What goes through your mind whenever you see red color as a response for a field you just filled or a button that you just clicked? If you thought of an error, then it’s because it is the match between the system and the real world.
Seeing the green color, on the contrary, feels like a correct action or a success. This is because beyond screen also, red and green are typically associated with Stop and Go respectively.
When users use a digital product, they may not know the technical jargons and processes associated at the backend.
If you disregard your users’ understanding, and language or imagery that they do not understand, that can badly affect the whole user experience. We, humans, find great comfort in familiarity. If something is unfamiliar and non-understandable we feel fearful and doubtful.
In this second guideline of Nielsen’s Heuristics. Put in Nielsen’s words,
The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order. read here
Match between the system and the real world examples
Let’s talk about some scenarios and examples where this is relevant
The labels and other content
Most of the times the users are going to search for you on the internet or are going to navigate within your website using language that seems more natural to them.
For example on this e-commerce website, they have used the word netbook for the laptop, which may seem really confusing to many users.
Similarly, error messages like these the following are not really very helpful for the end users (even for the developers at times).
Instead, a message like this feels less threatening and reassuring to the users.
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The familiar use of visual elements.
It is awesome to be creative and novel, but there already are some standard visual elements which users associate with certain actions.
For example, a star is conventionally associated with bookmarking.
The trash bin is associated with trash bin/recycle bin. A link looks like a link if it is colored and has a line beneath it.
Medium and Kindle devices let you highlight the text the same way as you would with a highlighter if you were reading a book.