The Importance of Copy in UX

Kshitij Kaushik
Nov 2, 2018 · 5 min read

Picture this, you have an amazing app with great aesthetics. It looks good and works even better but it’s all written in Klingon.

Did you picture it? Did you feel the dissatisfaction there? A good copy is supposed to bridge the gap between reading and experience. Let’s look at a more relatable example. Ever encountered a passive aggressive pop-up when visiting a website? Something like this, wherein you are left with negative feelings about subscribing?

Source
This is a classic example of bad copy. A seamless UX copy is supposed to guide the user to make an informed decision rather than manipulating or shaming them into signups.

Well thought out Microcopy will not only get you better usability but also bring you more users who are satisfied with their experience.

Source — Flicker

Basecamp has a great reputation for copy. It is not only informative but also clearly states the users’ options to them without overloading them with information.

The scope of experience goes way beyond a single blog, website or application. With the steady growth and universal adoption of UX, the case for experiential copy has never been stronger.

Microcopy in UX

The term ‘microcopy’ is used fairly often in context with UX. So what is it? Microcopy is highly contextual text that is used in UI. It can be a small message, a direction, or a CTA. But it always serves a purpose. Microcopy allows the user to interact with the design better without hindering the user experience.

But does microcopy or copy at large serve as anything other than a simple design accessory? The answer is yes. Jared Spool says, “Great Designs Should Be Experienced and Not Seen.” But what does it mean for microcopy? It means that copy cannot be an add-on for great designs, it has to be an integral part of the design itself. If your user notices your copy, it means that it is not well integrated. Microcopy needs to be so seamlessly integrated that it should be virtually invisible and only exist as a part of the user journey. Poorly researched or written copy will definitely stand out in a design and seem like a hindrance to the design experience.

UX Writing and design

In the past decade, the role of UX writers has grown in almost every design firm in the USA. The past five years have shown that UX writers get paid as well as designers on most occasions. The reasons for this are several fold but let us look at an example to reiterate how copy makes a difference.

Source — Mailchimp.com

This is the success message that shows when you send out Email campaigns from MailChimp. By keeping it casual and optimistic, MailChimp has relieved the anxiety the user might feel when sending out a campaign, and it has provided the user with a sense of accomplishment at the same time. Small touches like these make all the difference in the user experience as the user is likely to perform better with integrated copy and design rather than a mechanical front.

UX copy for enterprise design

When UX copy is incorporated efficiently for enterprise applications, the results are drastic. The role of copy in these applications is to guide the user through the application so seamlessly that the user doesn’t have to think about it at all. Like any good design, the point of good copy is to be invisible. Which is the reason why so many organizations are increasing their budget for UX writers. And these writers are not a part of the marketing team anymore, they are involved in the ideation, development, and design process.

A great example of great Enterprise UX copy is Slack. Slack is integrated, agile, but most importantly, it’s extremely user-friendly! The reason is its great design, as well as the copy that guides the user right from the beginning so well that no user is ever lost on Slack.

Sourcewww.samepage.io

The words used in UX designs are not just significant but an integral part of the design itself. It is not just designers but the product managers, and the CXOs who are now starting to look at how important copy is in a design. This has led to a sudden growth in demand for UX writers. These writers are now actively involved in the design process as they integrate copy with a superior understanding of the design and make it invisible. The standard for design is being raised through words and the industry is definitely keeping up.

When designers stop considering copy as an add-on, the magic of seamless design is unfolded. So as experience design grows, so does UX copy.

Kshitij Kaushik

Kshitij is a VP of Experience Design at Koru UX Design. He is a passionate, self-organized individual who loves to practice lean UX for enterprise products. When he is not solving UX problems at home, he can be found soul-searching in the hills and gather great coffee blends to keep him supercharged.

Kshitij Kaushik

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