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5 design terms your design teams want you to know

Jennifer DeRome  |  April 12, 2019

No matter your role, if you’re focused on creating great customer experiences, chances are you’re working with multiple teams across your organization. Each team has a unique role to play in creating great CX, and likely use phrases, acronyms, and terms that not everyone will know or understand. To help with the translations, we reached out to our friends on social media and our internal experts at UserTesting to find out what key terms these teams want their colleagues to know:  

In the second installment of our series, we talked to design teams to learn how their colleagues can better communicate and interact with them. Use this guide to get aligned with the teams you work with—and get everyone speaking the most important language of all; the customers’.

Top five terms and concepts your design colleagues want you to know

Design isn’t just about making things ‘pretty’

A common frustration among design teams is the misconception that design is all about the aesthetics. While it’s true that designers are experts at making the end product look great, there’s a lot more that goes into that than making something pleasing to the eye. Good design requires a lot of research, testing, and iteration to gain empathy and human insight from target audiences. Including your design team as partners at the start of any project will help ensure a designer’s eye for customer empathy, style, tone, experience, and other factors are incorporated throughout the process resulting in an overall stunning design.

Cognitive load

If you’ve ever visited a really out-of-date webpage that was so overflowing with confusing text and images that you just couldn’t interact with the site, you’ve experienced one of the drawbacks of cognitive load. The human brain only has a small capacity for working memory, which is what we use when we’re processing what’s going on around us. Clean, intuitive designs help minimize cognitive load, making the experience much better for users. It’s not uncommon for designers to be asked to incorporate a lot of information into a limited space. While a non-designer might see this as simply being efficient, a designer knows how a cluttered design could negatively impact the overall experience,

Lorem ipsum

Despite its prevalence, lorem ipsum isn’t always the preferred copy depending on where you’re at in the design process. If you’re testing out basic sketches and wireframes, lorem ipsum copy might work just fine, but once you’re working with more functional prototypes, thoughtful copy will only help showcase a particular design. Content is very much part of the overall design, so conveying a concept, wireframe, or prototype in the best possible light may require some copy that’s relevant to the design. It doesn’t have to be perfect—just clear enough to give whoever may be interacting with the design enough guidance as to what the design should do or how it should be used. If a designer asks you for copy, take the extra time and effort to give them usable content to complement the design.


Grids are evenly divided up between columns and rows that designers rely on to help keep everything consistent, aligned, and arranged in the right way. Non-designers typically don’t think about “the grid” and that can sometimes become a challenge when those unfamiliar with grid structures start making asks of design that take things out of that structure (which probably is in place for the entire asset you’re working with).


As you’ve probably gathered by now, there’s a lot more to a designer’s work than making something aesthetically pleasing. Design teams rely on both qualitative and quantitative data to inform their work, continually gathering human insight as they test their designs.

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About the author:

Jennifer is a Senior Content Strategist for UserTesting. When she's not dreaming up new ways to connect with audiences, you can find her traveling around the world or enjoying a glass of wine with friends.