Joshua Porter was working for an eCommerce project that was losing money because of 5%-10% of the transactions getting failed. Joshua then built a system that was able to notify him immediately when an error occurred.
He found the reason behind transaction failure: Billing address errors. The address people were entering did not match the one registered with their credit card.
How did Joshua solve this loophole in the funnel?
He added up the copy “Be sure to enter the billing address associated with your credit card” at the top of the form.
“And just like that, the errors went away,” Joshua wrote.
But, what is “Microcopy”?
Microcopy is the term for the small sentences and phrases on an app or website interface that help guide a user through a process or help encourage them to take action.
These small bits of copy can have a huge impact on your brand: they can make or break your user experience.
Following is a non-exhaustive list of where microcopy is used:
- Error (404) pages
- Form instructions
- Loading screens
- Form fields
- Menu navigation
- Opt-in forms
- Much more…
Your users interact with your websites and software every day. Some of these interactions are good, while others are less so. Microcopy design helps make good interactions great and ‘less so’ ones good. Let’s have a look at how and why microcopy design is essential to make the customer experience much better.
Why Microcopy Design is Essential
From a business perspective, focussing on designing microcopy thoughtfully, thereby taking care of very small written details on your website or digital product can help your brand gain various benefits at a minimal cost.
1. Microcopy Boosts Engagement
Effective microcopy has an ability to understand and anticipate customer’s expectations, thereby motivating them to take action. A good microcopy speaks the customer’s language and is able to make the user feel as if they are having a conversation with the interface. Thereby engaging them and encouraging them to keep going ahead in the process, making the product easier to use.
Google, for instance, realized that their target users are more interested in casually browsing hotel room options and are not in the headspace to make a reservation yet. Thus, they changed their copy “Book a room”—which was not empathetic— to “Check availability”—an appropriate microcopy for the intent at the time—which increased the engagement rate by 17%.
Key Takeaway: Customers love to see what they feel, so speak their language.
2. Microcopy is Amazing at Explaining Errors
“Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.” ~Dr. Seuss
Although one of our goals while building a website is to minimize errors, however, errors are inevitable to occur and every now and then, your users will find themselves on a 404 page. Errors trigger irritation and stress in the users, thus, you must be prepared for such errors so that the potential user does not leave the site without understanding the reason behind it. Otherwise, they might feel like the site is broken and therefore not trustworthy.
Instead of letting them down, you can make use of a good microcopy that can act as a platform to connect with your customers and sell more. A good microcopy allows users to continue browsing the web in any other way.
Tripadvisor website is a good example, where they used their error page and gave it a comic point—“This page is on vacation… and you should be too”—to hook users and promote their lowest hotel price services.
Key Takeaway: Anticipate what your site visitors may be looking for, and include it on your 404 error page.
3. Microcopy Increases Confidence
Trust is one of the vital factors that define the success of your brand. Digital products can raise concern for security and privacy for users. If your target customers feel insecure while making a transaction, it can result in the abandonment of a purchase. This is the reason that 94% of respondents leave a website if they do not trust it.
Microcopy plays a crucial role in earning the user’s trust by intelligently binding together language and design, thereby having a positive impact on the UX.
LinkedIn, for instance, makes effective use of microcopy to provide transparency, thereby building trust amongst their users. They explicitly explain during the signup process for their premium service that why they are asking for credit card details and how to avoid getting charged.
Key Takeaway: Be clear and honest with your consumers when you need certain information from them.
4. Microcopy Impacts Conversions
Conversion is one of the main goals of a website or an app. Each and every detail—big or small—matters when increasing your site’s conversion rate. A microcopy plays a critical role in getting the user to perform a specific action, like subscribing to a newsletter, buying a product or becoming a follower of a social network.
Yoast.com used microcopy design in their marketing strategy to increase their conversions by 11.30%. The addition of a sentence—there will be no additional costs—next to the “Total”, replacing the “remove” text with a “x”, and adding a “Continue shopping” link helped to streamline the cart experience.
According to Thijs, Yoast’s behavioral scientist, the “no additional costs” text was added because hidden costs are the #1 reason why people abandon shopping carts.
Key Takeaway: Analyze where you are failing, read the consumer’s mind, and tweak intelligently to improve conversions.
5. Microcopy Helps Users Along
When users visit your website or an app for the first time, a number of reasons can stop them from proceeding further. Once they have downloaded your app, they can get confused with it and wonder:
- Where they are?
- What to do next?
- How does this work?
So, you should be prepared in advance to assist your potential users as they interact with your software or product. This is when microcopy design comes into play. A good microcopy creates paths for users that allow them to move quickly, seamlessly, and efficiently from A to B.
Twitter is a perfect example that effectively uses microcopy to help its users move ahead. Have a look at the following example which is full of contextual microcopy that helps first-time users to start using a service. A new user can tweet with preloaded tweets (with a hashtag to get them in touch with others like them) or write their own messages.
Key Takeaway: Put your feet in the shoes of customers and guide them to move quickly, seamlessly, and efficiently from A to B.
Microcopy design is an overlooked valuable asset that perfectly balances the product’s business needs with what’s best for the user to deliver customers with an intuitive and delightful experience.
The advantages of effective UX microcopy are substantial: increased user engagement, brand loyalty, trust, and frictionless product experiences. When added in an organization’s marketing strategy, it can help a product stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.