How Microcopy can make a Huge Difference in User Experience

When it comes to offering a great UX on either business site or a mobile app, every aspect is taken into account.

The fonts, color combination, flows, and content; everything counts for delivering a delightful user experience. But, there is another significant component to UX that should not be overlooked in the process of UX design. Yes, you get it right! It’s microcopy that can make a whole lot of difference.

We can say that these little bits of short, smart, and snappy text can have a lot of impact, which can make your customers smile. You can use microcopy in the form of button labels, error messages, and hint text in both applications and websites.

From monotonous to memorable

Microcopy can work wonders while using in the right places with the right punch. It can turn any monotonous task or directive into something memorable for the users.

Read the story to know how microcopy can make a positive impact on UX design:

What is good microcopy?

Okay. Let’s start with defining a good microcopy. However, the success of microcopy depends on various factors like context, brand value, and nature of business; we can make a list of a few commonalities:

  • It should be a short-and-sweet text written by keeping the users in mind.
  • The good microcopy can serve two prime objectives- First, to guide the users through an interface at every operational level of potential uncertainty, and second, to inform them about certain outcomes.

Interestingly, Kathryn Whitenton believes that microcopy can minimize cognitive load, the total amount of mental efforts associated with the learner activities and intellectual performance, thereby enhancing the user’s understanding and interactivity with your interface.

In brief, a good microcopy enables you to understand and reduce the limitations of processing abilities while offering a pleasant user experience in various design aspects like instructional text buttons, field labels, error messages, and drop-down menus. The blend of an amazing UI design and awesome microcopy can become the key to success for your website or application.

It’s time to find what a good microcopy can do for enhancing the user experience:

It can give a human touch

Though the present edge of automation has broadly replaced the manual chatting, people still prefer to interact and chat with the real people. It is an undeniable fact that words on the screen can never replace a real conversation, but you can offer a human touch through an effective microcopy. Such microcopy can sound the product human by showing that the real people have created it. Remember, a human touch enables brands to gain the user’s trust as the users willingly spread word of mouth.

A team communication application Slack, and a product sharing website Product Hunt comes with a warm and welcoming tone every time. Yelp comes up with a highly casual tone to encourage people for leaving an honest review.

Slack

A human and conversational tone in these websites and apps gives users an impression of a friend who’s chatting with them during the entire process.

It retains an element of surprise

The surprise element always becomes a reason for delight. All you need is a well-written message in the right place to bring a smile on the user’s face. You can identify the places where you can put the element of surprise in the form of clever microcopy while designing a website. Some of these points can be a loading screen, an error message, a success message, an onboarding flow, and also an example of the process. You can also astonish the user when they leave your website. You can also make an empty state surprising by putting a delightful message.

IndiaNIC shows a simple message with an image of a cute doggy in a ‘404 page’ to surprise people with a little delight:

IndiaNIC

Tumblr and DropBox are some other examples having an element of surprise. In both these examples, we can find that microcopy used in any unexpected ways can always offer a pleasant surprise to the users.

It boosts confidence

Any apps and websites have some purpose to be served, be it offering some info, taking online orders, or creating something. You, as a designer, can offer users a series of steps to serve the objective. If those steps get boring, some of your users might quit the process in the middle. Here microcopy comes in a picture. It can encourage people to keep flow with motivating and interactive tone in a multi-step flow.

You can give users a friendly push to do something with interesting microcopy. For example, Dribbble encourages users to enter their real names in a friendly manner.

It becomes a little personal

How about adding a user-specific detail in your design? You can entice and retain the visitors with a personalized message. The personalized message is what nobody else could get in the same way. You can replicate the good, personal feeling through microcopy. You can make a person or a group of people feel special through showing a customized message to them.

The dating site OkCupid hails the user’s city while they create a new account that makes the website more familiar to the new user.

OkCupid

Check ‘Ahh, Manhattan’ message for the first-time user on the screen; it certainly gives the feeling of acquaintance with the website. Meetup enables users to customize participants’ names in an attempt to offer a customized experience.

