in commission. Here's hoping.