“The details are not the details. They make the design.” Charles Eames.
Words alone provide 95 per cent of the information we need for communication. So every bit of content counts, even the small words.
You may have the most fascinating, and innovative interface design but without the right words to build trust and guide the user, the design is incomplete. Including one little piece of microcopy can help carry the entire design to reduce ambiguity and improve user retention.
In this article, we’ll define microcopy and discuss why they matter to you and your website. You’ll also get lots of pointers on how to enhance your microcopy writing abilities.
What is microcopy?
Microcopy, also known as UX microcopy, is the short, instructive or instructional text that appears on forms, buttons, search prompts, tip boxes and other similar elements of a website or application. They inform and guide users in completing certain activities, such as looking for items or.
Microcopy is written with the following to keep in mind:
- Simplicity – increases users ability to interact with your copy
- Context – aids users to determine what to do
- Action – employs terms that assist users in completing a task
- Authenticity – builds trust with users and encourages them to take action
The importance of microcopy
Simply removing microcopy from a screen, results in a confusing mess without any guiding text and clearly demonstrates its significance.
Microcopy is important because it makes digital products easier for customers to understand and utilize. Clear microcopy assists users in finding and completing the activities they have in mind.
It can be used to encourage people and establish trust, for example, by clarifying why you’re gathering their personal data.
It has also proved to have a significant impact on conversion rates since it is deeply connected to the activities a user performs. Selecting the correct words and displaying them at the right time in the user journey can make the difference between a user completing a purchase flow and dropping off.
In essence, microcopy provides an excellent opportunity to enhance a product’s entire experience. At the same time, it’s far from a magic bullet. Microcopy is one component of product design that must be coordinated with the voice and tone of your business.
The impacts of microcopy on your website
Effective microcopy tries to understand and meet user expectations. When a consumer visits a website or uses an application, they may have a lot of questions. With few guidelines, microcopy can try to address these questions throughout their journey.
UX microcopy can also be used in increasing engagement, delivering empathy and transparency, as well as creating a sense of clarity and control.
1Clarity and control
When users visit your website or application and your message isn’t clear, they’ll often leave the website right away. Microcopy can help to reduce this risk, allowing you to effortlessly redirect the user’s attention with concise and clear messaging on various UI elements.
For example, Slack uses a clear microcopy to let the user know exactly what is happening or will happen. Using microcopy on or around buttons tell users what occurs next in a sign-up process which makes them feel more in control.
Also, an effective microcopy does not have to take up the whole page to express clarity, it can be short and straightforward. The main goal is to minimize anxiety and better inform users and that’s exactly what microcopy does for you.
2Builds user empathy
By combining microcopy with emotion, you can increase engagement and build a greater connection with your users.
As they grow familiar with the brand’s personality, users are drawn to brands that make them feel good about themselves. This type of emotion can be determined by the brand’s design and what your users desire.
However, how can one create empathy with the user? First, you need to know what your users are looking for by doing extensive user research. Then have a deep understanding of the user’s behaviour and unmet requirements, this will help create a strong empathetic microcopy.
For example, Slack refined an error message to convey a sense of empathy for the situation, particularly when the situation is negative. As a result of this approach, the microcopy strategy for each situation can shift the user’s feelings from unpleasant to enjoyable.
Since the digital world is full of security and privacy problems, users may be sceptical when requested to input their personal information or make a transaction on your website.
Microcopy can help change that by establishing trust and improving transparency, telling the user why the information is being requested and how it will be used.
For example, during the signup process for LinkedIn’s premium service, they explain in detail why they require credit card information and how to prevent getting charged in the process. Using this type of microcopy to show transparency helps to develop brand trust.
So, rather than expecting users to provide all that information without question, you can let them know what happens afterwards and assure them that their information is safe with you.
This will assist the user in completing an action on your site. However, you should be mindful of disclosing too much background information. Instead, try to provide your consumers with little indications and reassurance.
4Prompt to take action
The goal of every UX designer is to get people to interact with the website or application. A microcopy can help in this process. It encourages visitors to interact with the content and complete activities.
People are often sceptical about taking any action on the website. However, using effective microcopy can assist in task completion, increase engagement, and inspire users to go further and achieve more.
So how do you encourage new users to take action? Giving a reason to do something can encourage users to go through it. For example, Grammarly utilises simple and concise homepage content that guides users.
The button could have simply stated ‘Add to Chrome’, but the added ‘It’s free’ instantly reassures the user and adds a sense of urgency.
Four tips on how to write better microcopy
To improve your microcopy game, always remember to write according to your company’s goals and brand identity. There are a lot of ways to improve your writing skills but we’ll give you four tips on how to make your microcopy concise and appealing.
If your company/product already has voice and tone guidelines in place, you’re already ahead of the game—just make sure everything you write matches those standards. If you don’t already have voice and tone rules, you should create them.
There are often space limitations while creating digital interfaces. But it isn’t the only reason to use as few words as possible while maintaining clarity:
The more words we use, the greater cognitive strain we have. Aiming for a maximum of three words per button may not always be attainable, but it’s a good starting point.
3Keep it clear
A good piece of microcopy speaks your user’s language. Users will leave if they don’t understand what’s going on. And how can we determine what is clear?
By conducting background research and soliciting user feedback. Talk to your users, learn how they communicate, then shape your writing around them.
4Test the copy
You should test your microcopy with real users, just like you do with everything else in UX. This will allow you to assess its clarity and ensure that it is understood by your intended audience.
Just because a set of content works well and makes sense to you and your team, it does not guarantee that it will work for all of your users! Test and then repeat and test again!
Ready to upgrade microcopy on your website?
Overall, microcopy offers clarity, context, promotes importance, and establishes clear expectations for users. It has a significant influence on satisfaction and conversation for such a small amount of content.
If you want to learn more about UX writing, at Morphosis digital consultancy, we love to explore the true worth of UX design and content marketing. You can check out our work for more references and see how we can help you create a great website using microcopy.