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November 4, 2021

A Quick Guide to UX Copywriting

What is UX?

UX stands for user experience. It’s all about the experience your users have when exploring your website or interacting with your product.It's interested in exploring the journeys your users take to solve a problem.Your mission with UX is to create online interfaces that meet the needs of your users that are a joy to use and cut out the fuss of your competitors.

Let's think about that for a second. If it's not Friday, imagine it is. It's time to order pizza for lunch. You hop onto your favourite brand's website. If it pops up with the deal of the day right away, they're already a step ahead. The easier it is to order, the quicker the order is placed, and the quicker the pizza comes. In the end, you're happy.

That's user experience.

UX is a lot like a pizza. You can add as many toppings as you like to boost its flavours, but its dough holds it all together. If your user experience is your toppings, your users are the dough. You can split it into four slices to focus on:

  • Their wants
  • Their needs
  • Their behaviours
  • Their pain points

 

And what is UX Copy?

Remember that pizza pop-up? It’s not just the pop-up with the deal of the day and the ‘order now’ button that counts as UX. It’s all the words that draw you in too.

Whereas copywriting is all about selling something, UX copy is about who you’re selling something to.

Papa John’s consistently change up their copy to get you clicking. The optimal word is you. Their UX writing is simple and to the point. It’s immediate and made to feel personal.

 

In their latest ad, they’re inspiring their audience to order a pizza – and yes, there’s a difference. By using the phrase ‘share the flavours that make your soul sing,’ they’re empowering their audience, and they’re inspiring them to order, rather than telling them what to do.

Elsewhere, they expand on this idea:

“Now is time to serenade your stomach and grab a slice of the new Fresh Soul Range. Filled with rich meat flavours that’ll make your soul sing, it’s here for the good times and good vibes.”

As you can see, UX copywriting is all about your audience.It’s where audience research and targeting comes into play. You’re thinking about the words that sell your product to the right people – without them feeling like you’re preaching on a soapbox.

But why bother with it?

Imagine if you were being read a bedtime story by a robot. It sounds monotone. It lacks character. And it completely misses the human touch that comes with unique voices. That’s why you should bother with UX copy on your websites.

When you’re writing for UX, you’re sharing conversations with the user. You’re simplifying the language to simplify the process. You’re making it easier for your users to achieve their goals.

And when they do that, they leave happy, and happy users become lifelong customers.

Let’s not forget your voice. Nobody likes a robot. They want something authentic and honest. We might live in the digital age but we all still long for that human touch in our online experiences. So UX writing plays a major part in building your brand voice.

Besides, do you really want to be as badly received as these old-school Windows error messages? We didn’t think so.

So what do we need to know?

Just like anything on the web, UX copywriting is always evolving. You’ll always be chopping and changing to keep up with trends and ahead of competitors. So there’s no rulebook to copy from per se.

But wait!

There’s no need to sweat it out just yet. Whilst we’ve not got a crystal ball, we do have experts on board. Our copywriters, digital marketers and UX designers always keep their ears to the ground on where it's heading.

So without further ado, here's a handful of principles for UX copywriting you need to know.

Be useful and lend a helping hand

Disclaimer: a lot of what we’re about to say isn’t rocket science. But so many businesses don’t bother to take the time to tend to it.And over time, customers will put your brand back up on the shelf for something else.

So, rule one: lend your users a helping hand and be useful.That’s it. That’s the copy.

UX copywriting should be about your users and what they need when they’re interacting with that specific element. For example, what does a couple ordering a pizza on a Friday night need from Papa Johns? Just think about it for a second.

They want to order a pizza. And they want to do it with ease. So make it easy for them. Keep it short and sweet. Stick to the point. Guide them to where they’re going without sending them on a goose chase.

Think of all the things your users might interact with on your website. Now think of all the things they might need help with. Connect the dots -it’s not as hard as it seems. If you’ve got a search bar, why not add some suggestions of things to search. Sounds simple enough and it goes a long way, trust us.

 

Don’t forget to use your brand’s voice

Our voices are our weapons. We wield them in our everyday interactions. Of course, the tone you take will shift gears depending on who you're talking to. That'll depend on several factors like the context, setting, and emotions at play.

Just like in real life, the way you speak to your customers online - from your banners to your buttons - will depend on factors you can't control.

That's why every element that helps guide your users through your website is uniform. It must be your unique brand voice - because once you've established your tone of voice, you'll want to keep it consistent to manage expectations.

If you need help putting this in place, start by unpacking your brand voice. If you haven't got one yet, think about what you want it to be. Map out the tones you think those voices might take - for example, if you want your voice to be passionate, your tones could be:

  • Confident
  • Enthusiastic
  • Playful

Next, you'll want to take those tones and tie them up with emotional states. In moments you want your customers to feel satisfied, for example, after a purchase, write enthusiastically or confidently.

