Microcopy refers to small written elements found across a digital product, such as button labels, form field instructions, error warnings, and tooltips. It is an essential aspect of the user experience since it shows the users how to interact with the product and guides them through the process.
A well-written microcopy improves the user experience of a product. It increases usability and makes it easier for the user to navigate a product and complete tasks. It reduces confusion – the user doesn't have to rely on visual cues but can also understand them thanks to the small text bits. Microcopy can also be a text where your brand's voice and personality shine, making your product easy to remember and to distinguish from the competitors. Combining your brand's voice with persuasion in microcopy in key product areas (e.g. CTA buttons) can help increase conversion rates and lead to better business results.
A successful piece of microcopy follows three rules: using simple and clear language, empathising with the user, and keeping it consistent. Using concise language means avoiding jargon or complex phrases – anything too long won't fit, and anything too complicated will make the user stop in their tracks instead of accomplish the desired task. That's why you should empathise with the user – think about what they need to know and provide clear instructions to guide them through each step of the process. And be consistent – consistent language makes it easier for the user to understand the product and avoid making mistakes.
There are also several things you should avoid. For example, don't use puns, jokes or wordplay in microcopy. You want the user to accomplish a task, and any jokes may not only not land with the user but confuse them and make them abandon what they're doing. You should also avoid being too formal; try using a friendly tone to make the brand more approachable. And finally: don't use vague or ambiguous language, be specific, so your users don't misinterpret your words.
A well-written microcopy isn't just words; it's a compelling expression of your brand that guides the user to the things you want them to do.