What exactly does microcontent entail?

Courtney Jordan
2 min readJan 16, 2023

--

As a content strategist and head of UX and content strategy teams at a B2B SaaS startup, I hear the term microcontent bandied about. I’d initially thought of it as just the text that displays on the UI, such as in-page text, confirmation dialogs, error messages, but the way we defined it was more encompassing. Since there seems to be a lot of wiggle room as to what microcontent entails, I decided to share our definition of microcontent:

  • Onboarding and feature adoption call-outs and guides. This is anything that you add to the product to make people more successful in getting started or in increasing feature usage, such as calling attention to a new or underused feature.
  • Field labels. I don’t include other types of labels here such as column labels in tables or tab names or button labels, because that overlaps with the related area of information architecture.
  • Page-, section-, and field-level help. This help text is generally hidden under a ? near the page or section title, or near the field label. It could also be column-level help.
  • Error and success messages. These are the messages that display after a user performs an action to let them know whether it was successful or not. Error messages, in particular, generally contain links to fix a problem or contain info to point users towards possible resolutions.
  • System status messages. This lets users know if a platform is down unexpectedly, will have an upcoming maintenance window, is down for planned maintenance, needs to be updated or is updating. It could also entail the status of third-party apps that run on a platform.
  • Confirmation dialogs. Confirmation dialogs display when a user has performed an action that usually can’t be undone (at least easily), so you want to make sure that they understand the finality of the action.
  • Text that displays on the UI. This could be text on a free trial form to get people excited about starting a free trial, or in a product, help text that is deemed too important to hide under a ? mark. This could also include things like “1 of 5 results” for the pagination of search results or “5 results matching <search term>”, but that generally is already addressed during the design process.
  • Formatting hints. These could be hints in-field or below the field, such as expected date format. UX tip: You shouldn’t force your user to conform to a date format, if at all possible.

Your own definition of microcontent may vary! Let me know if I’ve missed anything!

--

--

Courtney Jordan

Storyteller, process optimizer, relationship builder, stakeholder uniter, experience creator. MS, HCI/AI/UX. Traveling this life w my soulmate and awesome teens