Actionable Language

Physicians use Commure apps to get things done. Content should be written and structured to help them understand and take the most important actions.

Headings and Subheadings

Headings and subheadings are titles and subtitles that refer to sections of the interface.

Basic structure

Headings and subheadings should be:

Informative and descriptive:

  • Highlight the most important concept or piece of information
  • Help physicians understand what they’ll find in the section below

Concise and scannable:

  • Use simple, clear language
  • Keep headings to a single sentence
  • Avoid using punctuation such as periods, commas, or semicolons
  • Write in sentence case (capitalize the first word and proper nouns only)

Patient list

List of active patients

the List of Active Patients

This list contains all the patients you are actively caring for. You should look elsewhere for discharged patients.

Tasks

List of open tasks

full list of active Tasks

Tasks that are assigned to you will appear in this section.

Use of articles

Whether or not to use articles (e.g. the, a, an) in headings and subheadings depends on the type of message.

Conversational headings

For more conversational areas of the product, such as profile pages, customization pages and empty states, use articles. It makes the language more approachable and helps people to understand new, complex concepts.

Secure your account with two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication
You have no more tasks assigned to you
Tasks = 0

Microcopy headings

For labels, titles, and microcopy, avoid articles to keep content short and actionable. This increases readability and encourages immediate action.

Patients
Your patients
Settings
Change your settings

Sentences

Start sentences with imperative verbs when telling physicians what actions they can take; especially when introducing something new.

Sentences that start with an imperative verbs sound like instructions on what to do. Don’t use permissive language like “you can”.

Add columns to your patient list to track more information.
You can track more information by adding columns.
Turn off notifications for lists you don't need.
If you don't need notifications for a list this setting would deactivate it.

Buttons

Buttons need to be clear and predictable. Physicians should be able to anticipate what will happen when they use a button. Never mislead someone by mislabeling a button.

Buttons should always lead with a strong verb that encourages action. To provide enough context to physician, use the {verb} + {noun} content formula on buttons except in the case of common actions like “Done”, “Close”, “Cancel”, "Save" or “OK”.

Add patient
Patient
Create list
List

Always write button text in sentence case, which means the first word is capitalized and the rest are lowercase (unless a term is a proper noun).

Add patient
ADD Patient
Create list
Create List

Avoid unnecessary words and articles such as the, an, or a.

Add patient
Add a patient
Create list
Create new list

Links

Much like buttons, links need to be clear and predictable. Physicians should be able to anticipate what will happen when they select a link. Never mislead someone by mislabeling a link.

Now that you've created an account, sign into Listrunner.

Now that you've created an account, Click here.

Links should never use “click here” or “here” as link text.

Links in a sentence

Links in full sentences should not encompass the entire sentence. Only link the text that describes where physicians go when they select that link.

Want to learn more about components? Click here.

Should Commure decide to write content in other languages, the process will be easier if only single terms or small parts of phrases are linked. Linking a full phrase is problematic because the word order might change, which could break the link into multiple parts.

Links outside of a sentence

Links that aren’t in full sentences should use the {verb + noun} pattern and not be punctuated, with the exception of question marks.


Confirmations

Confirmations are presented for actions that can’t be undone or that are difficult to undo.

Confirmation messages should:

  • Always give physicians the option to either confirm or cancel their action
  • Be used for a single, primary task
  • Keep body content to one line of text and not use more than two calls to action

Confirmation titles should:

  • Ask if the physician wants to continue, using a concise question starting with an action verb
  • Be one sentence and avoid using punctuation, with the exception of question marks
  • Avoid articles (the, a, an) to keep content short and actionable
  • Be written in sentence case (the first word is capitalized, and the rest is lowercase)
Discard unsaved changes?
Discard?
Delete tag
are you sure you want to delete That?
Leave without saving?
This page has unsaved changes. Are you sure you want to leave?

