UX writing fundamentals: Everything you need to know when optimizing your mobile app’s UX writing
David Hartery, Senior Content Marketing Editor, Adjust, Aug 20, 2020.
What’s the difference between a good app and great app? User experience. And it’s a UX writer’s job to guide users through the experience. This is true for all app verticals and should never be ignored during the process of optimizing a mobile app. To ensure users get the best experience possible, we’ve created this guide for beginner UX writers — from crucial definitions to examples of UX writing to best practices, this guide has it all.
What is UX writing?
UX writing is the process of writing in-app copy to help users efficiently operate and navigate through your app. This is important because UX writing helps users understand how to use your product. This requires UX writers to identify the type of communication that needs to happen and – just like SEO and ASO – determine the optimal word choice for each situation. Due to the nature of UX writing, these decisions must be informed by your mobile app’s target audience and the data they generate, adapting to their needs and pain points.
Learn UX writing with these Five examples
Call-to-action (CTA): A CTA invites users to complete a particular action. This is a critical aspect of UX writing that can have a significant effect on reaching your goals. As a general rule, CTAs are most successful when they are short and concise - and it’s essential that your CTAs make it clear what action will be completed if users choose to click. For example, if your mobile app works on a freemium model, you may want to send an interstitial ad with a CTA to upgrade to your premium service. In this scenario, your CTA can be as simple as “Upgrade now.”. While being direct with your users, this also prevents users from accidentally clicking on your CTA and landing on a page for which they have no interest.
Tool tips: Some of the most useful in-app functions require a more detailed explanation. This is where tool tips can help users understand how to get the best experience when using your mobile app. Tool tips are a great way to improve your onboarding and keep users updated with new tools that they may not understand. To avoid disrupting users, you can include tool tips as a ‘help’ icon or even just a question mark, which can then be expanded for a detailed explanation of each tool.
Success/failure notification: This type of UX writing is designed to inform users when an action has been completed or if an issue has occurred when trying to complete the action. This can be particularly useful for your users when moving through your user funnel. For example, if a user’s payment fails, it’s critical that they are informed. This prevents confusion and ensures that the user can resubmit their order.
Your failure notifications should provide information that enable your users to easily move forward. This can avoid users from losing interest before completing an essential action, such as adding items to their cart or a purchase event.
Navigation options: There may be times when a user has multiple ways to operate your app based on their individual needs. In this scenario, you need to inform your users of their ability to choose their preferred action. For example, once a user has added an item to their cart, you may want to present two options: would they like to go directly to checkout or continue shopping for more products? This is when you should provide alternative navigation options for your user to provide a streamlined experience.
Account management: You may need to provide some assistance when users create new accounts, update their details, and learn about other aspects of account management. This type of UX writing aims to simplify the process of maintaining account details and managing the several account options your mobile app has to offer. For example, if a user wants to connect their social media pages to their account, they will need to be guided through this process with efficient UX writing.
Who is tasked with UX writing?
This will vary depending on the size, resources and structure of your company. In theory, the expertise of developers, UX designers, copywriters or marketers makes them suitable for UX writing. In an ideal world, companies would have dedicated UX writers that can also A/B test different copy for optimal results. But if resources are tight, brands should still ensure that UX writing isn’t solely created by developers who are more focused on your app’s functionality than connecting with your target audience. It’s also important to note that UX writing necessitates a specific skill to guide users through an experience and is not always comparable to successful copywriting.
What’s the difference between UX writing and microcopy?
UX writing and microcopy are not interchangeable terms. Microcopy refers to the small copy found throughout your app that helps users know how to use your app. While this is an essential part of UX writing, there are several other types of copy that are needed to provide users with the best possible experience. For example, you may need to provide longer text to explain a new feature with detailed tool tips.
Best practices: 10 UX writing rules for optimal results
- Work on UX writing during development to identify design issues: UX writing can be a smart way to identify issues with your UX design – something that is better to spot sooner rather than later in your development process. For example, if you have a feature that requires a long-form explanation in order to operate, it may be that the feature itself is the problem. You can then look for solutions to make the feature more intuitive and easier to use before implementation.
- Maintain a consistent writing style throughout your UX: It is essential that your UX writing offers a cohesive experience for the user. Regardless of word length, your UX writing must maintain a consistent voice throughout your mobile app. This should be developed based on your target audience and optimized by testing what works best for your users.
- Use a variety of fonts, colors and text tools: Successful UX writing often draws attention to the most important aspects of a sentence using color, different fonts and text tools such as bold or italics. This may go unnoticed by many users, but you only need to visit the most popular mobile apps to realize that this is regularly implemented as a UX writing technique. However, writers must work with UX designers during this optimization stage and test each variant for best results.
- Create and optimize your workflow for best results: It’s important to create a workflow for your UX writing process because these texts will be implemented across your entire mobile app. You may want to prioritize your onboarding experience to ensure that your text successfully guides the user. However you choose to prioritize certain areas of your app, it’s important to set a workflow and ensure every aspect is covered and given appropriate attention to detail.
- Display information selectively: Not all UX writing needs to be displayed immediately to your users. It’s important to identify the “critical” text that needs to be shown and text that is better kept one tap away via icons or pop-ups. Including information unnecessarily can frustrate the user and even cause them to churn. For example, if a user is regularly using a certain app feature, they won’t want to constantly dismiss UX writing telling them how it works.
- Avoid jargon that could cause confusion: You may be tempted to use technical terms and industry jargon in order to be precise. However, this could actually be harmful to the overall user experience. Focus on simplicity and clarity to ensure that users can understand which actions they need to perform and how to navigate through your app. You can also make your messages as clear as possible by using the present tense and writing in the active voice.
- Be conversational: Depending on the nature of your app, you can use UX writing as an opportunity to build brand loyalty and connect with your target audience by being conversational. In many cases, you can show your brand’s human side through word choice. For example, you may want to use a humorous, conversational tone of voice to get your message across. For example, if you have a dating app and want to encourage your users to upload a profile image, “upload an image” is less likely to connect with your audience than “Show off your smile.”
- Recognize the value of user feedback: Receiving user feedback is a smart way to ensure that you are responding to what matters most to your customers. When a user takes time to offer free insights into how your app can improve, it’s essential brands recognize the value or this feedback and respond as soon as possible. This is a smart way to retain users for longer and increase your lifetime value (LTV). Staying responsive to user feedback is also a great way to build brand loyalty and let users know you care about the quality of their experience.
- A/B testing all areas of your UX writing: You should always be looking for ways to optimize your UX writing. A/B testing enables you to identify optimizations without making changes that are detrimental to your goals. For example, you may find that small changes to your onboarding messages reduces churn and increases LTV. You can also use A/B testing to test areas such as chatbot messaging.
- Support your UX writing decisions with data: It’s always beneficial to support your decisions with data when optimizing your UX writing. By making data-driven decisions you can have confidence that your changes are aligned with user behavior and demands. Using data to identify areas for improvement can also increase revenue and ensure that your time is spent optimizing the areas that are most in need of improvements. For example, if you learn that your mobile app has an unusually high number of users abandoning their carts before purchasing, there may be an issue with your UX writing at the checkout stage.
For more mobile marketing insights, read our guide to understanding the user journey for mobile apps. You may also be interested in reading our 7 tips for streamlining your re-engagement creative strategy.