Talking the talk in Japanese Design: UX/UI

I hope everyone has some exciting plans for Silver Week! If you don’t, be sure to brush up on the words below so that you can confidently participate in conversations about UI, Ux, and more broadly in digital design. Even if you do have plans, make sure you fit this article into your schedule.

Happy Silver Week, everyone!

端末/デバイス tanmatsu/debaisu device
When talking about phones, tablets, computers, anything that users will use to access the “contentsu” you’re designing, the term “tanmatsu” to mean device is more commonly used. But, I haven’t come across anyone who doesn’t know the word “debaisu” to mean the same thing.
参照 sanshou browse
If you’re using a computer with your own personal settings, I’m sure you’ll have the settings in English. But just in case your office computers are set in Japanese or you’re wanting to give yourself a challenge, then this is the button you want to click when you’re looking for a file to upload.
設計 sekkei design/layout
“Sekkei” is a widely used word in Japanese, so it is important not only in design industries but other industries as well. This word for design largely refers to sketches, wireframes or other visualisations of your project, but it can also mean plan. Try to listen for context on this one and maybe double check to confirm what your boss wants from you!
情報設計 jyouhou sekkei information architecture
While Information Architecture should be a term you’re familiar with take a look at the Kanji used here. You will notice that this word ends with “sekkei”, which is the word we just learnt, and begins with “jyouhou”, which means “information”. I like to think of it as informed design.
合成します gousei shimasu to make a composite image/ to photoshop together
If you’re still a little unsure as to what this word means, chuck it into Google image and hit search (no guarantee these results will be SFW).
横幅 yokohaba width
縦幅 tatehaba height
You might notice that these two words have “haba” in common. “Haba” on its own usually means side-to-side width, just like the English sense of the word. When paired with “yoko” (side), this side-to-side meaning is reinforced. When paired with “tate” (vertical), however, we get the vertical width of something. Or more appropriately in English, height.
最小幅/最大幅 saishou haba/saidai haba min width
The kanji at the beginning of these two words, “sai”, means “most”. So if we want to break these words up simply, we have “most small width” and “most big width” and some not great English, but hopefully a good mnemonic.
比率 hiritsu ratio
As you’ll know, the term ratio comes up a lot in digital design so this is a good one to remember. When written with numbers ratios are written in Japanese the same as they are in English, e.g. 16:9.

案件 anken project
Like in English, the word “anken” refers to a project as a whole. The word “purojekuto” (プロジェクト) is also widely understood in Japan, so don’t worry too much is you can’t remember “anken”. The “ken” part of “anken” can be translated as matter, and can be used when talking about certain parts of a project. For example; “Konoken ni tsuite wa…” means “For this matter…” or “For this part (of the project)…”

ファイル拡張子 fairu kakuchoushi file extension
More often than not you might be referring to a specific extension in which case it would probably just be better to say “dotto pi- di- effu” (.pdf), or whichever extension you want to mention. However, when asking a client what kind of file they need when asking a client what kind of file they need, this term is very handy..

ティザーサイト tizaa saito teaser site
This word is one of the katakana words you look at a few times before finally saying it out aloud and realising what it is (well, I did). At least once you know it, it’s pretty likely you’ll remember it.

バックエンド/フロントエンド bakku endo/furonto endo backend/frontend
Again, these two are words that aren’t actually too difficult, but sound different enough in Japanese that you’ll have to stop and think for a second.
解像度 kaizoudo resolution
Here are some handy phrases containing the word “kaizoudo”. “Kaizoudo no takai ime-ji” means “high resolution image”. At the other end of the spectrum we have “kaizoudo no hikui ime-ji”, meaning “low resolution image”. And to combine this word with another one we had earlier, “kaizoudo hiritsu”, or “resolution ratio”.
圧縮 asshuku compression/zip
These next two words are best remembered as a pair. Add “suru” onto the ends of both “asshuku” and the below “kaitou” to turn them into verbs.
解凍 kaitou unzip
I find this word really interesting because of its kanji. The first one has a few meanings such as “remove” or “melt”. The second one means “freeze”. So put those two together and you get freeze-melt, better understood as unzip.
素材集 sozaishuu collection of resources
This is a really broad term which can be used to talk about reference books, useful websites, anything you draw information from to make your project better. The first part of the word, “sozai”, is often first learnt as “ingredients”, but it covers a larger range of meanings than just the bits and pieces that you throw into your cooking.
パララックス(多重スクロール) pararakkusu (tajyuu sukuro-ru) parallax scroll
This hot new web design technique has made its way to Japan. Whichever term you choose to use will be understood by people in the industry. An interesting tidbit “tajyuu sukuro-ru” means multi-layered scroll.
白抜き shironuki reverse out
This term refers to when you design letters on a project to look as though they have been cut out of the image or shape to show through to the layer behind. As the name suggests (“shiro” means “white”), in Japanese design the letters generally become white.
上書き保存 u’egaki hozon overwrite save
Such a simple word, but I really like this one because it matches the English so precisely. We have “u’e” (over), “gaki” (write), and “hozon” (save). Perfect.
コンテンツ contentsu contents
In Japanese there is another word for “contents”, which is “naiyou”. However, in this industry it is more common to hear “contentsu” to describe the contents of a website.
仕様書 shiyousho specification sheet
Obviously very important if you’re going to be working with a large group of people! This refers to the specification sheet used to record the spec’s of a project and to share them with the team.

As UI and digital design are relatively new industries with new technology, to keep up with the ever-changing terminology many of the terms have simply been directly imported from the English. Here is a list of some of those words with their katakana and pronunciations.

アップロード appuro-do upload
リンク rinku link
カラム karamu column
バナー bana banner
ユーザー yuuza User
アクセシビリティ akusesabiriti accessibility
WEBフォント webu fonto Web font
ホワイトスペース howaito supe-su whitespace
ユーザー・ジャーニー yu-za- jya-ni user journey
エクスペリアンス・マップ ekusuperiansu mappu experience map
ブレーキポイント bureekipointo breakpoints
リスポンシブWEBデザイン risuponshibu webu dezain responsive web design
マルチデバイス maruchi debaisu multi-device
フルスタック furu sutakku full stack
スライス suraisu slice (images for placement in a web design)

So that’s it for this month. Now with these words under your vocab belt, you’ll be better equipped to deal with talking with your Japanese co-workers about digital design. Join us again next when we will be decrypting one of the most used design programs in Japanese agencies: Adobe Illustrator.

Ashleigh Leyshon

Ash is a translator and localiser in the mobile games industry. She was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia where she began learning Japanese in primary school. Which started a life-long passion for language and writing, and has now extended that passion to coding. Ash lived in Nagoya for a year before moving to Tokyo and has now been in Japan for 2 and a half years. In her spare time Ash loves to draw, play games, read, ski, knit, practice martial arts, and travel.

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