In our quest to create the perfect interface, there are a lot of aspects of UX design we need to think about. But, while we worry about the touchpoints, fonts, and layouts, we often forget about microcopy.
What is microcopy, in the first place?
How does it affect user experience?
How can we get the best of it?
These are only some of the questions this article will help you find answers to.
So, let’s get started.
What Is UX Microcopy and Why Should I Know About It?
Microcopy is a term that describes every bit of text that has a place on your webpage.
UX writing refers to the text on your buttons, main menu, the field in your contact forms – every single word you use to communicate with the users and help them navigate.
Perhaps microcopy sounds tiny and irrelevant. However, these words placed in the right boxes of your page have a big impact on the user experience.
Think about how a website would look without microcopy. Shapes, colors, and buttons everywhere, but you wouldn’t be able to find anything on the map.
Text is the basis of our communication. Written words bear the power that no other media has. This is why we translate books, add captions to videos. That’s why we shouldn’t underestimate the benefit UX copy provides.
What added value does microcopy provide?
The scope of this vital part of your web design is wide. Microcopy has different functionalities:
- To help your users navigate and find their way around your webpage.
- To engage your users and motivate them to find out more about you.
- To inspire the users to make a purchase or learn from your site.
- To create an enjoyable experience for everyone that comes to your website.
Example: Amazon explaining their shop categories in an inviting, interesting, casual manner in 4 words or less.
Why is microcopy important for UX and SEO?
We understand what difference a few words can make. And now we can comprehend why it is so important for two aspects of our web presence – UX and SEO.
Users visit your website searching for information, for a value they think you can provide them with. Even if you do offer the best possible value, it matters a lot if this information is accessible. And if the users can find it on your web easily.
A website with simple navigation is well awarded by Google spiders. Google spiders measure the time people spend on your site and analyze whether they will return. Thus, if users find it easy to navigate and like spending time on your site, they will come back again.
How to Write UX Microcopy Like a Pro
You have probably noticed how some websites are simply difficult to get around. You might have also realized – sometimes some words don’t tell you anything.
To be able to kill at UX microcopy, you should pay attention to the three important aspects of it.
- The main aspect of microcopy refers to what it should look like. Know the main rules of what makes a good microcopy before you start working on it.
- The second important thing you should know is the roadmap of designing a good microcopy. When you work on it step by step, the odds of making a mistake will be slim.
- And last, but not least – always make room for improvement. UX is a living thing, as some experts would say. This means there will always be something new to learn from your users, and novel ideas to experiment on.
So, let’s go deeper into what makes a well-written microcopy, and what are the key steps to creating one.
What Makes a Good Microcopy
There are X elements to a quality, pleasant microcopy. When you work UX writing for a website, make sure your output checks out all of these boxes.
#1 Your text is simple
Word your text clearly. Choose simple, clear words that everyone will understand. This is not the place to show off the fancy words.
#2 Your text is compact
A good microcopy is concise. It goes straight to the point. There is no fluff, not a word more than there has to be. It is short and tells you everything you need to know.
#3 Your text is charming
UX microcopy simply values more if it can put a smile on our faces. Good microcopy is seductive, makes us feel good, and clever to be on your site.
This is the aspect where you should think outside of the box. Try not to be basic and boring. Charm the users and intrigue them.
#4 Your text is inviting
However, inviting does not equal promoting. Inviting means that if people want to learn more, your one step ahead making it easy for them to explore. For example, if you wish to drive traffic to your Shopify store, the doorway to it should be visible on your website at all times.
Example: Grammarly button inviting people to add their extension.
#5 Your text is useful
One of the primary functions of microcopy is to be helpful. If a piece of UX text does nothing to support your visitor, then it shouldn’t be there.
#6 Your text is coherent
A good UX writer always has the full picture in mind. The text you provide for the menu, navigation menu, buttons, and descriptions must fit well into the rest of the page.
Think about the correlation between the brand voice and the visual identity of your website. In UX design, a microcopy writer represents the brand voice.