Confirmation body content should:

  • Clearly explain that the action is irreversible or difficult to undo. If further explanation is needed, be concise and express it in a simple, non-technical way.
  • Be concise: use only one line of text. Don’t start the sentence with, “Are you sure?”.
This cannot be undone.
Are you sure you want to delete that tag? This action cannot be reversed.
This will delete all edits since you last saved.
Discarding changes will delete edits you made since you last saved.
Leaving this page will delete all unsaved changes.
If you leave this page, all unsaved changes will be lost. Are you sure you want to leave this page?

Confirmation calls to action should:

  • Be clear and predictable: anyone should be able to anticipate what will happen when they click a button
  • Scannable: avoid unnecessary words and articles such as the, an, or a

Since confirmation messages are placed in modals, the context in the title is in close proximity to the buttons. In this situation, the call to action text on the buttons doesn’t have to follow the {verb}+{noun} pattern. One word calls to action can be used, for example, [Cancel] [Delete].

Deletions

Primary action:

  • Delete
  • Erase

Secondary action:

  • Cancel
  • Back

Discarding changes while on a page

Primary action:

  • Discard
  • Continue

Secondary action:

  • Cancel
  • Keep editing

Leaving a page with unsaved changes

Primary action:

  • Leave page
  • Exit

Secondary action:

  • Cancel
  • Stay

Directional language

In the same way that links should never say “click here,” avoid using directional language such as “above/below” or “right/left.”

Directional language is confusing and unhelpful when spoken aloud by a screen reader. It creates challenges for internationalization (for example, right to left languages) and can conflict with mobile design patterns.

Directional language often indicates a lack of visual or content hierarchy. Whenever possible, keep instructional copy and related actions close together so that directional language isn’t needed.

  • Open the left menu
  • Select the top button
  • View the rightmost reading pane
  • Your options appear below

Saving vs. Done

There are two kinds of action that a physician could think of as "saving"; saving information immediately to a database, or holding information in system memory - to be saved later - while the user performs interim actions - known as deferred saves.

In general, follow “Save” guidelines when a change is saved immediately and “Done” guidelines for deferred saves.

Saving immediately

Use “Save” for web and iOS as the default term for any action that saves immediately to a database. For Android, use a check mark. Note: When physicians press and hold on the check mark, the tooltip displays “Save”.

Saving using the context bar component

When physicians make changes on a page they’re sometimes presented with a context bar at the top. This context bar displays a status message to indicate the state of the changes, like “Unsaved changes”. Since the status message provides context around the action being taken, the button doesn’t need to follow the common {verb} + {noun} content formula. For example, [Save] instead of [Save work].

In the context bar component, use the verb “Save” for web and iOS, and a check mark in Android.

Status messages in the context bar should be descriptive and follow the {adjective} + {noun} content formula.

Saving in modals and sheets

For web and iOS, use the verb “Save” in modals and sheets when saving directly to the database. For Android, use a check mark to indicate “Save”.

Note: When physicians press and holds on the check mark, the tooltip displays “Save”

Saving at the bottom of a page in web

Use the {Save} + {noun} content formula when a save action doesn’t have the surrounding context of a modal or context bar. This applies to the save action at the bottom of pages in web.

For example, the action at the bottom of the Listrunner signup page uses "Create account":

NOTE: Android and iOS have the save action at the top of the screen in the nav bar. These platforms don’t use a save bar at the bottom of a page like in web.

Deferred saves

Sometimes, when physicians confirm a set of changes inside a modal or sheet, these changes are applied as unsaved changes to the current page. In other words, the changes made weren’t immediately saved to the database. When this happens, don’t use the verb “Save” as the call to action because it would be misleading.

Use the adjective “Done” in web, Android, and iOS for deferred saves. When the modal or sheet closes, then physicians can save all of the changes they made.

Most deferred saves happen when confirming changes in Add, Edit, Manage, and Select modals and sheets.

Datepickers

Use the adjective “Done” in web, Android, and iOS for datepickers.


