Style guide Language

Language

General style for spoken prompts, display prompts, text in visuals, and chips.

Focus on the user.

Make the user the center of attention, not your persona. User-focused text keeps the conversation on track. It's more crisp and to-the-point.

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop). User input: Place order. Spoken prompt: You’re all set. Those roses will be on their way soon. Do you need any other flowers today? Display prompt: Those roses will ship soon. Do you need any other flowers today? Visual: Rich receipt card showing order details. Chips: Yes, No I’m done, Change it.

Do.

Focus on the user.

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop). User input: Place order. Spoken prompt: I placed your order, and I’ll be shipping those roses for you as soon as possible. Do you want me to order any other flowers for you today? Display prompt: I placed your order. Do you want me to order any other flowers today? Visual: Rich receipt card showing order details. Chips: Yes, No I’m done, Change it.

Don’t.

Don't place unnecessary focus on the persona.

Don't launch into monologues.

Be informative, but keep responses concise. Let users take their turn. Don’t go into heavy-handed details unless the user will clearly benefit from it.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). Spoken prompt: Ok, I found 4 sections with available spots for 2 people sitting together: Sections 211, 212, 215, and 218. Do you want to hear more about one of those? User input: Yeah, the one in section 211. New turn. Spoken prompt: Ok, in section 211, row 14, seats 7 and 8 are available. You can purchase them for $130 each. Do you want to get these?

Do.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). Spoken prompt: Ok, I found 4 sections with open seats. Section 211, row 14, has 2 open spots: seats 7 and 8. You can purchase these for $130 each. Section 212, row 7, has 2 open spots: seats 15 and 16. You can purchase these for $130 each. Section 215, row 2, has 2 open spots: seats 9 and 10. You can purchase these for $160 each. Section 218, row 5, has 2 open spots: seats 4 and 5. You can purchase these for $150 each. Which would you like?

Don’t.

Use short, simple words.

Plain and simple language has the broadest appeal, making it accessible to people of all backgrounds.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). User input: Place order. Spoken prompt: You’re all set. Look for the tickets in your email later today. Now, are there any other events you’re interested in?

Do.

Use everyday language and shorter terms that are accessible to all reading levels.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). User input: Place order. Spoken prompt: The transaction you requested has been completed. You will receive electronic copies of your tickets within the next 6 hours. Now, would you like to continue browsing upcoming events?

Don’t.

Avoid technical jargon and sophisticated language.

Avoid jargon and legalese.

Be mindful of the terminology you’re using, and watch for specialized expressions that can elicit misunderstanding and mistrust. Types of content that are especially prone to jargon include: sign-up flows, error messages, and descriptions of settings.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). Spoken prompt: To get tickets faster next time, do you want to sign up to be an Ibento member? Display prompt: To get tickets faster next time, do you want to sign up to be an Ibento member?

Do.

Use common terminology that is familiar to most people (like "sign up as a member").

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). Spoken prompt: To get tickets faster next time, do you want to enable the streamlined identity experience? Display prompt: To get tickets faster next time, do you want to enable the streamlined identity experience?

Don’t.

Don’t use ambiguous or jargon-specific terms (like "streamlined identity experience").

Randomize prompts when appropriate.

Craft a variety of responses just like a person would. This makes the conversation feel more natural and keeps the experience from getting stale.

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop). User input: Add some white peonies. Spoken prompt: Alright, I’ve added white peonies to your bouquet. Anything else? New turn. User input: How about some pink carnations? Spoken prompt: Got it. Pink carnations. Will that be all? New turn. User input: Can you add a few yellow roses? Spoken prompt: Yellow roses. Sure. Do you want any other flowers?

Do.

For added variety, mix up similar responses.

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop). User input: Add some white peonies. Spoken prompt: Alright, I’ve added white peonies to your bouquet. Anything else? New turn. User input: How about some pink carnations? Spoken prompt: Alright, I’ve added pink carnations to your bouquet. Anything else? New turn. User input: Can you add a few yellow roses? Spoken prompt: Alright, I’ve added yellow roses to your bouquet. Anything else?

Don’t.

Don’t loop the the same response.

Lead with benefits.

If you want the user to do something, give them a reason first. Follow this formula: “To get what you want, do this thing.”

Persona: Google I/O 18. Spoken prompt: There’re actually 2 keynotes this year. CEO Sundar Pichai will kick things off on May 8th at 10 AM PST. If you’re attending, the best seats will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis during badge pickup. So plan to arrive early. If you’re not attending, get the best view by watching the livestream. Now, you can browse topics, manage your schedule, or ask me anything else you want to know about I/O.

Do.

Provide clear motivation for any actions you want the user to take. Tell the user why they might want to do something before telling them how to do it.

Persona: Google I/O 18. Spoken prompt: There’re actually 2 keynotes this year. CEO Sundar Pichai will kick things off on May 8th at 10 AM PST. If you’re attending, plan to arrive early since the best seats will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis during badge pickup. If you’re not attending, watch the livestream to get the best view. Now, you can browse topics, manage your schedule, or ask me anything else you want to know about I/O.

Don’t.

Starting a sentence with the action (e.g., arrive early) makes it more likely that the user will forget it by the time they learn why they should take action (e.g., to get the best seat).

Avoid niceties.

Niceties make responses feel distant and formal. Ditch them to keep the conversation friendly and informal.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). Spoken prompt: Sure, I can help with that. But first there’s one thing you need to do: accept Ibento’s terms of service. Display prompt: Before I can help with that, you’ll need to accept these terms. Visual: Basic card showing terms of service.

Do.

Use a friendly and familiar tone.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller). Spoken prompt: Please accept the Ibento terms of service in order to proceed.. Display prompt: Please accept the terms of service. Visual: Basic card showing terms of service.

Don’t.

Don’t respond in an overly formal manner.


Use contractions.

Spelling out words like "cannot" and "do not" can sound punishing and harsh.

Persona: Sekai (fake shoe store). User input: Show me purple leather sneakers. Spoken prompt: Sorry, I can’t find any purple leather sneakers. Do you want to look for a different color?

Do.

With contractions, this persona sounds natural and conversational.

Persona: Sekai (fake shoe store). User input: Show me purple leather sneakers. Spoken prompt: Sorry, I cannot find any purple leather sneakers. Do you want to look for a different color?

Don’t.

Without contractions, the persona’s response sounds stilted and robotic.

Don't provide UI-specific directions.

Refer to actions and concepts instead. This keeps the information fresh and accurate even as the interaction design evolves.

Persona: Google I/O 18. User input: 2nd No Match error. Spoken prompt: I’m still not sure, so go ahead and pick a topic from the list. Display prompt: Pick a topic. Visual: List card showing session topics. Chips: None of those.

Do.

Action-specific directions like “pick” “select” or “choose” future-proof the copy.

Persona: Google I/O 18. User input: 2nd No Match error. Spoken prompt: I’m still not sure, so go ahead and tap on a topic from the list. Display prompt: Tap on a topic. Visual: List card showing session topics. Chips: None of those.

Don’t.

UI-specific directions like “tap” “scroll” “swipe” or “drag” become outdated over time.