Duh. This one’s obvious.
People don’t like being forced to read. Identify the most important info and say that.
Another obvious one —don’t use synonyms.
If one button says “Next”, don’t also use “Proceed” or "Continue” for other buttons.
Inconsistency confuses users. They may think “Next” and “Proceed” lead to different results.
To ensure your wording stays consistent, create a doc for you and your team that houses your most common words.
Get everyone singing the same song.
Talk like two co-workers over lunch —casual, friendly tone in a professional setting.
The tone is casual, but the same jokes can get stale.
Or even worse, no one gets it.
Even so, make routine tasks memorable by adding a bit of flair.
If your brand is playful, don’t be afraid to add emojis.
You wouldn’t want your product to break in other countries, right?
Here’s a good article from Dropbox to help with this.
It’s stronger and easier to understand than the passive voice.
Use it when you need to signal who or what caused an action.
It has its place.
Use it when the action is more important than what caused the action (aka the subject)
Answer this question for the user: “Why exactly am I here?”
Focus on relevance.
Everyone knows what to do when they see a form.
Save your breath.
Reading is work. Every word takes energy. Users like to save energy by skimming.
Leave out the unimportant. They’ll get the gist.
Keep ‘em short and snappy.
They make text sound informal and easier to read.
Overused, they become distracting and can make text look messy.
Sentence case is when you only capitalize the first letter of the first word in a phrase.
Use it most of the time —especially for buttons and links.
Title case is when you capitalize the first letter of each word, besides small words like conjunctions and prepositions.
Use it for phrases 2-3 words long —6 max.
Don’t capitalize unless they’re proper terms, branded terms, or terms for a specific functionality.
When using “your” the product feels like a personal assistant. It should be used in a social, collaborative setting —like a project management app or a smart device.
Use it for what the product creates for the user.
“My” implies individual control and ownership. It should be used where data is sensitive and a sense of security is needed —like a tax return site.
Use it for what the user creates in the product.
Point out concerning actions before your user has time to question your motives.
Use you and your to address the user directly.
However, using a personal pronoun isn’t necessary in cases where you’re not distinguishing items that belong to the user from items that belong to others.
Use action verbs.
People should be able to tell at a glance what an element does.
It’s more direct and hooks the user’s attention.
Remember this: Information → Action
Sometimes, people need a little nudge.
Give them training wheels that will subconsciously disappear over time.
Show users what they should expect.
Inform users how to perform an action.
Reassure the user that what they want is on the way.
Reassure the user that what they want has been completed.
Empower the user.
If they can have new abilities, emphasize it. → “Yes, and…”
If they can’t do something, tell them why and how they can fix it. → “No, because…”
It’s unhelpful and depressing.
People will remember how you made them feel.
The right visuals paired with the right words emphasize the message.
Similar to consistency with words —inconsistency of visuals can confuses users.
Unless you plan to shift the visuals entirely to pair with a shift in the messaging.
In general, avoid acronyms and technical sayings that people might not understand.
Use what you know about your audience to determine what’s appropriate.
In body copy, spell out numbers up to nine.
Use numerals after 10.
Show the user that they’re making the right choice in using your product.
Show only what’s necessary —when it’s necessary.
Experiment and see how people respond. Iterate, test, and improve what needs work.
Contextualized wording is better than generic wording.
No one cares about what you can do. They only care about what you can do for them.
I know, it’s pretty long. But I hope it’s helpful for you and your team.
You can find more content like this in my newsletter.
I’d also appreciate if you could show love to my twitter thread about it. If you can’t, no worries :)