When designing an ideal user experience, we think about creating user flow, mockups, aesthetic UI layer, creating style guides with buttons, inputs, and other assets. Design teams often overlook one more factor that significantly affects the whole UX. And usually, that element is microcopy.
How effective is a good microcopy?
Microcopy is a form of conversation that takes place between a digital product and its user. Language, words, messages, alerts, information, explanations, or prompts created with them are intended to enhance the entire user flow.
Well-written microcopy primarily increases user conversion by:
- motivating them to take action,
- predicting and solving problems,
- creating an encouraging narrative.
Choosing the right words eliminates ambiguity and increases trust in the interface – an essential element of conversion. Using it properly will allow you to show empathy and understanding for the customer’s emotions and feelings. Would you like to discover some areas that are a pretty good basis for its implementation? Here are some tips that will help you create a great microcopy.
Show, rather than tell users what to do
Great microcopy helps users do something without having to think about it. Such messages are called calls to action. That’s why the “click here” button is such a popular term. It’s not that you should practice that exact phrase right now. But use words that tell users what’s going to happen. CTA terms commonly used in clickable elements (such as buttons) also include ‘learn more, ‘read more, ‘buy now, ‘get information,’ ‘download,’ ‘submit,’ and etc.
Each of these words is clear, and the recipient is likely to know exactly what should happen when they click the button. Make sure this is the case, for example, by testing it on a group of users.
In the graphic above, you can see two buttons with the text ‘Start for free’ and ‘Explore plans’.
Keep it short
Text on graphics should be an indication, not a hint – so try to be concise. The general rule is: less is more; remember about it when creating your slogans. Microcopy should be short and to the point. For most people interactions, long explanations are not necessary, and too many causes can be overwhelming. If there is a fast and easy way to signal an action or use, do it.
Make sure the slogan is not too long-winded. People don’t spend as much time reading as they did just a few years ago. And if your microcopy is too long, it’s not a “micro” copy at all. It’s easy to stuff your sites with SEO search terms, but the leads they generate are useless if your product isn’t authentic and compelling enough to grab a target group’s attention in seven seconds or less.
Necessary copy should always be visible
Do not use tooltips to show critical information. There are two types of microcopy – elements or instructions. Those are elements that display nonstop and those that appear when needed. The latter often appear in the form of tooltips and hover boxes and can increase some design elements’ usability.
Keep in mind, however, that not all features should hide on hover. Any essential or relevant microcopy should always be visible to users. An example of this would be the information to be entered in a form or what happens when a button is clicked.
A snippet of microcopy used as a tooltip is appropriate for additional information, such as explaining what will happen if the user needs help. For example, an icon next to the text is a signal that the user can find more information if required. When the user hovers over the icon, a tooltip from the microcopy appears.
A case of a tooltip with a valid microcopy.
Of course, you can tailor the tone of the messages you create to your audience, but when it comes to microcopy itself, stay away from jargon known only to graphic designers.
Create messages with your users in mind, not for yourself. The web is full of external products written for internal audiences and all the corporate jargon meant for the design team and stakeholders, not the users. Remember who your real target group is. To appeal to them, you need to ditch the industry’s popular buzzwords and write in a way that speaks directly to them.
Copy example for an undiscovered page. Short, engaging, and not obvious.
Put the text in the right place
The location of the microcopy must conform to standard reading patterns. Most users read from left to right and top to bottom.
In this case, let’s take the registration form under a magnifying glass. One of the required pieces of information is the user’s e-mail address, and therefore the field for entering the e-mail and the form submission button (sing up) should be located directly to the right of the registration or directly below it because that is where the user will be looking for it.
Use a high-contrast placeholder to make it readable. If the text is so pale that it’s hard to read, consider whether you need it at all? You may want to consider removing that placeholder.
Example with the button under form and low contrast text is a placeholder.
Use Helpful Error Messages
Creating excellent and practical microcopy is usually a multi-step process. It is often the creation of a series of messages relating to a single user action. Depending on how the statement reads, you should include a microcopy that confirms that the move was completed or displays an error message when the interaction fails. Such letters provide valuable feedback to users and help them complete tasks on your site.
How to test microcopy?
Wondering the best way to verify that your microcopy is clear, contextual, and supports your product’s usability and overall experience? Test it with real users, iterate and test again.
When you first start writing content for your microcopy, it’s worth going through mockups first and starting to write down action points that are waiting for some copy. It’s then a good idea to briefly brainstorm 5-10 alternative lines, words, and phrases, so you have multiple options for each item.
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Enhance UX of your digital product
Creating the perfect microcopy is not that difficult when you think about what you want users to do with your project and how you want to do it. Think of microcopy as a very simplified user manual. Remember to use standard, short and understandable language, give clear instructions and make it easy to read. Do this, and your microcopy is sure to be a success!