8 Dos and Don’ts in UX Writing Guidelines

UX writing guidelines determine your users’ loyalty

Words are extraordinarily powerful, especially in internet marketing. You can be intrigued to buy a product because of the word “Flash Sale” or fill a form once you realize you will get a free e-book. Therefore, it is not surprising that writing in digital products has advanced into another specialty: UX writing. With more businesses demand this profession, you need to have functional UX writing guidelines.

This type of content writing focusses on producing words that people see when they use websites, mobile applications, or software. User experience (UX) writers have responsibilities of writing microcopies such as error messages and menu options; also macro copy like the text in the confirmation pages. 

Why UX writing is popular and important

A well-crafted design cannot rescue awful content. That is why it is important to create user-friendly words. The aim of UX writing is to develop good user experience and guide people to complete the tasks. Consequently, even the smallest button like “OK” or 404 pages has a major influence on UX writing.

According to Estimates, more than 65 percent of customer interactions have been handled by a chatbot. It becomes popular day by day. Using the help of UX writers, the chatbots’ performance can be improved because they can put themselves in customers’ shoes.

UX Writing Guidelines

DOs

1. Be clear and concise

In UX writing, every word has a purpose. If you read a long paragraph just to ask you to fill a form, you will be reluctant, right? So, shorten the writing as brief as possible by crossing out the unnecessary phrases.

For instance, the original version is: “You must sign up before you can check the ticket”. You can reduce the words by changing into this: “Sign up to check the ticket”.

The fewer words do not lose their meaning, and it can help users speed up their reading process.

Still, keep the words that are useful to direct users in finishing the progress. For example, when you use a face ID, do not write only “Face not recognized”. Add another statement like “Enter with a password” to make an alternative for users.

2. Start with an objective

Because the text must be concise, put the essential concept first, which is the objective or user goal. This strategy aims to get readers’ attention to help readers scan in a “proper” way. For instance, switch “Tap the button to find out more” to “To find out more, tap the button”.

3. Make it consistent

Inconsistency makes readers confused. The most common mistake in inconsistency is using synonyms to replace a word in another section of the UI. For example, you have chosen the word “Booking” in choosing the hotels, but you change it into the word “Scheduling” when deciding the room.

The inconsistency does not end there. Careless UX writers may slip a mistake in addressing the users. You cannot mention the user with the first and second person in one phrase. Stop writing “Check your products in My Account”. But, pick either one of them such as “Check your products in Your Account”.

4. Combine helpful graphics

When you ask the users to input a barcode number from a certain receipt, for example, they may look puzzled since there are a lot of numbers in the receipt. And, you may be hard to describe it using words. Therefore, guide them instantly by showing a picture with the receipt and pointing the barcode out.

DON’Ts

5. Do not show all details upfront

Text with long blocks is not a friend of UX writing. If you need a lot of information to show, follow these tips below.

  • You can display scannable text using bullet points and write a maximum of 80 characters for each sentence. Yet, begin the sentence with essential information. So, they can still get the main points, even though the readers skim the sentences. 
  • Just like articles, you can also divide the text into some sections by integrating headings in some parts. Use eye-catching phrases for the heading to keep them scroll down and see the brief explanation below the heading.
  • Integrate the “Learn more” link to the complete content. This will save you a lot of space and allow you to design thorough details in the link.

6. Do not forget to implement your tone and voice

You may have noticed that usefulness, clarity, and conciseness are the key to UX writing guidelines. However, if you want to build trust, express your brand voice in the writing. A good UX writer knows how to use a style that suits the voice of both the brand and the product.

For example, everyone hates a 404 page and it may be stressful for users, but Dropbox can make it fun! They incorporate a friendly illustration with useful links to complete the task. They lead readers back to Home or Help Center. Even Pixar puts Sadness from the movie Inside Out when you open encounter the 404 error. “Awww… Don’t Cry,” it says.

7. Avoid using passive voice

Let’s compare the sentence in 2 voices.

  • Passive: The Search button must be clicked to find your song
  • Active  : Click the Search button to find your song

Although both examples above use the same purpose, the passive voice increases the users’ cognitive load. The term “cognitive load” here refers to the effort of users’ brain in processing context. They probably reread it because they are confused. Oh no! This is not effective at all and it may direct users to frustration when interacting with your product.

8. Do not use double negatives

This is another prohibition in UX writing guidelines because it will make the users frown. You do not want it, right? If you do not believe it, try to digest this sentence: I do not need to unlock this account. Are you confused? Just like passive voice, double negatives are not friendly for users. When you follow these UX writing guidelines, always think your users first. Imagine as if you were them, would you enjoy the flow or even grumble about it?