When working with a web designer, your outcome should be a genuine reflection of your brand.
How to Write UX Microcopy Step By Step
Many people think to themselves “Everybody can do this” when they are talking about microcopy. Yes, everybody can ramble lines of text on a landing page. But that is not UX writing.
You are not free of mistakes in writing a UX copy. To avoid mistakes, you should use a systematic approach and develop your text step by step. Besides, you can take advantage of the top text editors to achieve this particular result.
Step #1 Know your audience
However silly this may seem, we must always keep this thought in our minds at all times.
In practice, it often happens that you have a brilliant idea for a microcopy style. It is creative, funny, no one has anything like it. So, why doesn’t it work?
In marketing, just as in business, we must remember that not all of our ideas are gold.
And, in UX design and writing, it often happens that while expressing our creativity – we forget to analyze if the audience will be able to appreciate our effort.
Step #2 Define your voice
We have mentioned briefly how your writing should be aligned with the brand voice. To be able to write content that is casual, inviting, interesting, you should find the right tone of that voice.
One of the ways to find your voice is to think about how your website would sound if it could talk to the users?
Another useful way to keep your voice consistent is to describe it. Think about 3 key aspects of your voice and tone, and always align your text to match them.
Step #3 Simplify
Making your UX text simple is mandatory: although this is often the hardest part.
To overcome this challenge, write the text you think you should, without limitations in length and simple wording.
Then analyze your text. Cut out the unnecessary verbs and adjectives. If a word is uselessly fancy, find a simpler synonym.
By the end of this butchering process, you will have the perfect clearness of the text.
Step #4 Make it friendly
Since your text is there to provide help, assistance, and guidance, it should have a friendly tone.
Provide a friendly handout by making your text warmer and more pleasant. Avoid being formal and rigid. Write it openly, and provide comfort for your users.
Watch out: making your text more casual doesn’t mean it should lose its simplicity. Beware of adding useless words that would break your concept.
Example: Infinity uses emojis to communicate casually with its target group.
Step #5 Don’t go overboard
The key to quality microcopy is finding the right balance. Just as writing a great blog post, keep it simple and focus on the essentials.
The whole point of microcopy is to be of assistance. So, pay attention that your copy is not promotional, intense, suffocating even to the web visitors.
Example: The choice of words (“Go paperless.”) Evernote chose to explain the purpose of their document scanning feature.
Step Up Your UX Microcopy Game
Now that we have covered the key points to what makes a good microcopy, it is time to talk about the next level.
UX writing, like any other field of work, is a never-ending learning opportunity. The design process, thus, doesn’t end once we have finished the copy.
To become better at microcopy, gather regular insights from the user activity on the website. Analyze their behavior and the usefulness of your text.
Experiment. If you have an idea of how to make the copy different, go with it. Track the user experience to see if you are onto something.
If your copy needs improvement and isn’t giving the results you hoped for, do not be discouraged. Learning what doesn’t work is as important as figuring out what does.
UX is a two-way communication channel. Users receive information from you via your online presence. You receive the information from them using their activity on your site.
Gathering this behavioral data can help you make strategic decisions. This is how the recruitment and hiring process works in big companies, and this is how you recruit the good microcopy and fire the bits of text that don’t work for you.
Microcopy is not as simple as most people seem to think. It is a complex, creative, detailed aspect of web development and design.
In copywriting you measure each word, but in microcopy, you do a lot more than that. Every word choice counts. Every phrase matters. Every interpunction sign can be a deal-breaker.
But, above all, there is no unique recipe for how to write microcopy, and know for sure you’ve done an excellent job. Even if you know your target group – people tend to surprise you.
This is why your micro text should be evolving along with your design elements on the website. Listen to what your users are struggling with, and make it easier for them.
Author: Nina Petrov is a content writer, passionate about graphic design, content marketing, and the new generation of green and social businesses. She starts the day scrolling her digest on new digital trends while sipping a cup of coffee with milk and sugar. Her white little bunny tends to reply to your emails when she is on vacation.