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5 Tips to Write Better UX Copy

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Pauline Wee
Product Manager and Designer
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You’ve done the research, built the wireframes, and designed the final few screens— but wait! Have you checked the copy?

UX Copy is the words that guide your users all throughout their interaction with your product. It fills a range of functions: advocating for your brand, solving customer service problems, closing sales, and sparking delight, just to name a few. It can mean the difference between your users completing their journey or quitting halfway through.

In short, it’s too important to leave to chance. Here are five tips to write UX copy that’s guaranteed to guide, support, and delight.

1. Spellcheck.

Wrong grammar and obvious misspellings immediately make even good work look sloppy and amateur. They can even turn your user off from engaging with your product at all.

For that reason, make sure to go over your final copy with a fine-toothed comb. Check tense, grammar, punctuation, and tone; put it through Grammarly if you must.

I’ve also found that reading copy out loud helps weed out awkward repetitions and unnatural flow.

2. When in doubt, add supporting copy.

Adding labels is one of the easiest ways to make icons more accessible.

While it’s tempting to keep interfaces as minimalist as possible, symbols or icons can mean different things to different people. Simplicity isn’t always super UX-friendly. When in doubt, adding copy can really help make things clear.

In practice, there are lots of ways to do this.

  1. Add a label instead of just an icon.
  2. Add instructions and placeholders to text fields and editable forms.
  3. Add helper text, onboarding pages, FAQs — anything that might reduce the confusion.

Design-wise, also make sure that all your copy, especially helper text, is easy to access and clear to see.

3. Use active language.

Note the strong verbs and short sentences. These allow the user to quickly figure out what to fill in.

Your user is usually on your product to get something done. To make that journey easy, start sentences with strong verbs (Start, Share, Click, Search) that help them quickly understand what actions to take.

It also helps to change copy from the passive to the active voice, e.g.:

Passive: This field is where you can add up to three tags about your post.
Active: Add up to three tags here.
Passive: This food order can be viewed by clicking this button.
Active: Click to view order.
(or alternatively, just design a button that says “View Order”.)

4. Write simply.

Before and after. Less – and I mean a lot less – is usually more.

The best copy is usually simple, short, and straight to the point. When you’re writing, always ask yourself: What am I really trying to say, and why?

In fact, a good rule of thumb is to write copy that even a grade schooler could understand. Use simple sentences, pare down your adjectives and adverbs, and cut the fluff. Most of the time, people won’t read the extra words anyway.

5. Sprinkle in some personality. ✨

A little bit of personality on our 404 page from Catbee, our company cat.

Lastly, writing copy can be purely functional, but it can also be a great way to show off your brand’s personality. Copy on 404 pages like the one above can instantly introduce users to the spirit of your brand and spark delight even when things go wrong.

The kind of personality to add will vary from product to product, and playfulness might be better in some places and not others. However, at the end of the day, copy should still feel like it was written by a human being, for a human being.

Read your copy aloud and ask: What does this make me feel? Would I say this to someone in real life?

In summary:

  1. Spellcheck.
  2. When in doubt, add supporting copy.
  3. Use active language.
  4. Write simply.
  5. Sprinkle in some personality.

With these five tips in action, you’ll be amazed by how much more clarity and engagement users will feel as they navigate your product.

What are you waiting for? Happy writing! 🐝

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pauline Wee
Product Manager and Designer
Pauline is a strategic and growth-focused product manager, front-end developer, data analyst, and designer. She's currently studying Computer Science, Business, and Interactive Media at New York University Abu Dhabi and has founded multiple design organizations in university. Pauline is a Pulitzer Prize winner for essay writing and has debated at the national level.
Web Design
Graphic Design
Frontend Web Dev
Data Science
Copywriting
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