Three invisible design decisions that are more important than you think

Lewis Wake
Tuesday 27 July 2021

Good design is invisible, if it functions well and serves it’s purpose then the world can live in harmony.

If you go to a supermarket and have a bad customer experience, you are likely to raise a complaint. If you have a good customer experience, you are not likely to praise staff for their service.

Here are some decisions that designers spent a lot of time making, so you don’t have to.

Should the button read “Log in” or “Sign in”?

According to NNGroup’s review of 50 large websites, using “Sign in” is more common. The phrase “Log in” is less common.

However, the phrase “Sign up” is just as common. This can be confusing when the two phrases are paired together.

Using the phrase “Log in” makes “Sign up” call to actions more obvious as they are further apart visually and faster to scan than using “Sign up” and “Sign in”.

This is especially beneficial to non-native English speakers.


Make “Sign up” actions more obvious by using “Log in”, especially when pairing them together.

Twitter login screen showing log in button paired with sign up button

Should the page title say “My dashboard” or “Your dashboard”?

When we use technology we are interacting with a tool to obtain information. We are communicating with a computer to show the data we wish to see.

When a system is describing content that is specific to you, you should use the second person tense. This is the computer talking with you.

For example:

  • Your photos
  • Your settings
  • Your choices

When you are telling the system what to do, you should use the first person tense. This is you talking with the computer.

For example:

  • Publish my photos
  • Publish my attachment


Using a computer is a two-way conversation. Use “Your dashboard”.

Thank you, computer. You are welcome, Harold.

Should the “Okay” button come before or after the “Cancel” button?

For speakers of languages with left-to-right directionality, there is an intuition that the positive context action should come first before the negative action.

In some contexts, having the “Okay” button on the left of the “Cancel” button seems correct.

However, in the context of human computer interaction, having the “Okay” button on the right of the “Cancel” button is better as there is less eye movement required.

By placing the “Okay” button on the left, the eye requires three visual fixations before primary action is selected. Left, to right, to left again.

Okay button on left and cancel button on the right showing three points of visual fixation

By placing the “Okay” button on the right, the eye requires two visual fixations before primary action is selected. Left, to right.

Okay button on the right and cancel button on the left with two points of visual fixation


Two is less than three.  Put the “Okay” button on the right.

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