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Think Small: The Art and Science of Writing UX Microcopy

Posted on the 01 May 2019 by Marketingtango @marketingtango
Think Small: The Art and Science of Writing UX Microcopy

Think Small: The Art and Science of Writing UX Microcopy

By now, marketers understand that a great website is more than the sum of its parts...and that some of those parts can be really, really small. We're already thinking about micro-moments, and now it's time to master microcopy, those blurbs and phrases that can have an outsized impact on UX, and ultimately, conversion.

By microcopy, we mean calls to action, search bar copy, menu titles, offers, even that blurb warning your audience that there are only four widgets left and someone in Vermont just added one to their cart. Here's how to write it right.

Think Concise, Not Just Short

Since 'micro' is in the name, you already know it's going to be short. However, microcopy still needs to convey instruction and a feel for your brand. Case in point: you could label a link 'Visit Online Store.' But you could also use the copy 'Looking for gifts?' or 'Solutions for Professionals.' With just a few extra characters, you are solving a customer problem, showing your brand's personality, and creating an experience.

Inspire Action

Microcopy serves many roles - it's a branding tool that tells a story and reveals your company's values but its primary reason for being is to get your audience to take a single, discrete bit of action.

To do this well, write in the active voice, the subject-verb-object construction (e.g., 'Our towels are 100% sustainable.'). Or load up on the verbs to create a sense of immediacy. Notice the difference between 'If you'd like to receive our newsletter, sign up here' and 'Sign up for our newsletter.'

Consistency is Key

A big part of building trust is consistency: using the same language and names, and even keeping the copy in first person or third person through the entire site. For example, if you're offering a free whitepaper or case study as a means of enticing people to sign up for your mailing list, refer to it the same way everywhere on your page - not "free whitepaper" in one place, then "free download" in another.

Tell the Whole Truth

Words for integrated marketers to live by: don't try to trick or manipulate your audience. Label everything clearly and prepare users for what's next. If you're offering that free white paper in exchange for an email address, make sure to let your audience know exactly what they have to do. According to one recent survey, 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a site once they've had a bad experience, so you can't afford to ding your credibility by baiting and switching!

Last modified: April 29, 2019

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