Why Naming Matters

Blog, marketing strategy

Programmer Phil Karlton famously said that “there are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.” Whether it’s a function, a variable, a design pattern, or a computer module, giving a concise yet descriptive name, can be a surprisingly difficult process, even for web developers.

 The most important reason to give modules, distinct units which a program utilizes to analyze a complex activity, descriptive names is that it creates a shared language. Whether it’s from a copywriter to a designer, a designer to a developer, or from a client to a project manager, utilizing a shared language helps avoid the frustration of vague requests and, in turn, increases team efficiency. This not only applies to us as a revenue growth agency, but to every business.

Giving descriptive names also helps our team understand the purpose of each module.  Understanding a module, not by its design or content, but by its function, allows a better understanding of how the end user is going to experience the site. The process of naming modules can also help highlight any issues. Difficulty in choosing a name is likely reflective of a poorly defined purpose. By taking a step back and analyzing its function, any issues can be caught earlier in the process.

It is impossible to give an accurate name to a module without understanding its purpose. To understand the purpose of a module, think of about it in context. How does it work as part of the site and how do each of the smaller parts work together as part of a larger goal? Let’s use a real life example. A website that Intelechy Group built and designed for a local condominium included a module for viewing floor plans. The purpose of the module in the context of the site is simple: to give the user a familiarity with the floor plans that the community has to offer. The module has a navigation, an image, and a description, and all three of these work together to allow the user to explore and acquaint themselves with the available floor plans. By understanding the function of the floor plan viewer, we can better describe how they fit in the context of the site. Since the function of the module is specific, we don’t need to use a generic name. “Floor Plan Brochure” is concise and it accurately reflects the functionality of the module.

If all team members are involved in the naming process, then each person will get a better grasp on how the system fits together as a whole, which is always beneficial, even if it means taking time out of the day to meet. Furthermore, it is important to use the name in everyday conversation. Although it might sound silly at first, using the names for modules will avoid ambiguity and long, convoluted descriptions. In the end, the marketing strategy you apply to naming is all about efficiency.