Nailing the user experience copy conundrum

Content and copy creation is a major consideration in digital development. It helps cement consistency in brand messaging and also makes platforms work for the end user. Here are some key thoughts from our content specialist and copy-writer, Seb Lauzier.

 

Brand-match your content's tone and be consistent

 

Your web content is an extension of your  brand and often the first conversation you'll have with a prospective client. So, while it needs to work together with the design, it also needs to match your brand identity.

 

Avoiding inconsistency is important, both in syntax and also in brand tone. If you refer to something as 'enrolment' throughout a page, do not then refer to it as 'registration' in the last paragraph - it will confuse the user. In terms of brand tone, staying true to your values and your culture will also make sure you attract the clients you want, and avoid wasting time talking with people and companies you wouldn't be comfortable working with anyway, and vice versa.

 

Use real text in the development cycle

 

Problems with text or images can flag up bigger issues. If there's too much or too little space you will soon know, but only if you commit to using real copy. Using a few sentences of latin text - every developer's go-to - may act as a placeholder but it will never help you in the same way. Settling on the perfect words can also take time, so start the process early.

 

Keep it brief

 

If wikipedia can explain who Albert Einstein was and what he invented in 20 words, one or two sentences should be enough for most things. The most important text should obviously go first. Avoid long blocks of text and whatever follows your main point should be pruned back to the bare essentials. If you have more to say, save it for below the fold, 'More' pages or blogs.

 

Use layman's terms

 

Make sure you speak the user’s language, not yours. Treat them like a normal person, not an engineer or a web developer. That means no jargon. A good UX (user experience) copywriter should make sure you keep the language accessible. 

 

Think device

 

If you're designing for desktop, you may get away with more text and rely on side navigation bars and graphics to break things up. If you're designing a mobile app or responsive site, think carefully about the balance of text and the amount that's going to show in one block. 

 

Test with focus groups

 

Do not underestimate the importance and value of getting feedback. You might think your website says all it needs to say but you will inevitably be making huge assumptions of your user's knowledge. Sending the website to a remote group of users for feedback on content is a good idea. Then getting a smaller focus group to use it under observation can be a key part of User Acceptance Testing (UAT). It will flag up quirky behaviour and bugs, and also any misleading text. 

 

Create engaging content

 

If you have more to say than your copy can cope with, get creative and commit your thoughts to regular blogs. Not only is this great for SEO because it updates your website regularly, it's also a great way to engage with your clients and industry community. 
 

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