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Microcopy: Writing an Interface

Intercom posted a great checklist of things to consider when writing microcopy — buttons, help text, and success/error messages — for your website or application.

Microcopy is an often neglected aspect of user interface design. It’s tempting to provide generic button text (“Save”, “Cancel”) or form labels (“Blog title”, “Email”) and leave it at that.

But microcopy is a great opportunity to educate users on how a feature benefits them while also reinforcing their mental model of your application. And it adds that important human touch to your interface. For example:

  • Instead of labeling a button “Save”, use “Save as draft”.
  • Rather than provide useless help text for a form field (“This is your blog title”), explain the value of filling it out (“A catchy blog title grabs attention and gets you more visitors”).
  • Use success/error messages to show your app’s personality (“Huzzah, your post has been published on your blog!”). Robotic messages like “Post saved successfully” are boring and uninspiring.

Polishing your microcopy adds clarity, and makes your users feel like they’re accomplishing something tangible rather than just using faceless software.