Microcopy - Don't forget about the little guys

October 18, 2018
 
by
 
Alex Ryder
,
 
Head of Content
 
, in
 
Strategy
Microcopy - Don't forget about the little guys

Microcopy: those little snippets of text all over your website - link buttons, form field instructions and summary sentences. They all matter and yet often they are overlooked.

Most businesses have a copywriter in house or at the very least a literate marketing manager to curate their content, whether that be product descriptions, advertising copy, blogs or help guides. But how many of them are concentrating on microcopy? In my experience, not many and certainly not enough. Often those one-liners and links get added without thought, or,  placeholder text goes in at the design stage by a designer or developer and there it stays.

With the move towards voice search and an increased focus on conversational user interfaces, what was once the domain of designers is now a shared space with people like me, a crafter of words. UX writing is becoming the ‘in’ thing because what we test and recommend on is no longer purely visual.

Let's get to the point...

You’re probably wondering what voice search and conversational interfaces has to do with microcopy - something which exists to complement the visual design, and something which has been around for a long time. But bear with me. This new focus within the industry sets the scene for my tale - copywriting is well and truly enjoying its golden hour - lit brightly by the UX spotlight. And this is why I’m talking about microcopy. Because, just maybe, these wider changes will allow the little guy to get a look in. The little guy is (you guessed it) microcopy.

On the surface, it’s hard to see why microcopy is that important. It’s mostly instructional, right? Sure, but it’s also everywhere on your site or software. That’s why it’s essential to tailor it to your brand. Is it chatty, engaging? Does it fit your tone of voice? Does it distil the information into an easy to understand sentence or does it hinder user progress?

Bad microcopy has the propensity to irritate, fail to explain and at worst, confuse. I’ve seen examples where it’s flowery, long winded and even marketing and sales led.. That’s not what it’s for. There's an art to writing succinct, understandable text which makes sites and software easier to use.

What we do

Here at Natural Interaction, our process has changed in recent months. In the same way that a designer wireframes and prototypes visual designs, we now offer to develop tone and direction for microcopy in line with our user testing results. So far, this is working really well. Making evidence-based design decisions is a great way to improve satisfaction, efficiency and ultimately, business performance. Ensuring that the microcopy is fit for purpose, on brand and easy to understand? well, that’s just the icing on the cake.  

If you think your microcopy needs looking at, or want to discuss a wider UX design project, get in touch and let’s chat.

Alex Ryder

Head of Content

With 10 years marketing communications experience, Alex has worked both client and agency side for large international companies and small family run businesses alike. Here at Natural Interaction, she manages our marketing and PR. She enjoys to-do lists, project planning and copywriting and when she’s not working, she can always be found in the vicinity of food.

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