By: Miguel Santico|
10 Apr 2020
Throughout the years, websites and mobile applications have become more and more interactive. It has been a long time since digital products became a conversation between the user and the business, but that conversation is evolving more and more.
There are always opportunities to further the conversation with your users, and that is where UX writing comes in.
What is UX Writing?
User experience, or UX, is simply the experience that a user has when he uses your digital product whether it be a website or a mobile app. UX Writing, then, dictates this. From the direction of the experience, how pleasant and seamless it is and everything else that factors into your user’s experience, UX writing is responsible.
Unlike typical web copywriting which aims at telling a story and selling a product or a service, UX writing’s focus is on getting users where they need to be. Buttons, menu headers, 404s, pop-ups, instructions and page headers are just some examples of UX writing that help audiences navigate your product.
Why is effective UX writing important?
According to recent studies, 97% of customers say that user experience is the most critical element in the quality of an application and 90% say they would stop using an application if it is difficult to navigate.
Focused on creating only the best and most efficient experience for users and increasing conversion rates, it is not hard to understand the importance of user experience and UX Design is important. Read on and learn about some practices in crafting winning UX copy.
9 Rules of Effective UX Writing
1. Keep it simple, short and concise
One thing to remember when writing for UX is that every word counts. These interactions between the user and the digital product tend to be swift, so the most effective way to communicate a message is to get straight to the point.
Keeping it concise means saying what you have to say in the most efficient manner possible. Make sure that every word serves a purpose – get rid of those that don’t. Words that make messages longer but do not add any value to the overall objective only serve to confuse users.
Large blocks of text don’t work out so well, either. Users don’t usually read all UX text – they scan it for important points. Do your users and yourself a favour, take those important points and craft a short and relevant message with it.
Last but not least, keep it simple and understandable for your users. Avoid using technical terms and double negatives because it takes more time for your users to understand the message.
If there is a simpler, shorter and more concise way to say it, that is your best bet.
2. Start with the objective in mind
When writing sentences that instruct users on how to achieve a certain objective, always place the objective before the action. This makes it easier for users to identify the objective.
For example, instead of a button or link that says “Click here to learn more,” say “Learn More”.” Writing the objective immediately removes the tediousness of having to read more words than needed to find out what an action leads to. This helps users quickly determine whether they want to execute the action or not.
This may seem like a small detail, but in UX writing, it is a very important factor for swift and effective communication.
3. Use specific verbs
This point goes hand-in-hand with the previous one and puts focus on the importance of using specific verbs instead of generic ones in UX writing. They have more impact on users and get the message across clearly.
“Resolve,” for example, is much clearer than “Done” or “Okay.”
When you use generic verbs, there is a tendency for the audience to misinterpret what you are trying to say. This is the exact opposite of what you want when people use your product.
Be as clear and specific as possible to remove the possibility of misinterpretation. This not only helps them easily understand and interact with your product – it also allows you to dictate the direction of the conversation between you and your users.
4. Consistency is key
Inconsistencies in copy only cause confusion in users. Stick to your brand, tone, perspective (1st, 2nd or 3rd person) and the user’s platform (mobile or PC).
You can’t use the 1st and 2nd person perspective in one sentence, and you can’t say ‘Tap here’ if your user is on a computer. Committing these mistakes in UX writing does not only create confusion in the user’s experience – it makes you look unprofessional as well.
5. Write in the present tense and with an active voice
Writing in the present tense keeps copy relevant and removes any fleeting or anticipatory feelings. It reminds users that their experience with the product is happening in the present, so it keeps them more engaged.
An active voice engages the reader and breathes more life into the conversation. Unlike a passive voice that bores your users, it energizes the copy and increases lead generation.
These are crucial for your product to succeed in gaining more traffic and creating more conversions. It is a simple rule in UX writing, but it could be what separates you from your competitors.
6. Use numbers
Making use of numbers instead of typing the number out in words reduces reading time. The quicker and easier they understand, the better their experience with your product.
Just imagine the difference between seeing the number 98 and having to read ninety-eight. The former is a lot easier to digest. It also requires less space on your user’s screen.
7. Do not give all the details right away
Bombarding your users with details or large blocks of text overwhelms them. At times, information can be compressed, but there are situations where all information is vital and cannot be omitted.
When it comes to UX writing, it is better to display the ‘headline’ or the main point of the information first, then provide an option for users to view all the details. This is called progressive disclosure, which can be seen in examples like ‘Learn more’ hyperlinks in websites and card expanding in apps.
Following this rule ensures that your users don’t suffer from information overload and gives them more options in choosing what they view.
8. Make interactive elements easy to identify
The interactive elements in your product like buttons, dropdowns and more, should be easily identifiable by your users and lead to the appropriate outcomes.
This is a simple yet crucial rule that should always be followed. Using verbs when labelling call-to-actions and styling hyperlinks distinctly are examples of practices that make interactive elements easily distinguishable.
Practising this boosts the effectivity of your UX writing, ensuring that users know which elements of your product they can interact with, making their experience with your product more intuitive.
9. Avoid using dates
As much as possible, avoid using dates so that users don’t have to check their calendars. This efficiently lets your users know about days to take note of important days without them having to leave your website or app.
Other than ‘today’, ‘tomorrow’ and ‘yesterday’, you can also use terms like ‘in 2 weeks’ or ‘last month’ to give your users an idea. This requires much less effort of them compared to when you provide them with the date and they have to mentally calculate how long ago it was.
These rules do not make up a comprehensive list of how to write for UX. There are more rules and practices out there that will add to the quality of your UX writing, but these are certainly some of the fundamentals to follow.
Putting these into practice helps you direct your users and communicate with them effectively, making their experience with your product fluid and pleasant.
Learn more about Microsoft’s take on UX Writing here.
Make your users’ experience a memorable one with Verz
UX is one of the most important elements of a digital product’s quality, and creating it is not something that everybody can do. These rules are meant to guide you, but it still takes professionals to achieve excellent UX writing, which is also just one of the many website writing practices you should know.
With 10 years of experience in web development, we at Verz Design can help you create an experience for your users that they will love coming back to!
Reach out to us for a free consultation at 6841 1680 or [email protected]!