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Beginners guide to microcopy

It can be very easy to get lost in the design of our website and forget about the user’s experience

Well those very helpful pieces of information are what we like to call microcopy.

The word “microcopy” refers to those little pieces of content that provides the user with clear instruction and direction of where they are going. It helps manage the user expectations and decisions.

  Ebay microcopy

What to consider

When we are crafting content for the web we want our users to be guided through processes easily.

As a content manager, we have to anticipate the responses our users will get when put in a situation, we can help this with on the spot assistance. What we don’t want to do is confuse someone by not giving them some help or direction. A small piece of text could be the big difference between someone signing up or purchasing from us, to them feeling irritated and clicking away from our website. Remember the best experience we can give a user will mean they will come again and hopefully refer the site to family and friends.

Microcopy and User Interface and User Experience

Now let’s look at a few examples of what I mean by good microcopy.

We can use microcopy on buttons to help navigate users through our content and make sure they end up at the destination they are looking for. By clearly defining what this button does we are helping someone understand what will happen when clicked and answering any questions someone might have.

Using the image below taken from play.com we can easily navigate between viewing our checkout or to continue shopping with no hidden surprises.

Example of Play.com microcopy

The sign up form on Facebook has great microcopy too; it illustrates to the user that the service is free and provides information as to why Facebook wants your date of birth. This clears up any hesitation for the user not wanting to sign up.

Example of Facebook microcopy

Microcopy can also be used in other ways; the screen shot below shows a number of ways that I feel help the user get the best experience.

This screen shot has been taken from a company that offer businesses assistance in reducing the amount of money they pay in business rates.

Example of Rates Recovery microcopy

When visiting this website I am instantly given the option to “receive a free savings report” and with the added assistance of pre filling my contact details I have no issue of not understanding what personal information is needed to complete the form. The clear detail of the words “how do I find this out” helps answer any questions I have and ease my worry of not knowing what this field means or how I found out the information needed.

To finish my experience, the button clearly tells me it will take me to my results with no surprises of extra fields to fill in. It encourages me to take action. Brilliant!

Conclusion

To summarise we should always consider what it will be like from a user’s perspective, it can be very easy to get lost in the design of our website and forget about the user’s experience. Remember the following when designing your next website:

  • Text should be clear, visible and easy to read
  • Users never want surprises
  • Anticipate the users response
  • It should encourage people to take action

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