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Design Blogging Terms We Can Probably Live Without

I don’t mean to pick on anyone in particular here, because a lot of people I highly respect use some of these terms.

But generally, in the web design/dev blogging niche we tend to fall into the trap of following trends even in our use of words (especially in headlines and book titles). This even occurs on the better sites, not only on the “list-based” ones.

Here are some terms that I think have been overused and that we could probably eventually do without:

  • Sexy
  • Ninja
  • Rockstar
  • Ultimate
  • Inspiring
  • Fresh

The problem with using these (and similar) terms (especially in book and article titles) is that they arrogantly tell the user the value of the content without waiting for the user to judge for themselves (sometimes insulting their intelligence in the process). Don’t tell me it’s “ultimate”; it’ll probably be out of date in a couple of months. Don’t tell me the photos are “inspiring”; that’s subjective and not everyone will agree. Don’t tell me I’ll become a “ninja”; I’ll decide what I’ve become when I’m done reading it. Don’t tell me it’s “fresh”; I don’t even know what that means.

What do you think? Should we try to improve the way we write headlines, and avoid this kind of fluff? I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this at some point, too, so I’m not claiming innocence here.

Are there any other words you can think of that are overused that end up overhyping the articles they introduce?

(Oh and this post was most certainly inspired by this hilarious article by Harry Roberts of CSS Wizardry and partially by this slideshow by Chris Coyier).

UPDATE: Interestingly, on the same day that I published this post, Douglas Bonneville wrote this piece about list posts, which is a follow-up to his new site idea. I hadn’t read either of those articles when I wrote this one.

20 Responses

  1. Bryan says:

    I totally agree. The banalization of such words makes the people think we’re lazy, and that we don’t have creativity enough to create an original headline. Of course, many of the journalistic headlines around news sites look similar, but they don’t have those “keywords” throwing around everywhere. The extensive use of such words really looks bad, and we need to look other ways to make the headlines look objective, but at the same time interesting for the people. Certainly this is not easy thing, but this is in no way a new problem. And if other people solve it, why can’t we, right?

    Sorry about the typos, still newbie on English.

  2. Dimitris K says:

    I could add:
    I am indeed stunned with so much beauty and excellence.

  3. Richard says:

    Can we also add ‘web 2.0’? I’m tired of people mis-using that when they mean ‘AJAX’.

  4. CWeill says:

    guru! Or is this already understood as horrible?

  5. Jesse says:

    Also include beginning posts with a number, i.e. 5 Excellent Examples Of Fresh Blah Blah Blah.

  6. usingjquery says:

    “10 beautiful pieces of jQuery you might not know”. I don’t know one “beautiful” piece of jQuery!

  7. Could not agree more, and I would add “amazing”, especially when used with a number : 50 amazing porfolios, 30 amazing tuts for creating blabla, 25 amazing wordpress 3 templates, etc … Unfortunatly, today everything is amazing.

    You’re article reminds me another one written by Chris Coyier (csstricks) with the title “10 Mouthwatering Tips on Can Achieve Mega Blogging Success!!”. Ironicaly, the first tip was ” Never title things like that.” :)

  8. Dietmar says:

    I can’t stand those terms anymore. Just have a look at websites which accumulate news in webdesign like designfloat or designbump: Nearly every second headline reads something like “Fresh”, “stunning”, and other things. I guess it came from the beginnings of smashing magazine or A list apart…

  9. Dave Wright says:

    Fresh post! you are the ultimate sexy rockstar ninja.

  10. Adrian says:

    I agree, there are definitely some adjectives that are overused/somewhat untrue. However, we can’t just get rid of all describing words, that would be too boring!

  11. Edgar Leijs says:

    Eh, what about ‘awesome’, ‘should know’, ‘must read’… :)

  12. Joseph says:

    Somehow, I’m okay with everything except rockstar and ninja. The rest are adjectives. You want to be a rockstar, get off your computer. You want to be a ninja, go to Japan.

  13. paul says:

    Top ten inspiring and fresh tips to become the ultimate sexy rockstar ninja!

  14. J. Revuelta says:

    Totally agree. Not much left to say.

  15. Mark says:

    Here’s a phrase – “must have” (i.e. 3,567 Must have wordpress plug ins)

  16. Oh, I know…

    “Breathtaking”…. :)

    How could I forget that one?

  17. Jorgen says:

    Totally agree!

    Just a couple days ago I was going through the Smashing Network. The first 5 or 6 post where either, “Amazing”, “Stunning”, “Fantastic” or some sorts. It seems 4 out of every 10 posts is a list or round up. I growing pretty tired of those kind of posts. To me it just seems a way to get content quickly on your blog instead of getting quality content on your blog.

  18. +X^N says:

    Your content
    is a win – win ,
    and ,
    we are on the same page
    the take away.

  19. +X^N says:

    _ a website to Undo such jargon :

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