OK vs. Accept

Use the adjective “OK” when physicians need to confirm they’ve read something, but aren’t required to legally accept terms of service before continuing. For example, use “OK” when presenting a security notification in a modal or sheet.

Use the adjective “Accept” when terms of service require legal confirmation before physicians can continue.


Close vs. Cancel

Use "Close" in situations where the content is in a view-only state. Do not use “Close” as the call to action when there’s the option for physicians to:

  • make any changes to the modal or screen
  • confirm they’ve read something or accept terms of service (see OK vs. Accept)

Use “Close” in web and iOS, and an “X” in Android: Note: When physicians press and holds on the “X” in Android, a tooltip appears with “Close”.

Use “Cancel” as the option for physicians to back out of any changes made on a page, modal, or sheet.

  • When the cancel button is pressed, changes automatically get discarded.
  • “Cancel” is often paired with “Save” and “Done” actions.
  • “Cancel” is always placed to the left.

Use “Cancel” in web and iOS, and an “X” in Android: Note: When physicians press and holds on the “X” in Android, a tooltip appears with “Cancel”.


Select vs. Choose

Use the verb “Select”:

  • When telling physicians to pick something from a limited number of options of the same kind
  • When physicians need to make an easy or obvious decision that doesn’t require deep reflection or analysis
  • For defined lists and dropdown menus

Pair Select modals and screens with the “Done” call to action.

Use the verb “Choose” when:

  • Encouraging physicians to make a decision that is more subjective, strategic, emotional, or open-ended
  • Physicians have to pick from a large inventory of options, like apps in the app store, or options that require strategic or clinical decision making, like choosing medications

Edit vs. Manage

Use the verb “Edit” for simple content-changing actions, or to indicate that only one object, section or setting can be updated. Place as a link next to the field, object or area that is being edited. Pair this verb with a noun if it’s in a button or if it’s unclear what is being edited. For example:

Use the verb “Manage” to convey that multiple actions can be taken, or that multiple objects, sections or settings can be updated. Pair this verb with a noun if it’s in a button or if it’s unclear what is being managed. For example:

In these examples, physicians could discharge, add tags to, or update multiple patients; they could Edit their tag names or simply Delete the tags; they could Invite new teammates or Deactivate someone's access to their patient lists.


Change vs. Switch

Use the verb “Change” when physicians can replace an option, but not edit it. For example, they can change an image, but the action doesn’t include editing its properties. Place as link text next to the field or area that is being changed. There’s no need for a noun unless it’s unclear what is being changed.

Use the verb “Switch” when it’s important for physicians to know what they’re switching between, like users, accounts, hospital sites, teams, or modes. When the switch happens, the previous option is turned off, logged out, or deactivated. Always pair with a noun to prevent confusion.


Create vs. Add

Use the verb “Create” when physicians generate something from scratch, like a new tag or list.

Use the verb “Add” when physicians bring something that already exists into their app, like a patient.


View vs. See

Use the verb “View” when physicians must go to a specific page or section for more details, or to reveal more information. Use “View” in buttons, calls to action, and link text.

Use the verb “See” in more general conversational descriptions without a specific call to action.

  • Add your first patient and see how they appear in your list.

Need vs. Must

Use the verb “Need” when telling physicians something they’re required to do something.

  • To delete a list, you need to delete, discharge, or transfer all patients in that list.

Export vs. Download

Use “Export” as the call to action when physicians seek to transfer data from Commure and convert it into a different format.

  • Export CSV file

Use “Download” as the call to action when physicians need to copy data (of the same format) from Commure to their computer system.

  • Download X-Rays
  • Download PDF

Import vs. Upload

Use “Import” as the call to action when physicians need to transfer data into Commure, possibly converting it into a different format ,so it can be used in an app.

  • Import CSV file

Use “Upload” as the call to action when physicians need to copy data of the same format from a computer system into Commure.

  • Upload image
  • Upload file