It makes everything more presentable

Okay. It’s time to reveal a shocking fact! Dropbox has over 27k messages in its interface. Do you want to know how big this amount is? The first Harry Potter book has over 6,600 sentences. In other words, Dropbox has four times more sentences than the Harry Potter book. It’s your turn! How many messages are there in your website or an application? You can see them everywhere ranging from the top of the browser to the ALT tags in every image.

Remember, each of your messages has an opportunity to delight, and a good copywriter can grab this opportunity with ease. MailChimp has a last message to show when we log out: See Ya Later! Doesn’t it make the user experience more pleasant? Basecamp’s footer also shows a friendly message that is changeable on a daily basis. Now, this is even more interesting! You get a different message on every weekday that can contribute to making your experience richer with Basecamp.

It can pair with an image

How about pairing words with pictures? It’s said that a picture is worth thousand words, but today, microcopy delights people more while combining with attractive images. A magical combination is what when we combine dreamy images with fanciful words.

You can use photo, illustration, vector, or emoji to get the perfect combination with microcopy. Together they can create a delightful experience for the visitor, which is worthier than the words or pictures alone.

HubSpot’s broken heart image is paired with the tender words to indicate something goes wrong. ‘Slack’ pairs motivational words with a rocket ship emoji to make sure that now everything is fine!

Points to remember

When it comes to making people smile in a smart way, explain errors in a professional way, minimizing doubts, or raise users’ confidence with motivational words, microcopy has no other alternative in the web world.

However, everything stated here is not that easy. Yes, you may find all these points useful, but they are hard to implement for making the right impact on the user’s mind through creating creative microcopy. You also need to keep the dangers of delightful design in mind.

You cannot compromise with brevity and clarity while writing for the interface. But, microcopy usually has longer messages with less clarity. You need to figure out the requirements for the particular brand while optimizing for both clarity and pleasant user experience.

Here are a few checkpoints to remember while adding a fun microcopy in the design:

Make a style guide

Any product or service requires a particular style of microcopy. Many companies have their writing style guide to define tone for particular products and services. It’s good to find and stick to the brand’s voice while creating microcopy to avoid any possible backlash in the future.

Here are some useful tips to create a style guide for the brand.

Don’t make it common

Microcopy is a clever expression for less common flows. However, it can act as a double-edged sword because it can give the users an annoying experience if used in common flows of a website or a mobile app. Never put microcopy at the beginning of an app so that the users have to read them every time while launching. You need to give a fun stuff as an element of surprise wherever you find less common flows.

Take risks when possible

A smaller brand can readily use microcopy with a localized touch. It is easy to attract the local audience with the help of clever microcopy, but when a brand goes global, you need to be careful as the microcopy of inferior quality can be hit hard by the global users. It does not mean that you should remain risk-averse for a global brand. Experimentation with microcopy is always good if you care for monitoring people’s response.

Think different every time

How about considering randomized messages? Yes, you can make the user experience more delightful by showing a different message each time people come to your website or a mobile application. Though it can still have the probability of repetition over time, you can certainly make various operations more surprising and delightful with different microcopy.

Microcopy can have a macro impact on the user experience providing written in a neat and clever manner. Here are some of the benefits of microcopy:

  • Awesome microcopy can engage the users and compel them to visit the site again
  • It can nudge users along user flows and offers better user interaction
  • It can give your users a personalized experience on an individual basis
  • It can make steps interesting and enables companies to admit any error or bug in a fun way
  • It can enhance the user experience while the users go through instructional text buttons, field labels, error messages or any other design-related stuff

It’s a wrap, guys!

I do hope that the story of microcopy will inspire you to look at your site and app in a new light. Microcopy plays a vital role in deciding people’s approach toward your product, so you cannot afford to miss the opportunity to delight your users with words.

A microcopy is not just useful for moving people from one point to another. At times, you can make their ride enjoyable with it. That’s it for now. Enjoy microcopying!

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