5 Reasons Why You Should Give a Darn About Microcopy

Laura Amarillas
September 7, 2020

If this current pandemic (or the plague, as I like to refer to it fondly) has taught us anything, it’s that more than ever, we are looking for human connection. We are being forced deeper into the virtual world, and any similarity to humanity that we can find there is comforting. This is where UX writing, or microcopy, can make a big difference for users. Microcopy will help to shape a user’s overall experience on a website. If your brand or business has a site, then you should take a second look at the quality of your microcopy.

Executives are finally realizing that brands need a carefully crafted user experience to thrive. This awakening has led to a new era for microcopy — an age when just the right words can really differentiate a product.

-Melissa Mapes (10 Examples of Microcopy Excellence)

Not sure if your site has got it right? No worries! We’ll give you examples of what good microcopy looks like, and reasons why frankly, my dear, you should give a damn.

Microcopy is in the Details

What exactly is microcopy? Well, just like its name suggests, it’s something “small,” but that can have a significant impact. They’re those small pieces of text that help to guide a user through a website, directing their next steps. They can present themselves as error messages, email subject lines, pop-ups, or those ever-important call-to-actions.

The information given by microcopy should be clear, to the point, and conversational. However, the key factor for it to be successful? It has to achieve a human connection.  Bad microcopy will have the opposite effect on users, sometimes even helping to push them away. Just take a look at this cringe-worthy example:

Image source: https://slickplan.com/blog/microcopy-can-affect-your-ux-heres-how

If anything, getting that unsubscribed message has sealed the deal on me not wanting to keep receiving their emails. Sorry Turbo Tax, but it’s definitely not me; it’s you.

To make your life just a bit less complicated for you, UX writer Ryan Cordell listed 6 questions in his article A 6-point microcopy checklist for product teams without UX writers to help check for effective microcopy:

  • How useful is it?
  • Is it succinct?
  • Is it transparent?
  • Does it sound human?
  • Is the copy in the design?
  • But is it actually useful?

Make sure to keep those questions in mind when taking a second look at your website. Decide what’s working, what’s not, and what can be improved. Or, if you’re looking into getting a new website created, why not get started on the right foot?

Reasons Why You Should Care About Microcopy

As promised, we have now reached that point where we can finally talk about why you should care about microcopy (or UX writing). We’ll even give you some nifty examples to go with that (do kids these days still even know what nifty means?). Let’s get right into it.

1.  It helps to give your brand a human voice

If you’re ever going to worry about having good microcopy, this is it. Users are looking for a human connection. A robotic, “soulless” brand becomes, well, forgettable. Take a look at this message Slack users see when editing their profile:

Image source: https://medium.com/swlh/best-microcopy-examples-and-some-great-insights-e4c6c0412ff8

We can all relate to wanting to use emojis, right? Well, at least those of us with a whimsical soul (insert emoji with tongue sticking out here). This seemingly unimportant message has just made me smile and created a moment of connection.

2.  It can be a way to get user feedback

It can be tricky trying to figure out precisely what is on users’ minds. As they say, each mind is a world of their own. You can create microcopy that will help better understand your users and help to create a better experience for them in the future. Here’s an example for a survey from Facebook:

Facebook page asking for user feedback
Image source: https://medium.com/swlh/best-microcopy-examples-and-some-great-insights-e4c6c0412ff8

Microcopy like this can give you insight into your users’ thoughts and, at the same time, make them feel cared for and listened to. And honestly, who doesn’t appreciate that? Unless perhaps you’re a swamp monster (I’m looking at you, Shrek).

3. It can improve a user’s perspective when something goes wrong

As a user, having something go wrong while on a website can be frustrating. But clever microcopy can help change a users’mood, making it more likely for them to stick around. See this cheeky monkey from MailChimp that lets you know that something’s gone wrong, but you end up feeling kinda good about it anyway:

Image source: https://realbigwords.com/best-ux-writing

I don’t know about you, but getting an error message like this would make me feel considerably less grumpy than if I just got a plain 404 error page. Plus, now you have a warning that you might actually have a long lost evil twin.

4. It can make for more effective calls-to-action

As much as you care about your users having a pleasurable experience on your site, what is equally important is for them to take the desired action. Otherwise, a user becomes a “window shopper.” Take a look at this CTA from InVision:

Image source: https://realbigwords.com/best-ux-writing

Effective CTA buttons on your site can have a significant impact on your users’ next steps. I know this microcopy is pretty goofy, but that’s what makes it the more likable and persuasive.

5. It creates an overall better experience for the user

Good microcopy will help to shape your users’ experience on your site in a positive way. For example, certain processes can take some time and can end up frustrating the user. But what if you can make it into a fun or cute experience? Take a look at this “beary” good example from TunnelBear:

Image source: https://medium.com/swlh/best-microcopy-examples-and-some-great-insights-e4c6c0412ff8

Absolutely no one enjoys time spent on loading pages. No one. But a fuzzy little bear being “unpacked” on your loading page sure does improve the waiting time.

Do It. Just Do It

If you can improve your users’ experience on your site, why not do it? Do it! Just... do it! (Yes, this is our Shia LaBeouf impersonation) Having good microcopy will help to create brand loyalty by guiding your users through their navigation process, making them feel cared for, and will give them that all so important human connection.

Let’s talk.

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