Use of "Your" or "My" in Personalized WebApplication Design

13 Feb 2007 - 10:56am
9 years ago
1 reply
750 reads

A few years ago, my company made the choice to use "your" instead of
"my," because it seemed less presumptuous. We wanted to be speaking to
our customers rather than pretending to be in their skin. It seemed
more honest.

But recently, we're finding our marketing people want to use "my"
because it's so prevalent. Despite its presumption, "My" seems to have
won the day.

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at
[mailto:discuss-bounces at] On Behalf Of
Patrick Hunt
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:45 AM
To: discuss at
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Use of "Your" or "My" in Personalized
WebApplication Design

Howdy ya'll,

So does anyone have strong feelings--or better yet, research--about
whether its better to use "Your" or "My" to describe personalized
stuff in web application design? I'm working with a client who has
made extensive use of "Your" and I have this gut sense that "My" would
be better... more personal, more of a dialog between company and user,
more common and familiar... But before I recommed such a change, I was
wondering about others' thoughts and whether there was any research
done on the topic (and whether I should actually make such a
recommendation). ;-)


Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at
List Guidelines ............
List Help ..................
(Un)Subscription Options ...
Announcements List .........
Questions .................. lists at
Home .......................
Resource Library ...........


13 Mar 2007 - 11:14am
Dimiter Simov

I would say that what you use depends on the starting point and direction of
the interaction. When the interaction concerns the application in general
and the application needs to communicate this to users, it is more
appropriate to use YOU: "Your messages", "Your preferences", and so on. When
the interaction starts from the users, for example they want to see a list
of items they have created, it seems more appropriate to use MY: "show me my
emails", "give me my deals".

It also depends on the cultural peculiarities of users. Western culture, and
Americans in particular, seem to be fond of the I. It seems natural to say
Your or My since, psychologically speaking, the Universe exists for and
rotates around the individual. In other cultures this is less natural, and
maybe even counter-productive.

In Bulgarian, for example, it is quite weird to use "My Account" although
many websites and applications use it translating directly from English. It
is even more weird to use You and Your. In English the same word denotes
second person singular and second person plural. In Bulgarian, as in many
other languages, we have different words. Using the singular form indicates
a level of intimacy and less formal context. Some people like it, many feel
offended. Using the plural makes the site seem more official, more reliable,
more trustworthy, yet clumsier and more detached. The plural is the form you
use by default when you speak to someone you do not know. You switch to
singular when the context is less formal or when you get to know the other

If possible I would rather use a neutral form - Settings instead of My
Settings or Your Settings. Since I am the person using the product, in most
cases it is quite obvious the settings, preferences, account, and so on are
mine. Even Microsoft are moving away from "My". In XP and previous versions
of Windows they used to have "My Documents". In Vista, it is only

Dimiter Simov
Lucrat Ltd.
Netage Solutions Inc.
Personal blog

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Jon Strande

Has anyone looked into the internationalization of 'My' vs. 'Your'? Do
they have any cultural differences? Are there languages or cultures
where one of them loses meaning?

I lean towards My, simply because it is a person sitting at the other
end of what is being created - therefore it is personal. I'm fully
aware that the next statement is going to come off as a bit anal,
however, I also really prefer the term "person" instead of the
generic, less human, term "user" - when thought about in those terms,
My Account is what they're after, Your Account is what you offer them
access to. It is the difference between thinking in terms of the
people consuming what you provide and thinking in systems terms.

Was that too anal? ;-)

As for the personalized results being given someones name (Jon's Plog
on amazon, as an example), I've always thought that was a tad
strange... if there are multiple people, sure, it would make sense:

> Tom's Plog
> Jon's Plog
> Mary's Plog

But when it is just a single person, it is mine. My Plog. It doesn't
belong to anyone else.

All that having been said, context is everything here. If the My vs.
Your is written in the form of a statement, like someone else pointed
out, it would make sense to write: "You get access to your account
information" - that is a description and My wouldn't make any sense

My $0.02 cents.


On 2/14/07, Stewart Dean <stew8dean at> wrote:
> What is worth noting about these 'my' sites is that they attempt to be the
point you launch from....

Syndicate content Get the feed