Keeping Microcopy at the forefront of your UX Strategy

What are the first few things that come to mind while designing or improving a website’s or app’s interface?

You are most likely to get caught up with things like the visual design, user flows, the information architecture — things that are extremely important to the success of a delightful user experience. But there’s another UX component that can either help or hamper users from having a pleasant experience, a factor that you might possibly be neglecting. Microcopy.

The text that you find on buttons, form fields, success and error messages, 404 pages are basically examples of microcopy. Microcopy is short, contextual text that informs or guides users throughout your product. You can find it all over the place. In all likelihood, these words might seem insignificant when set by side the overall website design. But it’s quite the contrary; those tiny words have a huge impact on conversions.

The current state of Microcopy

Users don’t just desire pretty colours and cool pictures on your website. They require more than just functionality and usability. Because more than anything, users want to be understood. And the only way to do that is by starting a conversation. The copy is without a doubt the most human aspect of the overall interaction with your product. This is where your product is communicating with the users, answering their queries, providing feedback and prompting them to take action. But copy alone can’t do the job. It needs to be developed along with the design and seamlessly integrated into the whole process.

As more and more things are shifted to an online platform, the need to have a well-written copy at the beginning of the process becomes more and more obvious. When designing a product such as an app or a website, the product needs to be not just user-friendly but also intuitive. The fundamental principles play a huge role in how we build designs and iterate on them. So why is copy not a prime concern earlier in the project sequence? And how many companies out there still use Lorem Ipsum or draft quick copy to display to their teams? The answer: too many and that’s to their disbenefit.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”
 — Jack Kerouac

There are multiple factors behind the success of designing great microcopy. Here are a few tips to make a little bit of text pay off in a big way. To enhance the user experience, your interface text needs to

Be clear

A lot of times, the copy contains words that are software problems, technical expressions so to speak. When in fact, they should have been user predicaments. A verb can be the most powerful part of your sentence and close attention must be paid to them.

For clarity, remove the technical terms and put the action in the context of the user. This is important when you’re writing a product announcement or an app update. Instead of focusing on the technical specs of the new feature you’re releasing, focus on the new action that people can perform.

Be concise

Keeping it concise doesn’t only mean that it has to be as short as possible, more importantly, the copy has to be efficient. When writing concisely, make sure that each and every word fulfills a distinct job. Content-first designs make sure that your visuals are in line with what you’re meaning to convey. Not the other way around.

All things considered, make your designers and writers work in parallel.

Reflect your brand’s natural voice

Begin with an array of brand principles. These principles can be a couple of adjectives that personify your brand. You can brainstorm with your team to come up with these adjectives.

Now imagine that you’re signing your product/service up to a dating site.

What words or info would you put in your product’s profile? What is it about your product that makes it stand out? What makes it seem most interesting to people?

What would make them want to swipe right and want to learn more?

These personas can then be transformed into descriptive words to further become your brand principles.

Be Short and Helpful

Keep in mind the key actions and steps you’re taking along with the results you’re expecting. Use simple, straightforward, unambiguous language and short, catchy sentences. As the name suggests, it’s microcopy — so keep it crisp, concise and to-the-point. Be helpful — make sure your copy isn’t unnecessarily dangling around but is solving a genuine user problem.

Source : Airbnb

Alleviate the user’s worries

Your microcopy can also help solve user queries such as problems encountered while signing up, subscribing, buying a product, among others.

Users may worry that a certain process, for instance signing up, may take too long. By simply adding “You’re 2 steps away from creating your account”, you can eradicate this fear. Or adding “You can change this at any time” to an email or username field will address their suspicions of being locked in.

Make the users feel that everything they want is just around the corner. So, consider changing the generic “Log in” to something more active. Prezi does so very gracefully by keeping their Free Trail CTA as “Give Prezi a try”.

Source: Prezi

Avoid jargon

Nothing to worry about. Everyone does this.

A large amount of copy found on the web is jammed up with jargon. In a failing attempt to sound smart, a lot of people use industry-specific jargon that’s supposed to make them seem like industry experts. But the truth is, being able to put across technical information in layman terms suggests a far greater mastery of the topic in question.

Microcopy plays a huge role in shaping how people think about your product, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to delight people with words.