UX and Microcopy: How Relevant is Microcopy in the Digital UX?

Almost two decades have passed since Bill Gates uttered the now-famous phrase- “content is king”. This famous phrase still holds true today because words can make all the difference in the digital world. No matter the size of the words, those tiny bits of copy on products make a huge difference and can collectively make a significant impact!

This blog will outline what Microcopy is, its relevance in UX design, and how it contributes to shaping the essential elements of user experience. We will also demonstrate why Microcopy matters in this day and age and discuss the best practices associated with this skill. Furthermore, we will examine the features of an excellent microcopy and provide you with some tips to improve your microcopy writing skills. Let’s get started. Here is what we will cover:

What is Microcopy?

Have you ever noticed those tiny tidbits of information written on apps, websites, and other digital products? They are short, easy to understand, and very precise. They may be tiny little clusters of text; however, underestimating their value is costly. This copy on websites, apps, and products is called Microcopy.

These tiny texts may seem insignificant at a glance. What does copy have to do with overall app design, you may wonder? However, error messages, labels, hints, and prompts form a relevant part of successful UX and quickly direct the users to go in the right direction. Words hold the true power in UX and are considered powerful tools to bring about substantial conversion rates.

Why is Microcopy Important?

Microcopy in User Interface guides users and tells them what to do, leading and aiding the users in their navigation. These teeny weeny small words help provide context to a situation and enhance the whole design. Their impact is tremendous, and for this reason, Microcopy cannot be overlooked at any cost.

Developers and designers advise reviewing Microcopy when things aren’t working as they should be. This shows how important Microcopy is in building an effective website or app. Without it, users will lose themselves in the UI and ultimately form negative views of products or brands. As a result, a product’s reputation may get tarnished, thus affecting the brand value.

Is Microcopy the same as UI copy, UX copy, and Microcontent?

The term microcopy was coined in the year 1998 by Jakob Neilsen to represent features such as headings, subheadings, preview, summary, etc. Since its introduction, there has been an overlap in terminologies as new copy-related concepts such as UI copy, UX copy, Microcontent emerged.

However, it is also inconclusive as this question is relative and depends on who you ask. For instance, UI copy and UX copy are distinguished on the same terms as UI design and UX design. We are already familiar with the idea that UI refers to visual elements and UX, on the other hand, deals with practical or more functional aspects. Even with this distinction, you cannot debate the fact that UI and UX complement each other. To conclude, the same analysis on distinction can be applied between Microcopy and its counterparts.

Why Should You Care About Microcopy?

One could wonder: why care about Microcopy at all? After all, they are merely a few words. But if we are really honest, we would realize that words have significant power. A straightforward way to establish this is to remove Microcopy from the screen and see what happens simply. Without it, It is an essential and perhaps the most crucial tool in communication. We use words to communicate, explain, and educate each other. And this sums up the objective of microscopy as well.

Therefore, without Microcopy, a user stands at risk of not understanding your product or brand, and all may be lost! It is imperative that we avoid this oversight and start giving Microcopy the value it deserves.

Good Microcopy Matters

Why does Microcopy matter? This question has a straightforward answer. Microcopy fulfils its objective to gain the customer’s trust. Especially in situations where you are asked to enter sensitive data, and you immediately feel apprehensive. Then you notice a small text underneath that informs you that your data is safe! You immediately feel relieved.

Customer satisfaction is another reason why good microcopy matters. Microcopy is the magical trust-inducing word that paves the way for ultimate customer satisfaction. Words are primary tools for interaction with customers, and as such, a good UI/UX company utilizes a good microcopy to improve conversion rates. It is essential to note it’s not just words that matter but the right words that make all the difference.

Traits of Microcopy: What Constitutes Good Microcopy?

Good Microcopy and generic Microcopy are two different things. They help designers develop products that are way more engaging and simple to use. While generic Microcopy is also commonly used in digital products, certain traits or features constitute good and effective Microcopy.

Let’s take a look at what constitutes effective UX microcopy:

  • The instructional text will be clear, concise and very easy to comprehend.
  • Helps establish the voice and tone of the brand or product.
  • Blends very quickly with the design.
  • Answers queries, meet needs and foster empathy.
  • They are also short, aware, actionable and authentic.

