Going Beyond Lorem Ipsum: 5 Tips for Designers to Ace UX Writing

UX writing

No matter how slick your interface design is, how delightful it is to look at, or how intuitively it functions, it can quickly fall flat without simple and helpful microcopy. UX writing is that fine line of distinction between an effective and a frustrating experience. Quality UX writing is what forms the foundation of an engaging user experience.

Up until a few years ago, a UX designer who could ace writing was considered a unicorn – fabulous, yet fabled. In fact, the use of Lorem Ipsum as a default placeholder for content is done, presumably, to reduce the “distraction” testers’ experience while using the interface. However, the truth remains that testing interfaces sans content can only yield half-baked feedback. The concept of placeholder text is counterproductive while getting design feedback because, well

UI design UX writing tips

…Your design is incomplete without the right content to support it.

According to NN, concise text, objective language, and scannable copy improve usability by 124%.

Find us a designer who can write

Microcopy is the information/instructional content in an app or a website that can be seen on sign-ins, forms, pop-ups, buttons, tips, etc. The microcopy is what informs and helps users as they go about using the system.

The UX team at Adobe explains it as, “…from the words that comprise a call to action, to the disclaimers that assure users that their email address won’t be shared or stored.” Just validates how microcopy is the key to building trust with users. Clever and helpful UX writing isn’t a trend as it used to be, but an independent and vital discipline that is a core part of the design process – part designers cannot afford to ignore. While it continues to emerge as an independent skill, it won’t hurt if designers learn UX writing fundamentals to empower their visuals with the right text.

Effective UX writing:

  • Is simple, succinct, and easy to follow
  • Represents the voice and persona of the brand
  • Is a perfect visual fit within the design
  • Fulfills needs and answers questions

5 tips for designers to ace UX writing

Now, writing is a skill that takes time to hone, but writing true-to-intent text for your system isn’t rocket science. The next time you’re about to reach for Lorem Ipsum, go through these tips and try to complement your designs with a meaningful copy.

Give it a personal touch

There’s a reason why products like Mailchimp and Slack made the kind of impact they did. They established a heartfelt connection with their users based on – you guessed it right – their charming and clever wordplay. So, here’s lesson number one – using personal pronouns such as ‘you’ or addressing the user by their name lends the users a feeling of belonging and familiarity. Make use of the active voice while addressing users, which is also a useful way to create an effective microcopy that serves the purpose and is memorable (in a good way). Write conversationally. Maintain a professional tone, and make use of familiar, simple words that do not intimidate the users.

UI mistakes UX writing tips

Minimalism works here too

Minimalism equals brevity when it comes to UX writing. Microcopy is essentially those bits of content that we see in the form of prompts, in input boxes, or on buttons, so brevity is key. As designers, you are aware of how effective design is all about retaining only the most essential parts and trimming the extras. The UX writing strategy works on similar lines. Try to keep the content helpful and concise, in that order of priority.


Source: Slack

Focus on the ‘action’

“Buy it now!”

“Click here to unlock rewards”

We talked about using the active voice in the previous point, which is a great tip for UX writing for beginners. In addition to that, placing a verb (an action word) at the beginning of the sentence can help you draft clear, unmissable instructions. Added bonus – starting with an action word can help you put your message across more effectively using minimal words.

Airbnb advertize ux writing tips

Source: Airbnb

Leave no room for doubt

Most examples of bad microcopy have a common thread running through them – that of confusion. The Cancel/Delete conundrum is a classic example. Therefore, it is vital to write a clear copy that leaves no space for misinterpretation. Provide explanations for any ambiguous actions before the user begins to form doubts. Ensure transparency and make sure the users realize what action they’re taking and why. Delivering the right information at the right time – it’s the singular goal of UX writing.

Payment alert UX writing tips

Source: Google Pay

Keep writing iterative too!

Finally, UX writing is no different from UX design. The goal of both is to provide a helpful, and seamless experience to users through words and visuals. And, the tried and tested method of creating iteratively works for content as well. You cannot be expected to churn out a perfect microcopy in the first go, so write, test, refine, and keep iterating until it’s ready to ship.

Whether you’re writing microcopy for enterprise applications or commercial ones, the effort and tenacity required are the same. In the words of noted novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Easy reading is damn hard writing”. UX writing isn’t easy, but it is a skill you can hone over time. And, in terms of skills, it is one damn good skill to have – one that can elevate you to the select league of unicorns.

More Resources:

The Rise of Predictive Analytics Technology in Enterprises

The Role of UX in Analytics and Reporting

Unlocking ROI from the Inside Out