Product Writing

The pri­ma­ry goal of writ­ing for prod­uct is to help users com­plete their tasks eas­i­ly and effi­cient­ly. All con­tent should be clear, con­cise, con­sis­tent and useful.

It’s not about get­ting noticed. In fact, if the words work so well with­in the expe­ri­ence that they start to feel invis­i­ble, you’ve done your job. Let the design do the talk­ing when it comes to cap­tur­ing the user’s attention.

What is the user ulti­mate­ly try­ing to accom­plish? If the answer to that ques­tion caus­es you to fun­da­men­tal­ly rethink the pur­pose or struc­ture of the screen, that’s a good thing. Nothing half-baked should go out the door.

Whether it’s guid­ing users, explain­ing fea­tures or dis­clos­ing infor­ma­tion, pri­or­i­tize user needs first.

It’s okay to start with vague, unpol­ished lan­guage — so much so, it’s actu­al­ly encour­aged. First, focus on how that con­tent should func­tion with­in the inter­face. Copy here telling users to take this par­tic­u­lar action to fix their account issue.”

Your first stab at real” copy shouldn’t be your last. Write, cut, then cut some more. Challenge your­self to use as few words as possible.

The best way to explain some­thing to a user is to say it exact­ly how they would. If there’s a phrase you’ve nev­er heard out­side of your own team, chances are your audi­ence has nev­er heard of it. Rephrase.

Do your due dili­gence. Go back through any user research to see what vocab­u­lary your audi­ence is actu­al­ly using. You can also reach out to inter­nal sup­port team mem­bers, mar­ket­ing man­agers and sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives to give your copy a test run.

If you’re writ­ing full sen­tences, paste them into hem​ing​wayapp​.com to make sure your read­abil­i­ty score is a sev­enth grade or below.

Simplifying doesn’t mean dumb­ing it down, it means mak­ing con­tent acces­si­ble. Decreasing cog­ni­tive load helps every­one more eas­i­ly digest what you’re putting on the screen. Consider break­ing infor­ma­tion and data into charts or lists if it’ll make things eas­i­er to trans­late or understand.

Is lan­guage con­sis­tent for CTAs that per­form the same action? Are head­lines struc­tured the same way across screens? Do key terms get the same cap­i­tal­iza­tion treatment?

Go beyond the prod­uct. From a user’s per­spec­tive, it doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence who pro­duced the con­tent or where they’re con­sum­ing it — our lan­guage shouldn’t change across channels.

  • Where is the user com­ing from?
  • How much do they already know (or how little)?
  • What are we real­ly try­ing to say here?
  • What is the user try­ing to do?
  • Does this con­tent need to be repur­posed some­where else?
  • What does the user expect to hap­pen next?
Last Updated: 26 May 2020 at 2:51pm CDT