“Truncation is not a content strategy” — Karen McGrane

It would really help if builders of tech could pay attention to how text, especially truncation, affects the user’s productivity and wayfinding.

A row of cards where the titles are indistinguishable from one another because they're truncated.

Maybe it’s fine when grids of cards have other distinguishing features such as an image, or allow for other views such as tables or lists. It’s not really an excuse for being unclear communicators of important reference information though.

But this goes beyond the interface. Especially in app-centric contexts, what gets chosen as page titles — which are shown in browser window or tab titles — has become an afterthought. Accompanying the example above, the tab titles only show the general project name even when browsing the specific card.

Maybe its creators assumed that since it’s an “app”, it’s more of a concern for non-apps. Still a flimsy excuse.

People are trying to find the right box, but they all say the same thing.

Aren’t these elements supposed to be labels so that users know what they’re interacting with? Doesn’t that mean they failed to achieve their purpose and might as well disappear?

“The idea is that just clipping off text programmatically is a sledgehammer, and avoids the kind of real thinking and planning that makes for good experiences.”
Chris Coyier

So many proudly claim attention to detail in their design and code tackling ~really difficult problems~, and yet the way they treat real-world content somehow gets a pass.

Karen McGrane gave her iconic quote as early as 2011. Why has it become all but a meme like nothing can be done about it?

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Design × code × words for a better web,
made in the Philippines by Sophia Lucero.