· How to write a stellar copy
· Examples of copies with impact
· Measuring the success of your copy
· Upgrade as a Writer
What is UX writing?
UX writing is about making your product more human, almost as if someone is speaking to you directly.
It’s about capturing, succinctly, just the information your customer needs to accomplish a task. As a writer your job is to identify problematic areas and possible confusions that the user may face while on your interface and address those before users encounter them.
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Mention in your page any additional information that will be of concern to the user, like while signing up for their services the customer’s data will not be shared to the third party. Make everything transparent and clear.
Your writing should enable users to navigate through your products seamlessly, like a bump-free road. Example: When Chargebee amped-up their UI they asked the existing users to shift to the new version, yet allowing the facility to use the classic version for those who may still find that easier. The end goal is to make the journey easier for the user.
Is UX Writing different than Copywriting?
These terms are used interchangeably. But a Copywriter’s job is to drive the Sales of a Product, while a UX Writer supports the UX Design with the most appropriate words to make the App Experience a delight.
Later in this blog we will talk about how to level up as a UX Writer.
Why does the design team needs writers?
“Copy is Design.” A writer is a language expert who can elevate your designs, make them consistent, polished, and easy to use. The writer may also bring a fresh perspective. More importantly a writer makes the Voice and Tone of the writing consistent, according to your Brand Image and Brand Persona which suits the quality benchmarks that you’re trying to reach. And gives designers one less responsibility to focus on what they do best, Design.
How can you write a Stellar copy?
1. Get familiar with your Brand Voice and Tone, and Brand Persona.
2. Invest time in Research with customers - Understand what they think of your brand.
3. Do an Internal Survey.
4. Keep the Tonality of your copy Consistent.
5. American or British English? Stick to one depending upon the audience.
6. Focus on Brevity. Your copy must always be scannable - the attention span of an average reader is about 7 seconds, so keep your lines short with 25 words or less.
Hack: When confused about which words to choose, search them up on Google Trends, and go with the more popular word.
7. Copy must not add to the cognitive load of a user. Do not flood designs with copy. Do not try to sell your business.
8. Use a tone you’re familiar with. The more familiar your copy sounds, the easier your interface will be to use.
9. Use Active Voice and state your objective first, and then tell the users how to use a function. Example: If you’re designing a screen for a cancelation experience, instead of saying “Click this button to cancel your subscription”, you should say: “To cancel your subscription, click cancel”.
Active voice is also the easy to translate to other languages.
10. You need to become your product’s expert: Understand the intricacies of your product. Make sure you’re a part of all meetings with developers. Read user stories, analyze and understand what the users want exactly. Know what changes a Feature brings to your product. And always fact check with PMs after writing your first draft as accuracy is critical.
11. Content Language System: Capture copy that can be reused across your website/ application, and keep it in a repository so that all writers can access that and reuse those copy elements that you have added there, like button names.
12. Copy must not be Ambiguous or Non-Committal. Don’t write in the way that might evoke doubts in the mind of the reader.
For example, a non-committal message can be: “Oops! Something went wrong” because you’re telling the user: we don’t know what has happened and we also don’t have a solution for you. You MUST own every issue that users face.
13. Cut everything that users absolutely need not know.
14. Make sure to review the copy during QA, as it’s the final opportunity to fix. Find a way to bring errors to your notice because there is always a scope to do better.
If you over communicate, or the customer sees that the copy of your product is too cumbersome to read, they are most likely to skip it. Try to make the text crisp. Perform User Research and ask the users, your end party, what it is that you could do to make sure that don’t require outside help and they consume the copy that is provided before them.
What if there is no other choice than to mention all the information about the product in your copy?
Remember, if cognitive load is too much for the users to handle, your product experience will fail invariably.
How can you measure the success of your Copy?
1. Customer Calls – get into calls with customers and talk to them about their experience with using your product.
2. Constantly examining support tickets – read into support tickets and look for issues your copy could solve.
3. Fullstory videos (use a tool that lets you map users' activity and journey on your product) - Sometimes people highlight copy elements but don’t interact which makes you, as a UX Writer question - why did they not take any action? Simplify your copy using this. Look for user actions that may possibly indicate confusion/ambiguity.
It is not possible to quantify the success of your entire copy but you could try subtly asking questions to customers to check whether they have read your copy at all. Or you could ask them how their interaction with copy has been. But you CAN measure the success of a single change in copy on a particular page.
Example: In a 2017 talk, Maggie Stamphill, UX Writer and Content Strategist at Google, spoke of how changing copy caused an increased engagement of 17%. A piece of copy on a room booking website read “Book a room”. It turned out users were simply not ready to commit. They were only exploring. So they then changed the copy to “Check Availability”, just two words that spiked their charts.
Your copy affects your conversions and revenue
A copy builds trust and credibility. Write in a way to show the users that a real person wrote for your product. It increases engagement making the experience more seamless and it increases click through rates because when you say exactly what people want to read, in their language, they click.
What is a Content Style Guide?
It is a single source of reference for all writers on board. It’s a list of the terminology that you want your customers to know, singular to you. It is a set of writing principles that direct all the copy and content of a product.
The guide describes your Content Style, Voice and Tone, and Brand Guidelines. You can set up what your tonality for various user-scenarios. For example: You can set up guidelines for how you’d want to respond to an angry customer, or when a customer has had a success, like a revenue threshold that requires that they move to the next plan. A style guide should be constantly evolved for it to remain relevant.
Example of a style guide:
Chargebee’s CSG includes: Content Language Components; Grammar Guidelines; User Personas; Chargebee Glossary; Writing for Technical Documentation.
Why should we create a content style guide?
1. Lesser copy issues on the app
2. Lesser dependency on writers
3. It is easy to counter subjective internal feedback with a guide.
4. Serves as a source of reference for writers, designers, developers, and everyone else in the company.
Examples that set benchmarks as good style guides
MailChimp, Shopify Polaris, Google Material Guidelines
How to tackle legacy issues
1. Start a copy audit.
2. Organize it effectively – module-wise, topic-wise, and as it suits your product; skim through entire module, every copy element there is.
3. Get into pact with developers to publish the fixes at regular intervals; send batches of these fixes on a quarterly basis. Make sure you upsell the value of the project with your front-end developers, making them believe the fixes can really impact the quality of the product.
4. Publish the errors you fixed to your organization highlighting what was improved.
Upgrading as a writer
Write Write Write
· The more you write the better you get at it. You can follow some UX thought leaders like John Saito, Nick Babich, Fabricio Texerira, Kinneret Yifrah, Scott Kubie, Kristina Halvorson, and Melissa Rach.
· Take feedback seriously, no matter how stupid it sounds to you; especially if it’s from a customer.
· Get your hands on some helpful apps like the Hemingway Editor app or even Grammarly; their tips often help.
· Try to not only focus on UX courses online; rather read up everything there is to read online about UX Writing.
Remember anybody who has a design bent of mind and can write well can unquestionably be a great UX Writer. At first it may be difficult to find the right words, but after you discover your own style and find the power in your words, you’ll create an experience worth the user's while.