How to Make the Most of Microcopy

Microcopy may be small, but multiple factors are at play when designing great Microcopy. Here are some things to consider when you want to make the most of Microcopy:

  1. Prevent and avoid user mistakes: Some form fields are expected to confuse the users more than the others. In such cases, it is advised to identify those areas of concern through testing and analytics and perhaps even redesign them. However, the use of copy can also solve the problem.
  2.  Be equipped to handle queries and doubts: Some situations may warrant questions and doubts, and copy plays a pivotal role in dealing with those customer questions and doubts. This way, it helps reassure the customers.
  3.  Make forms conversational: We may use copy to make the journey more friendly, amusing and fun. There is no point in using a language that the customers fail to understand as that would beat the whole purpose.
  4. Gather marketing consent: Forms demand sensitive data, and customers must be provided opportunities to make explicit and informed choices. We live in a post-GDPR era; therefore, Microcopy can be used to reassure users about marketing consent.
  5. Revisit Microcopy: It is good practice to analyze Microcopy when your digital product is not performing well. More often, a simple edit in Microcopy may create a huge difference.

Microcopy Do’s and Don’ts

Microcopy maybe a few short words, but writing an effective microcopy is more complicated than you think. Your word choice would determine whether or not the Microcopy is doing its job. A good microcopy facilitates good UX, and we are already aware of the benefits of excellent User Interaction Design.

Let’s look at some do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing excellent and effective Microcopy.

What to do (and not to do!):

  • Do- Decide beforehand where to use Microcopy. Consider the context first and then the location of where your copy should go.
  • Don’t- Do not use vague and ambiguous words. Provide enough information to avoid clutter and refrain from using complex language.
  • Do- Write to your target audience at all costs. The main goal here is to aid users to perform specific tasks. Therefore, a generic copy may not always serve the same purpose.
  • Don’t: Do not use tone-deaf and unengaging language that may mislead your audience.
  • Do- stay true to your brand and company values. Use Microcopy to strengthen your brand.
  • Don’t- Do not exclude people or practice ‘confirshaming’. Both are super risky.

Top Tips to Create Effective Microcopy

  1. Make sure your copy is clear and concise. The whole point here is to limit the user’s cognitive load and make information easy to process.
  2. Words should look as good as they sound. Therefore it is vital to make words fit and blend well in the web design.
  3. Using simple language is another essential aspect to consider when writing Microcopy. We want our words to add value, not confusion and anxiety.
  4. Maintain your brand’s tone of voice at all times. Writing simple Microcopy doesn’t necessarily mean that you should curb your creativity.
  5. Make it conversational as if you are writing for real people. A casual and friendly tone goes a long way.

Best Examples of Good Microcopy

We have established what constitutes a good Microcopy. Now, let’s consider the best microcopy examples and see what they look like. Listed below are some examples of Microcopy done right.

  • Spotify: A single phrase like “no credit card needed” makes all the difference in the Spotify app. The design layout is spot on, and so is the Microcopy. There is absolutely no clutter, and Microcopy looks like a magic sentence!
  • Booking.com: This website uses a lot of Microcopy and helps users in website navigation. The users are always reassured before they make a booking or if they wish to cancel one.
  • GoFundMe: GoFundMe is a great example of how it constitutes a good Microcopy. They successfully help manage user expectations and offers valuable advice through copy.
  • Flicker: One of the best features of this site is how they help users correctly set a password. The copy helps you set up the correct password that meets all the requirements while setting up one, not after.
  • Uber Eats: The search bar placeholder in UberEats that says,” what are you craving?” makes a great example of essential Microcopy.
  • Starbucks: The quirky text informing the users about website cookies on this site is all you need to make up your mind about buying a real cookie!

Future of Microcopy in Design

Microcopy has become a cornerstone of today’s digital experience. It facilitates brand engagement like no other and continues to have a massive impact on both UX and conversions. However, to perceive Microcopy as a one time feature will land you in trouble. We need to review and revise it consistently to enhance user engagement to the maximum. To maintain this level of consistency is no small feat either.

The future of Microcopy also lies in inclusivity. If you disregard any demographic in the process, it will cost you all your hard work. Therefore, seek information from content designers and UX writers before deciding on something solid. For instance, if your filters UI Design does not support diversity and accessibility, it may result in a massive negative impact on your conversion rate. So be wise and try even more challenging to be inclusive.

Conclusion

Microcopy is ubiquitous. It can be found anywhere and everywhere in digital products available today. They are a small yet very powerful tool that makes a considerable impact on the overall user experience. However small it may seem, it takes skill to create an effective Microcopy. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and so are the latest digital trends. One must keep up with upcoming changes to stay competitive. Microcopy skills are no different.

Whether you are an aspiring designer or UX writer, Microcopy is an essential skill to master. It will help you measure the clarity of your text and ensure that Microcopy resonates with your target audience. As with all things UX, you need to begin your writing after conducting inclusive research and continuous tests. Test, test and test some more!

Microcopy can be intimidating at first; however, writing copy for a product doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember, a good copy is always better than any generic copy. Make sure your text speak to your users; learn their jargon if you may! Don’t worry if you are a beginner and new at this. Keep in mind the tips mentioned above, and you should be able to write amazing Microcopy. Best of luck!

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