Best practice tips for UX copywriting

We’ve distilled our knowledge and experience in writing UX copy into a checklist you can use on your own projects

 Best practice tips for UX copywriting

FUNCTIONAL – UX copy is at the service of the task

  • You understand the user task your copy will support, including its visual and functional design.
  • Copy helps the user to understand the journey.
  • Copy anticipates problems and barriers in the user experience and addresses them – 'Forgotten your password?' 
  • Copy works hand in hand with design to make the function clear to the user.

AUDIENCE-LED – UX copy is appropriate to its audience

  • You understand who will use the copy and their immediate tasks and goals.
  • You are aware of any relevant user research and testing.
  • Copy models user outcomes and goals – 'Find a branch', not 'Launch branch finder'
  • Copy uses analogy to describe unfamiliar things or processes in a familiar way – 'Save this person to your address book'.
  • Copy is written for the least knowledgeable reader in your audience.

SCANNABLE – UX copy is easy to scan read

  • Copy is brief and plain.
  • Copy is front-loaded – the user benefit comes first.
  • Buttons, field labels and link text are self-contained and meaningful.

CONTEXT-AWARE – UX copy works in its technical and local context

  • You are aware of the specific requirements of the platform – desktop, tablet, smartphone, touch-enabled laptop, various operating systems, email clients – and adapt your copy where necessary.
  • Where possible, copy is made for reuse across platforms.
  • Copy is easy to translate and localise: it avoids idioms and culturally specific references.

SIMPLE – UX copy is functional before it is promotional

  • Copy is specific, helpful and clear, not flowery.
  • Copy avoids over-selling and hyperbole.
  • Tone of voice does not compromise clarity.
  • Jargon is replaced with plain language.
  • You have taken special care to make error messages clear and jargon-free.
  • If an unfamiliar term is necessary for precision or brevity, provide an explanation (for example, in a tooltip or with a link to a glossary).

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