Considerations for implementing pronouns into My Profile Settings
Elden Seropian (they/them/theirs)
May 9th, 2018
While our other blog explains the general thinking around implementing pronouns into My Profile Settings in Asana, this post has more information about options we explored.
- Any pronouns can be entered. This is because gender-neutral pronouns are continually evolving, and there are many. Additionally, someone may have a non-pronoun preference, like using their name.
- Pronouns can be used to create structured sentences. We considered using the pronouns in notifications (e.g., “she assigned a task to you”). Later, we eliminated this constraint because it proved difficult to develop a simple input model while achieving the first requirement. Plus, our internationalization team’s research concluded that it would add unnecessary complexity as we translated Asana across a variety of languages.*
* Some languages, such as Japanese, don’t have gendered pronouns. We decided to just eliminate the field in those languages, but would love feedback on that decision.
Options we explored:
A drop-down or radio button with “write your own” option. We rejected this because it entailed more complicated user flow and would give “standard” pronouns privilege.
A typeahead that suggests common pronouns. It would be lengthier to implement because we don’t already have a component that does exactly that.
A drop-down with as many pronouns as we can gather, and an option to submit ones not included. We rejected this because we didn’t want to give users a negative experience if theirs weren’t there, nor did we want to run the risk of not keeping it up to date based on requests.
Example sentences where you fill in your pronoun as various parts of speech (e.g. [blank] assigned a task to you and you could fill in the blank with your pronouns.) We rejected because it was complicated to build, took up a lot of screen real-estate, was an untested pattern, and we weren’t sure it was the clearest way for users to add pronouns.
We ended up with a free-form text box because it was simple and non-restrictive. We added placeholder text to reduce confusion about what the field was for, for people who aren’t familiar with gender pronouns.
If you’re not building an application that will use pronouns to create structured sentences, we recommend a free-form text box because it is simple to build and use and inclusive in allowing people to freely self-identify and not privileging more common pronouns over others.