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.
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?