Invisible copy, remarkable experience – UX Collective

How UX writing can delight users.

Jared Spool once wisely said that “great designs should be experienced and not seen”. He claims, basically, that design should be invisible and work so well users don’t realize the effort they might be putting into using your product or navigating your interface. It is just delightful, natural. It simply flows.

Have you ever asked yourself why you love the products you love or why it’s so easy to use them? Maybe not, because we tend to know exactly why we hate things but have a hard time trying to identify the reasons why we love others.

Take a test: try to list your top three qualities and your three greatest weaknesses. I bet you’ll spend a lot more time on the first. See? That’s what we do, even to ourselves. It’s natural behaviour.

So, in general, great designs create great experiences, so great we can’t even tell how. But can they do it by themselves? No. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. If you’re not considering content truly as a significant element of the UX, you might be losing an important part of the whole naturally-delightful-thing, after all:

So, do it.

An invisible, but powerful, voice of the product

When it comes to creating good UX, content can’t be considered merely as an accessory, but rather as a vital component of it. There’s no such thing as good UX without good and thoughtful content or, as it's called, UX writing.

UX writing is the crafting of copy that, together with good design, guides users within a product, helps them interact with it, and invite them to act. It's the copy that aims to improve their overall experience and allows interfaces to speak.

But what makes good UX copy? Well, as strange as it may sound, the invisibility concept must be applied here too. Yes. Invisible soundless words that say a lot. How? Good UX writing fuses with design in a way that is almost imperceptible, just as Spool said. It is so soft that users don’t notice they’re reading. They love it but, again, it’s hard to know why.

How to create invisible copy

Creating powerful and invisible UX copy seems quite hard but, at the end of the day, it all comes down to understanding users and empathising with them. Here are some basics:

1. Know them all to own them all

It's far more than a duty for UX writers to advocate for the user. It’s vital to understand who they are, what they need, their behaviour, what motivates or frightens them, their pain points, their expectations, etc. UX writers have to know them all. Only by fully understanding and thinking like them, an appropriate and 100% user-centred copy can be written and a good UX can be drawn.

2. Write as a human, for humans

There’s no way any copy can be read and understood by users if the words in it aren’t familiar to them. UX writing has a duty to keep it simple, straight, helpful and, above all, human. Using natural language, both to the interface and its users, ensures a more fluid experience and creates a really good sense of ownership. Sometimes, the temptation to write in designer or software engineer language is big, but ask yourself: do you really want to focus your copy on your own context? The answer is no. Always keep users in mind.

3. Be invisible together

If copy and design merge to create good UX, needless to say, they have to be developed together. They’re two sides of the same coin: user needs. In order to be more relevant and get better outcomes, both teams have to be aligned and share the same goal: creating a delightful experience. Being invisible together and contributing to each other will not only make the creation process more efficient but also more user-centred.

4. Be consistent

When creating copy for products, it can be surprising how many places or empty states can be found to drop some beautiful and useful words in. That’s, of course, a good opportunity to create ways to interact with users and guide them to act, though that can get tricky as users can easily get confused with different terminology for the same purpose. So, creating patterns and staying strict to the product voice and tone is more than essential.

There’s always room for surprises

Crafting content to delight users on product interfaces isn’t easy, but there are a lot of tools to get the job done. By combining team alignment, empathy and a data-driven and testing mindset, delighting users is a matter of staying invisible, but leaving room for little surprises. To do that, keepsome clever but pertinent microcopy strategies in mind. You’d be amazed by the wonders tiny words can do.

Author: Elton Gutoch

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