I think it’s time stop using the words successful and attempt, when referring to mundane everyday tasks.

It’s standard lingo for interface dialogues saying things like Attempting to log in, Login successful.

To attempt something, is to perform a task with a substantial probability of failing.

You attempt starting a new business, climbing a mountain or hitting the waste basket from across the room.

You don’t attempt pouring coffee, unlocking a door or ordering pizza, those are things you just do. In the unlikely and rare event that you do fail, so be it. It may fail but it’s never expected.

Attempting an everyday task, to me signals extremely low expectations and ambition.

When you are successful in something it usually means that there is some level of achievement.

You can be successful in starting a new business, climbing a mountain or hitting the waste basked from across the room.

You can’t really be successful in pouring coffee, unlocking a door or ordering pizza. Those are things you just do.

It’s even more obvious in the full sentences “I attempted starting a new business and was successful.” versus “I attempted pouring a cup of coffee and was successful”.

If your waiter said “I will attempt to place you order with the kitchen, Sir” and then came back very excited saying “I succeeded!” Wouldn’t you start to wonder about the quality of the food? I’d probably reply “I will attempt to give a tip, let’s hope I’m successful.”

When using words like attempt and successful in this manner you are sending a subconscious signal to the user that the system is poor and unreliable and that even the simplest tasks are difficult and often fail.

Just say “Logging in” and “Logged in”. That’s it.

Unsuccessful attempt to get some coffee.


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