Whether it’s ordering a last-minute birthday gift on Amazon or dinner on JustEat, carrying out tasks online or through an app is part of our lives. And, each task should be seamless, as long as you’re guided by good microcopy.
Micro-what, you may be saying to yourself?
Yes, microcopy may be another catchy phrase that’s been created by a marketer somewhere, but it plays a vital role in the experience people have with your brand online.
Let’s uncover why.
“Small pieces of written text that appear on websites and apps.”
Microcopy covers everything from the words that appear on clickable buttons, e.g. Buy, to the text that shows you where to input your email address on an online form.
This is an example of microcopy that’s used on my contact form on my website.
Why good microcopy is important
Even though microcopy is a few words, it has a big impact as the text used shapes the experience the user has of the product. For instance, when the text is straightforward and concise, it’s more likely the user understands what they need to do and what will happen after completing this action.
This transparency helps users trust the brand, which is essential for building long-term relationships.
Who writes microcopy?
OK, all sounds clear, but who writes it?
Well, in an ideal world it would be a User Experience (UX) writer, sometimes called a Content Designer, UX Copywriter. Someone who understands users needs, the business needs, and marries the two to write text in the company’s tone of voice that guides users to complete tasks easily.
Hiring a UX writer isn’t an option for every company, so the task of writing microcopy may be passed to a copywriter, someone in the marketing department, or for SMEs – the business owner.
If you’re looking for guidance on writing microcopy, I suggest looking at the free resources on UX Writing Hub.
Good microcopy examples
Reading about good microcopy is all good, but it’s better to explain it with examples. So, here are a couple of examples of my favourite bits of microcopy:
Example 1: Welcome screen from Pizza Express app
Headline: ‘Where pizza lovers unite’ gives a sense of belonging, and as a lover of pizza you’re in the right place.
Body copy: ‘authentic Italian food’ Pizza Express is a UK chain of restaurants, but they don’t want you to think that. Instead, they’re trying to create an image of a pizza made with the best ingredients, just like they do in Italy.
Example 2: Littlebird website
Headline: ‘Spend less, while spending more time together with the Family Pass’ is speaking directly to their users, who are parents or carers of children up to 16. In just 11 words, they sell the two benefits you get by subscribing to the Family Pass – saving money and spending time together as a family.
Call to action: ‘Just £1 for a 30 day trial’ you know exactly what is going to happen next when you click this button – you’ll be signed up to a 30 day trial and, yes, charged £1.
5 tips for writing good microcopy
OK, so I’ve explained what microcopy is, why it’s important, and shown you a couple of examples of microcopy that I think talks to the user and is helpful. So what’s next? Well, it’s over to you to start writing your own pieces of microcopy, but before that, here are five tips to help you get started:
1. Lay down your brand’s tone of voice (TOV)
A tone of voice is a written description of your brand’s personality. When creating a tone of voice, it’s helpful to imagine your brand as a person. Consider what their character would be? Funny v serious, for instance. How would they speak? What relationship will they have with your customers?
For more advice, check out my article ‘Finding the right tone of voice for your business.’
2. Keep the text simple
While microcopy is meant to be short, it’s the meaning of the message that’s more important. So, if you have to add a couple of more words to the text to make the message clear, that’s OK. Also, remember that people scan read text on tech devices, so what you write needs to be simple and clear.
A colleague gave me this great piece of advice; If you’re writing about a cat, call it a cat, not a feline.
Discover more tips for writing clear messages in my article, ‘How to write short and snappy content.’
3. Write in a conversational tone
Yes, you’re writing text that will be displayed on a website or an app, but the reader is a person. So, aim for the text to be informal, open, and inviting. A top tip is to imagine you’re speaking to a friend.
For other tips, check out my article, ‘How to master conversational writing.’
4. Explain what happens next
As mentioned earlier, microcopy is meant to describe and guide your website visitors or app users. So, one of the most important elements is the text you use for your call to action (CTA). Typically this is a bit of text at the end of the microcopy or a clickable button that prompts someone to take another step.
A call to action should be short (3 or four words) and describe what will happen next. For example, if you want a shopper to sign up to receive your newsletter, a clear call to action is ‘Sign up to newsletter’.
Read my article ‘Understanding what a call to action is, and how to use it’ for my CTA tips.
5. Test your microcopy
Testing your microcopy is the only way you know if it’s meeting your user’s needs and fulfilling your business goals. Ideally, you’d test on actual visitors to your website or app users, but if this isn’t possible, ask your colleagues if they understand the meaning of your microcopy.
Over to you
Has this article inspired you to relook at the microcopy on your website or app? Or do you feel it’s better to get a professional to rewrite it for you? Get in touch to chat about your needs.