I’d like to present you with a thoroughly enjoyable article that may serve as a reminder why communication is a founding principle1 in design that goes beyond semiotic tokens. This is all the more true for user experience design, where interaction between a user and a machine has some of the very properties humans look for when they communicate with each other.

As a side note: Being a semanticist myself I find it pleasantly surprising how often Lakoff is mentioned in UX design circles, deservedly so, I should say. However, his seminal work is decades old by now and more contemporary insights from cognitive science have yet to find their way into UX design. Grice’s work is older still and if you are looking for more advanced methodical applications of his theoretic underpinnings, perhaps Relevance Theory is an avenue you may wish to pursue.

Seriously. There is lots of stuff that has evolved from what Grice introduced (beyond Relevance Theory). Lots of it is much more apt to describe and analyze communicative phenomena. Especially when it comes to interaction with computers, that just so happen to fail to qualify as a communication partner because they lack, in Grice’s terms, the capacity to act as intentional agents under the cooperative principle.

Still, read the article and make up your minds. Especially, if the concepts I threw around here are alien to you.


  1. The details of which I’ll save for some later posts. Suffice it to say that there are two systems of communication, a semiotic and a co-constructivist system. The latter is not one in which a computer may partake in communication, but it may well serve as a mediating proxy for communication with the creator of a program. ↩︎

UX Magazine: UX Design as a Two-Way Conversation

  1. jochmann posted this
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