A word is mightier than the sword, particularly in UX. Words can be the difference between making an interaction painful or delightful. They are the guides, integrated to the design, that will create the experience with your product.
You’ve got to make each word count. Each must speak and mean those specific actions you want the user to take.
According to a study by Jakob Nielsen, 79% of users don’t read, they either scan or skim. Only 16% read word-by-word.
You’d better start writing meaningful texts.
Let’s start by defining what it is. Is all about designing the conversation the user will have with your interface. All those things people will interact with (button labels, menus, notes, CTAs, instructions, terms & conditions, error messages, etc).
The point of a good copy is for it to be invisible and work together as a whole with the design. You could have the most perfect UI, but if your copy is not equally good, your user won’t engage with it. The whole experience you aimed to create will be overwhelmed by bad writing.
Short words help your users understand your product and make it easier to use.
The Holy Trinity of a Good Copy
You have to keep in mind three elements: audience, business goals, and the personality of your product.
Get to really know who you are talking to. Your audience’s likes and dislikes, their behavior. Every word you use is part of the conversation. Make it an interesting one.
Focus on what you are trying to achieve. Is it to increase sales? generate awareness? promote a cause? or increment loyalty? Each word and phrase should be aimed to fulfill those goals.
The personality you give to your product defines your user’s behavior.
Create a bond and give it a human side: is it going to be fun and warm, formal and cold? Establish the personality your product from the get go.
Forget using too far-fetched words. They can quickly overwhelm and bore your user.
Be furiously consistent. Specially if a concept appears in different contexts. Let’s say the buttons label are: your photos, your settings, your history; and suddenly they change to: my profile, my likes, my calendar.
Going from “you” to “me” is just confusing. Your user won’t know what to do, what it means. Define the guidelines you’ll use and follow them.
Be brief but comprehensive. Don’t waste your readers time. Make it short, and then cut it in half. Be clear on what you mean and choose the right words.
It’s important that you model a clear interaction to your users. Important features first. Make you app easy and intuitive to explore.
Each text should have a clear purpose to facilitate this interaction. Transparent names and commands are essential. Your user shouldn’t have to look up the meaning of a word.
Above all, be straightforward in the message you want to give. Addressing and placing each action correctly will save time and effort for everyone involved.
In Simple Words
Gary Halbert, a recognized marketing copywriter, describes perfectly what I’m trying to say,
What I am doing here is taking the reader by the hand and leading him exactly where I want him to go. It seems like a small point and, maybe it is, but is the little touches like this that keeps the letter flowing, the reader moving along, it relieves him of the burden of trying to figure out what he is supposed to do when he finishes reading a particular page.
You should write to make your user experience simpler and easier. Aim to make smooth and pleasant interactions. You want to leave them with a good taste in their mouths.
Like a Couple, Side by Side
UX writing must be involved in the design process since the beginning. Let me explain with an example,
Let’s say you are designing a web page for company X, and maybe the designer may never takes the copy into account until the end. On the other side, a copywriter may not not take into account the design. Later, when incorporating those elements, they just don’t fit. The design doesn’t portrait the goals the copy must show, and the copy interferes with the user flow the design aims to create.
This can easily be avoided by having the designer and the copywriter work hand in hand, complementing each other’s work.
Giving an equal importance to the copy as to the design avoids rework and misunderstandings of the actions your user must take to get work done.
Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.
A Little Extra Stuff
If you want to improve, or just feel like practicing your copywriting skills, a good friend of mine shared this UX Writing Challenge. Every day, you’ll get a challenge based on a real UX situations. You’ll this for 14 days,
Come on my designer friends, lets get on writing!