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Design Thoughts

My Favourite Microcopy

Posted 5 years ago by Udit Gupta
My Favourite Microcopy

Microcopy is the teeny-weeny text or sentences that you see on the user interface of an app. In terms of user experience, I think it plays a crucial role in differentiating a good product from an insanely great one.

I recently had the opportunity to work on a product which needed to communicate a lot of things to the user, on it’s interface. While I was working on it, I started consciously taking note of how other products use microcopy or copy in general to make their products better at every step.

So here’s a small repository of insanely great microcopy/product copy examples that I found on the products I use. I’ve tried to segregate them by their usage to get a better understanding of them.

The “What’s Next?” copy

Kill anxiety at every step

Predictability is a key aspect of any product. Telling the user of what can or can’t happen on pressing a button reduces the anxiety a user might have while using your product. “Will my card get debited if I press the button?”, “How long before I can complete my booking/order?”— The copy which helps users answer these doubts, is the “What’s next?” microcopy.

Products where a user transaction is involved, need to pay special attention to this. It helps ensure a smooth flow through the transaction, especially if the user is trying out a product for the first time.

Here are some examples of this taken from products which I use frequently:

Amazon — while asking users for their payment information, Amazon makes sure users know that their money is not being debited just yet. They can still choose to drop the order at the next step.

Amazon.com’s checkout button while making a payment

Airbnb has a similar note below their reserve button about pressing the reserve button won’t do.

Airbnb’s book button

Booking.com stresses upon the ease of reserving a room in their microcopy under the reserve button on their website.

Booking.com’s reserve button

The “Why This?” copy

Reduces shock value

There might be instances in our products, where it’s not clear to the user as to why he’s being asked to perform a certain action. These actions can be as small as asking for their pin code to as perturbing as asking for their credit card. The “why this” copy helps alleviate any light negative emotions a user might undergo on encountering such actions.

The most common instances that you are likely to have gone through such copy is on subscription services. Almost all subscription services offer a trial period in return of your credit card details. This is a lot to ask but it’s possible.

Linkedin does a bloody good job at it by telling succinctly as to why they need a credit card & clears any concerns a user might have.

Info copy on Linkedin’s trial page

Evernote too clears the air by clearly mentioning that the card won’t be charged until the end of the trial period.

The copy before evernote’s checkout button

Netflix is another great example of this kind of microcopy. It clearly states that they’ll email the user before charging their card. They also reiterate that the subscription can be cancelled easily before the trial ends.

Netflix’s final step before activating trial

The “choose one” copy

Ask for it nicely

Users need to frequently make a lot of choices while using products they like. These choices can vary from, asking the user to select a default account, to, getting them to choose their next playlist. This is where most product fail. They are bland in asking the user to make a choice, “Select an account to proceed”, “Pick from the following” etc.

Few products however, have innovated beautifully in this genre:
I love the way Netflix asks me to select my profile whenever I fire it up. “Who’s watching” adds a very personal touch to an otherwise tasteless “Please select an account”.

Netflix’s profile selection

Uber instead of asking you to rate your driver, asks you about your trip. I think this is much more delightful and removes the disgust of rating another person.

Uber asking for rating the trip

These are a few examples I really like. I will keep collecting such great examples of copy and posting them here. If you have taken note of any such examples in the products you use, feel free to share them. Btw, I have more to write on — the “welcome” copy, and “it’s not an error” copy! Coming soon.

Like I mentioned earlier, microcopy is essential for building insanely great products. So if you are building one, make sure you communicate well with your users throughout their journey. If you’re keen on how copy on products should work, I highly recommend this book.

This article was originally published on Udit's Medium page.

Product @ Zomato | Twitter

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