It’s time we spoke about the “thing”

Lurking deep in the digital industry like some reject 50’s b-movie horror villain is this unhelpful term coined by UX Designers and others to refer to *anything* that we are working on.

Hey you — wanna see my thing? Nah, I’m alright mate.

Build the thing, show the thing, talk about the thing, write about the thing, take the thing out to dinner.

The sentiment behind it is great. Share and talk about what you are working on with others.

But there is something else that lies behind this ambiguous label. Let’s roleplay:

“Why can’t we call it an application form? That is what we are making right?”

“Don’t give it a label for god’s sake!”

“Why not?”

“Um… but the meeting is called ‘show the thing’. It sounds cool.”


This is shit, and lazy.

If you can’t think of a proper name to give your ‘thing’ so that people know wtf you are talking about perhaps that’s something you need to address in your product or service proposition. Or perhaps you haven’t understood what you are actually trying to achieve.

You could argue labelling the product with the coy, slightly casual no big deal ‘thing’ helps the team feel less embarrassed about not having all the answers yet. Therefore they will be less afraid to share a work in progress.

This is great.

However, whilst this is perhaps good for the product teams ego and other digi-folk it’s far less inclusive or useful for those outside our little designery bubble.

If I’m an accountant and I see your meeting where you are going to show your ‘thing’ I’m probably going to pass. Because, you know, it sounds a bit like you are on drugs.

If I see your meeting where you are going to show your new expenses app, I might go and check that out because you actually told me what the hell it is you are showing and it might solve a problem I have.

Our entire job is around making people understand our products. That shouldn’t stop just because we want to sound cool to other designers.