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Focusing on copy can dramatically improve user response June 18, 2009

Posted by jeremyliew in copy, product management, UI, usability.
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A couple of years ago I posted about how improving copy is an easy way to increase user interaction. Bokardo recently posted on a similar topic, about how microcopy can improve your user interface:

Microcopy is extremely contextual…that’s why it’s so valuable. It answers a very specific question people have and speaks to their concerns right on the spot. And because its so contextual, microcopy isn’t always obvious. Sometimes you have to hunt to find the right words. (or create an error notification service like I did) How to discover these hurdles? Talk to people! Why aren’t they adopting your software? What concerns do they have? What are they worried about? Successful salesmen know the power of these small turns of phrase. They have an arsenal of them for every situation.

Here are some other examples:

  • When signing up for a newsletter, say “this low-volume newsletter”
  • When people add their emails, say “we hate spam as much as you do”
  • When subscribing for something free, say “you can always unsubscribe at any time”
  • When selling an paid-for web application, be sure to let people know if you have a free trial.
  • When storing customer’s information, say “You can export your information at any time”
  • If offering optional account creation, say “If you create an account, you’ll be able to track your package”

All of these microcopy examples have one thing in common: they help to alleviate concerns of would-be customers. They help to reduce commitment by speaking directly to the thoughts in people’s heads. That’s why this copy can be so short yet so powerful.

Don’t be deceived by the size of microcopy. It can make or break an interface.

Writing good copy may not feel as heroic as implementing a huge new code base, but it can often by just as effective in increasing user interaction.

Comments»

1. John Sharp - June 18, 2009

Great post. This theory is absolutely correct – especially with respect to email lists and “free” services.

These days, many users view “free” offerings with suspicion – because their email in-boxes have been horribly abused in the past. We managed to get around this by simply adding the email frequency rate on one of our sites, along with a promise (“We never spam – you will receive a maximum of one email per month”). This improved our mailing list sign-up rates considerably.

Note: We are moving to include microcopy as part of the title tag on html objects for this reason also.

2. CPA Arbitrage Review - June 22, 2009

This technique is useful ..with it you can get some big improvements ..When you want to start a business or something..first you have to check the competitors way of doing that thing..


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