Are you in the 12%?

A survey of 183 large companies across 4 countries uncovered that 84% of companies forget to design half of their stakeholders’ user experience.

Are you pleased with your design team? They’ve presented you with smooth user journeys that are logical and engaging. The designs are beautiful. Now you’re good to move to the agile dev phase.

Stop right there.

You’ve left the half of the experience out of your design process. We use 2 of our 5 senses in most digital experiences: sight and sound.

Word choice doesn’t get as much attention as wireframes do. Copy is key to cultivating deeper engagement and influencing decisions among your users.

Really great UX writing can help your product stand out in even the most crowded markets.

The words you choose to use in your interfaces, the language you use to create your guided tutorials, and even the phrasing of your push notifications — can have an immense impact on the overall feel and success of your product.

Decreasing Attention Spans

With user attention spans seemingly decreasing all the time, we have a very limited window in which to help new users understand our product and highlight how it can help improve their lives. Every word needs to earn its place. Replace cerebrally titillating words with small ones that are used everyday. Your product is splattered with places you could lose a user, why add more black holes by writing language that only makes sense if one reads it over again?

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

A lot of our clients come to us with archaic technical jargon in their UX writing is because the copy was written by their engineers, not by us, UX practitioners. Consider the following examples:

  • An authentication error has occurred.” vs. “The password you entered was incorrect.
  • You must be an authorised user to access this page.” vs. “Log in to comment.
  • You have examined 17,652 data points this period.” vs. “You’ve reviewed 90% of your reports for the month.

Preempt User Questions: Benefit-Driven Copy Trumps Feature-Driven Copy

A fundamental part of sales is to preempt the customers most common objections that fall under the umbrella: What’s in it for me? 

In much the same way, we preempt your users’ questions as they use your product. Even the best-designed user pathways are sure to elicit questions from your users. We must these questions so we can answer them in our UX writing.

Although you can probably anticipate many of your users’ potential questions, assumptions are a poor substitute for cold, hard data. For over a decade, I’ve drawn upon actual user testing data to help identify potential questions your users may have.

The same principle applies to your calls-to-action. Countless websites ask visitors to “sign up for our newsletter” without giving a single reason why visitors should sign up for their newsletter. Which of the following is more compelling?

  • Get our Newsletter
  • Subscribe to receive insightful, actionable tips for busy professionals, every Monday morning.

It’s definitely harder to fit the second line of copy on a button, but it tells your audience exactly why signing up for your newsletter will help them succeed at work, which is what they really want.

Branding isn’t just about colour, it’s about a style guide.

As of last month 2018, there were more than 4 million apps available for download via Google Play, and more than 2 million on Apple’s App Store. I’m not even going to try to quantify the number of websites!

With so many apps competing for users’ time — and attention — standing out is becoming increasingly difficult, even for genuinely innovative apps and products. Join the few that are doing it right and infuse personality and character into your UX writing.

Great UX writing helps your users, but it also helps define your brand’s voice and the character of your product. It’s no longer enough to just create great products; you also have to clearly define your brand and what it stands for if you hope to appeal to today’s increasingly discerning consumers.

Write for Humans, Not Robots

A common mistake many UX practitioners make when writing UX copy is failing to consider how tone can — and should — change, depending on the situation and where the user is in their journey in your product.

For example, let’s say a user has successfully completed their very first action in your product or app. This would be a great opportunity to use a more casual, conversational tone and appropriate language. Many apps use moments like these to reinforce a sense of fun, playfulness, and irreverence, like “Oops!”. Move away from utilitarian language like “User input failed”, using phrases like “Yay!” reinforces the idea that your product or app is fun, approachable, and accessible, and also provides the user with positive reinforcement, which further boosts engagement.

There are times, however, when the style and tone of your brand voice should be a little more reserved. For example, if you’re asking a user to make a considerable decision, such as completing a transaction or signing up for a subscription plan, it’s probably best to use more reassuring language.

One way to plan for these touchpoints and the tone your UX writing should take is to create a tone journey map for each of the major milestones in your user pathways:

Creating a visualization of the touchpoints users will experience as they move through your product or app is an excellent way of establishing a baseline for the style and tone of your brand voice. As with virtually everything in UX, there are situational exceptions to these “rules,” but a tone journey map is a great foundation for your UX writing that can help reinforce your brand values and principles and help users get the most out of your product.

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is leveraging your UX writing to improve usability. This sounds simple, but it’s deceptively difficult. We’ve worked with Calm, the Apple App of the Year 2017 and Wikipedia, to name a few. Connect with me and the rest of the Ducks – we’ll take care of it for you!

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