Microcopy usually consists of a short sentence or word. It’s the small set of instructions that usually doesn’t get much attention, but can make all the difference in how you communicate with your users. It helps nudge and inform users as you try to lead them to use your services, buy your products, or experience your website. Feedback on form submissions, loading screens, buttons, error messages and notifications, and even a 404 page are all great examples of microcopy on your site. Let’s be honest though, when was the last time you thought about them? For most website owners those items fall to the bottom of the list.
It’s these small, concise sections of the website that really bridge your content with user experience. If you sell a service, you probably want to drive people to contact you for a quote, an estimate, or to view your pricing table. Choosing the right words, you can get people there, hopefully in the fewest number of clicks. Here are some tips to help you write that good copy.
Know your audience
Similar to your website content, it’s important to write microcopy for your audience. A tech savvy crowd might understand and follow technical instructions while a less tech savvy crowd may get confused, frustrated or lost. Age can also be an important factor. A younger, more internet-experienced crowd may already know that clicking on those three horizontal bars will open the menu. Heck, they may even know that it’s often called a ‘hamburger menu,’ but those less experienced website users won’t.
Less is more
Writing in as few words as possible is what you should aim for, especially on the smaller parts of a website. Using small, targeted words can help keep the website looking clean and uncluttered and convey important sections. This is particularly important for items such as menus and buttons. “Pricing Options” can become “Pricing.” “News Page” can be shortened to “News.”
As with most copy, we want to prevent users from being intimidated by large sections of text. So being concise can help. Why use four words when one will do?
That being said…
Beware of being too vague
While it’s important not to bog down your site with too much content, it’s also important to note that sometimes those little bits of instructions may not be clear enough. It’s important to think through the steps and make sure you’re giving the clearest instructions. Most sites have contact forms. Are they really “submitting” a form or “contacting” you? What does contacting you really mean? Submit and Contact are two of the most common buttons for forms and it’s short, but also really vague. Instead using “Click for a Free Quote” or “Submit for Free Quote” helps the user know that by submitting the form what the action really entails. They are asking for that free quote.
Microcopy is all about the happy balance between using as few words as possible, but explaining actions as clearly as you can.
Think about microcopy early on
The really great websites out there use microcopy to their advantage. Thinking about the little things as soon as you can will help add the fine-polish and clarity to your site. A good website needs to have good direction, let the little words guide your users through the site and towards a goal. Whether that is to contact you for a service quote or to buy your product directly, you need to guide users there in as few clicks as possible. Microcopy helps you do that. Start thinking about what you want to say early on.
If content is king, then microcopy is queen
Microcopy helps guide users through the website. Harnessing good copy can help nudge clients towards your products and services. It’s important to be clear and not vague, but also to do so in as few words as possible.
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