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How to Write Compelling Microcopy

How to Write Compelling Microcopy

Notice those small bits of text on websites? It’s called microcopy. But don't be fooled by the size — while it might appear like trivial wording, microcopy greatly impacts user experience (UX).

What is Microcopy?

Microcopy is a discipline under the broad umbrella of UX writing. It refers to the short snippets of text strategically placed throughout apps, websites, and other digital products. Clever error messages, witty form field texts, and irresistible call-to-action (CTA) labels you see daily in user interfaces are all prime examples.

Examples of microcopy

The goal of microcopy is to improve the user experience within digital products. Since most users skim through 20% of text on websites and apps, this small, purposeful copy is crucial in influencing how they interact with and perceive a digital interface. Because of this, microcopy is considered a fundamental component to product design and content strategy. 

UX writers, in collaboration with design and product professionals, are typically in charge of writing microcopy for digital products. These individuals specialize in crafting intentional, user-centric written content across the interface, supporting user experience.

Why Does Microcopy Matter?

Why is microcopy important?

Microcopy offers guidance

Without microcopy, users can easily get lost in the maze. It provides helpful context and communicates relevant information, enabling users to better navigate an app or website. Microcopy can also be used to make certain features and functionalities much clearer—and highlight the best ways to interact with them.

Microcopy sets expectations

Microcopy helps visitors know exactly what to expect on their user journeys, like the next steps they need to take, the length of wait time for a particular action, and so on. It also works to give users a quick heads-up to minimize frustration along the way and foster a better experience. Yet microcopy goes beyond managing expectations; it also works to help users overcome issues when they arise.

Microcopy drives action

Microcopy also plays a key role in influencing user behavior. These short writings are powerful tools for prompting action, whether that’s signing up, placing an order, or downloading a file. Truly, microcopy is crucial for driving conversions on an app or website, beyond what visuals or design can ever accomplish.

Qualities of Great Microcopy

Qualities of well-written microcopy

Keep it succinct

When writing microcopy, aim to convey your message using as few words as possible. But don’t sacrifice clarity for brevity; make sure your intended meaning shines through. Take pointers from Twitter, who knows how to use brief yet clear microcopy to communicate a function. In just two words, its microcopy What’s Happening captures the essence of the microblogging site in the most succinct way.

Twitter text: what's happening?

Keep it relevant

Good microcopy needs to have a purpose, and that purpose should be to offer context to users. Your microcopy must be helpful—and not confusing—to anyone who reads it. So make sure your writing remains relevant to the action or situation. Borrow tips from Netflix, who knows how to craft microcopy relevant to users wherever they are in their journey. Its microcopy Continue watching for [Name] promotes continuity within the platform, intuitively encouraging users to pick up where they left off. Plus, Netflix establishes a sense of personalization with the mention of the user’s name.

Netflix example of relevance

Keep it actionable

Great microcopy should be a no-brainer. Upon reading it, users should have a clear understanding of the action they need to take. Note-taking app Evernote shows you how it’s done. Its website microcopy "Tame your work, organize your life" communicates action from the get-go, immediately letting users know what they can do using this productivity app.

Evernote example of actionable microcopy

Keep it personable

Microcopy becomes a compelling snippet of text when it establishes a sense of connection with users. Your microcopy should make users feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and that their presence is valued. Puma is a pro at this. They ensure their microcopy remains on-brand and tugs at the heartstrings. Its email microcopy It’s not the same without you taps into users’ emotions, making them feel their presence is important to Puma. Plus, it uses you to make it more personal.

Puma keeps it personal

Keep it distinct

Good microcopy must effectively reflect your unique brand personality. Whether that’s professional or a tad bit playful, your microcopy should be aligned with your overall brand voice. Not only that, it must be consistent throughout the user journey, establishing a clear, cohesive brand experience for users. Check out MailChimp who knows how to communicate friendliness and simplicity in its website microcopy. The microcopy High fives!, which pops up after users send an email, highlights the brand’s sense of warmth and comfort as an email marketing expert with style.

MailChimp high fives

Microcopy is undeniably important. So be sure to keep these tips in mind to ensure that those small snippets of text on your site work their magic.