Create guidelines! Think about those different stages and the different emotional states. When they're satisfied, mark that enthusiasm with a single exclamation mark. If it's more of a neutral tone, think about making all of the interactions warm and relatable - nobody likes robots, remember.

And finally, be you. Don't be afraid to put your brand's personality on display - just make sure it's fitting for your users.

 

Don’t ditch your designers – collaborate and visualise

Rule one of UX copywriting club is you don’t talk about UX copywriting club.

Just kidding. Rule one of the UX copywriting club is a lot simpler than that: don’t ditch your designer.

We buy with our eyes. We do everything else with them too.That means you’ll want to make sure your UX copy is integrated seamlessly with your UX design.

The idea of it all is you’re showing, not telling. Whatever action you’re doing, whether you’re explaining additional information or guiding a user to checkout, think about the visual impact of that.

It’s a golden oldie, but we love it: the early bird catches the worm. Get your copywriters and your designers knocking their heads together early on. The earlier in the process the better. Why? Because they’ll be on the same page. And that’s what you want your customers to be on.

By assembling your UX avengers, you’ll get one-up on responsive design. You want to use language that’s best for the platform you’re designing for. If you’re opting for a responsive interface, you’ll want to make your language universal for all platforms. You can’t click on an iPhone, so you’ve got to tap.

When copy and design are joining up the dots together, the end product isn’t confused. So your users won’t be either. And that’s what we want – nobody likes being confused, do they?

And what should we avoid?

Good question. And it’s not the easiest to answer. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the digital world is constantly evolving. So no there’s no right or wrong answer. There’s just chopping and changing and trial and error.

Don’t get too hot under the collar just yet. We wouldn’t just fly you out to the middle of the ocean and throw you out of the plane…

…we’ll at least give you a parachute to pull.

So, before you start gliding through the digital space, here’s some common mistakes you should avoid when it comes to UX copywriting.

 

Don’t overwhelm or pressure your customers

We don’t like telling you to suck eggs, but this one’s obvious, right?

The last time we visited the Hollister online store, we were bombarded with pop-ups. We’re human so we like bargains, but we were presented with every offer under the sun before we had even seen something – let alone anything we wanted to buy.

10% off this, and 2 for 1 on that - if the pop-up wasn’t overwhelming enough, the copy itself is just pressuring people into purchases they don’t want to make. Not yet, anyway. If you’re going to do that, keep it simple – or hey, just welcome them in.

Think about a visit to a Hollister in real life. You don’t get bombarded by employees and all of their offers. You might get a greeting, and you’ll likely get a ‘is there anything I can help you with?’ but otherwise, they’ll let you do you.

So why should it be different online, right?

And whilst we’re at it – don’t overdo it on the words. Like the pop-ups, too much copy can be confusing. When you’re confused, you can often get overwhelmed. And then your attention goes. And in the blink of an eye, you’ve lost a conversion.

Keep it simple, keep their attention, and keep their custom.

 

Don’t stuff the turkey with keywords

Keywords. They’re the keys to the SEO kingdom. So don’t go cutting them out completely. Just don’t go stuffing your UX copy full of them.It’s like stuffing a turkey, you want just the right amount of seasoning otherwise it’ll all go to pot.

You already know that keyword stuffing is a bad idea for climbing search rankings. And it’s a bad idea for user experience, too.

When writing for UX, your aim is to help guide your users. You’re making it easier for them to achieve the things they need to when they want to.

If you pile in all the keywords you can find, the meaning of your message gets lost. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Your users won’t become customers, they’ll click off and go somewhere else. They want it easy and they want it now.

This one is a bit of a balancing act. And it’s not a one-and-done fix either. You’ll have to keep an eye on your UX copywriting and your SEO strategy and adjust the two when necessary.

 

Don’t forget to spell-check everything

This one’s a big one - typos are the bear traps of the digital age. And companies are always falling for them. Time after time after time.

Typos are turn-offs. So don’t forget to check, check again, and you guessed it, triple-check your UX copy. It could save you a customer or two.

When your spelling is off or your grammar isn’t quite right, it oozes unprofessionalism. When you’re trying to build a brand, that’s not the reputation you want to get. If there’s more than one mistake, there can often be a sense of mistrust rising, and then it’s all downhill from there.

It doesn’t take long to spell-check, and it’ll make all the difference. It’ll show your customers you care. It’ll even help you tick off the box for UX copy: helping your customers. Because typos and grammatical errors can get confusing, and when someone’s confused, they get frustrated, and so on.

This is another reason why it’s always best to keep it simple, short and sweet. There’s less room for error and more space for ease.

And that’s a wrap

UX copywriting isn’t a one-way street. It’s got twists and turns and there’s constantly road works. If you stick to our tips and tricks listed in this guide, you’re good to go.

If you’re looking to take your website’s UX to the next level, get in touch with our team today and discover how we can help you get off the ground!

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