Microcopy: a short way to improve UX

Mar 12, 2018
Microcopy: a short way to improve UX

Each aspect of a web resource, including design, layout, navigation system, searching options and content shouldn’t cause confusion or irritation.

Instead, it  strive to be easy and pleasant to use for people. In short, you should care about website usability. One of ways to make your website more user-friendly is putting the right content in the right place. We continue to provide you with tips for writing effective web content, and today we’ll give you a few more tips about tiny pieces of content with macro influence on user experience, called microcopy.

What is microcopy?

Not everyone is familiar with the term “microcopy,” but everyone has definitely seen it plenty of times on the web — on confirmation pages, 404 Not Found pages, error messages, registration forms, and even in email newsletters. Microcopy is a short text written in a small font, which carries important message for users. It handles their concerns right on the spot, as it is very contextual. It’s better to show it than to try to explain it, so look at examples below and you’ll recognize a microcopy at once.

How to write a microcopy that improves user experience?

Assure users that changes aren’t irreversible

If your website offers an opportunity for creating user accounts or any registration forms, predict what site visitors feel. People usually hesitate and feel fear of an unfortunate choice when they have to think of names, usernames, or nicknames, or when having to tie a profile to an email address, phone number, etc. that could change later. That’s why you can make this decision making process less difficult for your users and encourage them to sign in by assuring them them that any data they put in will be available to change at any time.

tumblrs microcopy

Tumblr’s microcopy: “And don’t stress about it. You can change this stuff whenever.”

Ensure that data loss is prevented

Just imagining that the results of long hours of hard work could be lost forever is a real nightmare. It can even spoil a career. Fortunately, Internet technologies allow you to avoid this risk. However, those who have ever faced this scenario know how important is to feel safe knowing that important files can’t be lost. If your online service presupposes users working with their data and you implement autosave or backups, then tell this good news to your users to bring them a sigh of relief.

microcopy in google docs

Microcopy in Google Docs: “All changes saved in Drive”

Reduce fear of spam

Everyone hates spam, as well as any annoying and intrusive messages. When you ask your users to entrust their personal data to you, reassure them that your service won’t abuse their trust and they won’t regret this. If only you really intend not to access their social media accounts and emails in ways  people don’t agree to, than let them know it.

memonics microcopy

Memonic’s microcopy: “Never shared, never spammed” below the field requiring you to enter an email address.

Explain what's the matter and how to solve an issue

While filling up web forms people make some mistakes or typos. It’s natural and happens very frequently. Microcopy help your users reduce confusion and quickly sort out what is wrong. Avoid vogue sentences like “One of fields is missing or incorrect” or even “Either your password or username are incorrect.” Instead, specify what fields need corrections and in what way. If the password isn’t secure or long enough, tell users exactly how many characters it should contain and what characters can satisfy your requirements.

The more precise explanations and recommendations your microcopy will give, the better user experience it’ll provide. Let users feel your helping and guiding hand, and don’t discourage them from interacting with your web resource.

mailchimps microcopies

MailChimp’s microcopies “An email address must contain a single @” and “Another user with this username already exist.” explain error origins. (“Maybe it’s your evil twin. Spooky” provokes a smile).

Strengthen offer value and give more details

The above mentioned example of a sign-in page contains one more microcopy type, we will focus on now: “Create a free MailChimp account to send beautiful emails to customers, contributors, and fans.” This microcopy repeats the call to action from the short heading but also complements and extends it.

Its purpose is to draw users attention into the opportunities that this account can give and benefits they’ll get after successful registration. Like in the Power BI example below, microcopy help to convince users to take an action — to sign in, sign up or log in.

microcopy power bi pro

Microcopy: “Power Bi Pro enables you to collaborate across departments and distribute content to your organization. Sign in or sign up for a free 60-day trial.”

So, in conclusion, predict things your users might want to have clarified and think of things you would like to emphasize on your website, then write appropriate microcopy where it’s needed. Keep it short and useful.

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