UX writing involves creating a series of clear commands or directions to help the user seamlessly interact with the software or product. As simple as it may sound, UX writing is actually far from drafting a set of functional instructions. In our consumer-fueled world, many consider UX writing to revolve around things like “Add to Cart” or “Continue Shopping”. But, even those writing for B2C e-commerce portals understand the pressing need to entice and captivate their users and thereby remain relevant.
Cut to the B2B context, where the writing needs to be far from enticing and captivating and more on the lines of being efficient and fulfill user requirements at one go. Writing for enterprise applications is a whole different ball game. This is because these applications are the very foundations of large businesses – their employees rely on these apps to perform everyday tasks and make split-second decisions. Thus, it is the UX copy which can make or break their experience.
The significance of UX copy can be described as such – being your brand’s tone and voice, it is the first line of communication with your user; icons, color schemes and images follow. The UX copy is what lends personality to your application; this is a crucial tool which aids users in navigating your system.
A worthwhile part of the design process, it goes without saying that an effective UX copy is the result of skillful collaboration and constant iteration. UX writing is part of the big picture and should, therefore, be a part of the UX strategy.
Bringing writers in at the end of the creative process is like trying to put toothpaste into a tube.
– John Steinbeck
A good UX copy holds the key to communicating any new or additional technology to your users. It is used to assist the user to navigate the product and familiarize himself with its functionality to a point where he experiences absolute comfort while using it. Here are 5 tips to help you write a spectacular and user-friendly UX copy.
1. Clarity & Utility Are Above All Else
The foremost thing to keep in mind while beginning to draft a UX copy is to keep it absolutely clear and truly useful. However, doing so in the actual is easier said than done. Something that’s clearly written isn’t necessarily useful, whereas a command that is useful could potentially be depicted in a complicated manner. As a UX writer, sometimes you have to take that judgment call to be more descriptive while explaining a process or its consequences, however, utility and clarity are always non-negotiable. Be very critical when it comes to reviewing and editing your work, and rely heavily on user feedback to come up with your best copy. But, more on that later.
2. Make It Conversational
Enterprise users have a foremost demand from their application, which is to be helpful and useful at all times. It is imperative that you as the UX writer along with the designers truly understand users and give them exactly what they want from a functional standpoint. Remember, the copy is the only way for the users to interact with the application, so it should not be complex or intimidating in any way. Tremendous effort goes into writing the perfect copy for enterprise applications because a lot of business flows and decisions depend on it. A noteworthy example of good enterprise UX writing is Mailchimp. This product has truly revolutionized the process of creating email campaigns, and a huge share of its success can be attributed to its brilliant style of conversational copy.
3. Never Make the User Guess
The last feeling that someone wants to experience as an app user is suspense. The guessing game ruins the user experience like nothing else can (unless it’s a game that you’re designing), and can interfere with decision making. Seemingly innocuous title words like “Back”, “Next”, “OK” and “Cancel” may throw up different connotations in the user’s mind, depending upon the context. While simplicity is a well-appreciated attribute of UX writing, always ensure that the meaning of your text has no scope for multiple interpretations, even in cases of buttons, navigation, form labels, and links. It is always advisable to provide titles that relate optimally to the task at hand.
4. Test with Real Users
As an integral part of the design process, even the writing does well to undergo user testing. While brainstorming sessions with your design team are also helpful, quick iterations based on user test results help in drafting a copy that is flawless and high on utility. You can opt to test the version you’re working on and gain feedback on it or compare it with the existing app if applicable in the form of A/B tests. In case you’re testing a new product, you may want to create different versions which differ in voice and tone and test to note which works best.
5. Remember to Consider System Failures
We tend to design keeping the best-case scenario in mind. However, there are too many possibilities and permutations in an enterprise application. The fact remains that the user will encounter roadblocks at some point, and these can seriously affect his performance on the job. Writing the copy for system failures should be handled with utmost tact and finesse. The user is at a crucial juncture when he encounters a system fault and needs handholding from the app which appears in the form of the copy.
To sum it up, writing copy for enterprise UX apps means that you have to prioritize clarity and usability since your users are usually hard-pressed for time and have to take quick decisions. If you manage to keep this copy breezy and conversational, your users will love using it. Never indulge the users in a guessing game, you can leave that skill to game designers. You’ll have a winning copy on your hand if you keep testing your iterations with real users, and don’t forget to sensitively handle system failures.