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Microcopy, how does it influence the user experience?

A woman's hands typing on the keyboard of a laptop computer

Microcopy, how does it influence the user experience?

Sometimes we can feel lost using a website, or maybe we have installed an application and we do not really know how to achieve our goal in it, believe it or not, one of the main causes of this is the lack of a good microcopy capable of guiding us during navigation.

Many times we pay special attention to how an interface looks and we leave aside the importance of the words, as they are the ones that convey the desired message. This is where microcopy comes into play to ensure a pleasant experience by facilitating effective communication.

First let’s remember that microcopy is all those short texts that accompany the user to execute actions and give the necessary feedback:

  • Buttons
  • Confirmation messages
  • Error messages
  • Empty states
  • Placeholders 
  • Loading times

It also includes those small phrases that serve as a guide in the processes that usually have to be carried out:

  • Login
  • Registration
  • Recover password
  • Subscribe to a blog
  • Send a message

Let’s see some aspects in which microcopy influences the experience that can be perceived when using any interface, and why any interface? Well, because each one with which we have contact represents a mediator that facilitates communication.

1. Ease of decision making

To facilitate decision making it is necessary to identify the moments in the navigation that require decisive decisions and dedicate special attention to them, so we can build the necessary accompanying phrases to convey a sense of security and encourage the execution of the desired actions.

These accompanying phrases can usually be found in tooltips, empowering titles, clarifying messages, or even buttons. A good practice is the use of phrases that indicate the value that will be obtained by executing an action, let’s see an example of this.

“Complete registration” may sound like a complicated and lengthy process, however “Start now” motivates and indicates the benefit to be achieved; start quickly.

2. Permanency

When we engage in a good conversation we create a pleasant connection with who we interact with, the same happens when interacting with an interface capable of “understanding us”, we establish a link that allows a pleasant interaction.

To achieve the creation of this link we need to understand the users and spend a prudent time to study them and identify their main behaviors, this will provide the necessary input to create the content that manages to “hook” them to the interface according to their needs.

For example, if we identify that users have a feeling of insecurity regarding online payment processes, possibly the encounter with the entry of their data is reason enough for them to immediately leave the interface, here is then the opportunity to implement a microcopy that reduces the fear so that they manage to stay and complete the process successfully. Let’s see:

On the left we tried to simplify the design as much as possible, however, decreasing the words used could cause uncertainty and doubt about the credibility of the system. On the right, we implemented microcopy in different ways:

  • A message was used to ensure the security of data handling
  • With the use of placeholders we create a visual guide on what should be entered in each of the spaces
  • We modified the action of the button to indicate the benefit obtained and implemented a more specific title
  • We have added an instructive tooltip about CVV

With these small adjustments, the user will undoubtedly have a more reliable experience with this process.

3. Error management

We know that interfaces must be sufficiently intuitive for the user to navigate without interruptions, however, every system is prone to fail, it is inevitable that some kind of error occurs that represents a significant pain point, therefore we must try to reduce the frustration that can cause so that it does not negatively affect the user experience. How to achieve this? by means of a microcopy that allows you to address the error in the best way.

For an error message to be appropriate, we must consider three fundamental aspects:

  1. The use of simple language according to the context of the users, and avoiding the use of technical terms that may cause confusion.
  2. Indicate what is happening so that you can take control of the situation
  3. Indicate how it can be solved so that the user can continue their journey through the interface and reduce the probability of abandonment.

Let’s see a couple of examples:

The use of the message “Invalid data”, could confuse about the origin of the problem and give up on the attempt, on the contrary the message “Your card number is missing some digits, try again” indicates how to deal with the situation, check the card again and verify what are the missing digits.

Another common mistake is to perform a search and get the result “There are no matches”, but really there are not, many times the system cannot know exactly what you are looking for, but it can have approximations, the use of suggestions will give us the option to correct the error that was made, or if it is the case, select one of the suggestions given by the system.

4. Connect with the product or brand

The fact that we have a pleasant experience in our first contact with an interface increases the chances that we will use it again by 82%. With the use of the right words, microcopy can positively strengthen the bond that can be generated with this first and fundamental impression.

A good exercise is to construct questions or phrases that our audience can identify with, questions so personalized that they cannot just answer. These questions can be implemented in influential moments, a clear example are the login and registration processes, although it can be an uncomfortable process for many, we can work them in such a way that it becomes a friendly welcome to the product.

Let’s see an example:

On the right we have the common login screen that only asks for data entry (and we know this because we identify the inputs).

On the left, we changed the cold title to a greeting, this makes the interface feel friendlier and the small instruction makes it more communicative, we also implemented a question that captures the attention of those who do not yet have an account “Don’t you have an account?

So, now that we see the great contribution that microcopy gives us despite its subtlety, let’s see every word we write as a unique opportunity to communicate with whoever is in front of the screen, let’s create natural interactions. Through words we can be transparent with the user and keep him aware of what is happening in the interface. Let’s not sacrifice words, let’s communicate what is necessary to create a pleasant experience.

Want to learn more about other strategies we use to increase our customers’ value? We specialize in crafting unique strategies to make your business stand out. Contact us.