Microcopy for a Perfect Web Design

Posted on
April 12, 2021

The Devil’s in the details. Details are important in your website, and microcopy is taking care of details! The microcopy is a forgotten text in many web pages, but it is a differentiator that will separate you from your competition and win over more users. 

When we decide to bet on a copy, we usually focus on big texts that go directly to your homepage, your about page or service page. However, as we care about creating compelling headlines or a memorable call to action (CTA), we shouldn't forget the little texts that make a big difference. Those words humanize the conversation and move to action.

What is microcopy?

Microcopy is those little words or phrases that help improve the UX (user experience) on a web page, add personality to texts and most importantly, encourage readers (and potential customers) to take action while reducing the rate of abandonment and increasing sales. We use microcopy to motivate users to take action, to solve their doubts, calm their fears, make them feel that they are not alone and that we are there to help them.  

To get an idea of how important microcopy is, user’s search skills are low and only 1% can shift search strategy (nngroup) and 12% of users will immediately leave your website after unsatisfactory results during the search process (Algolia).

So, adding text to guide your user improves UX as a whole because every potential customer who comes to your website is afraid. They don’t know what is behind the screen. But a few words (in the form of a microcopy), will give them clarity and consistency to continue browsing... And in the end, they will buy your product, hire your service, subscribe to your newsletter, or download your PDF.

Microcopy is like the reassuring words of a mother telling her child that there is no monster under the bed before turning off the lights. A message at the right time to get the child (your audience) to fall asleep.

Just one word can make a difference!

What are the benefits of microcopy in your business?

Microcopy is almost everywhere. Don't think that because it is "micro", it doesn't matter. Its power is greater than a great headline because it will:

  • Motivate customers to take action (for example, the button text to buy or contact).
  • Tell customers what or how to perform an action (for example, a message that tells them to select an option from the drop-down).
  • Inform customers of the result of the action (for example, a notice that their message has been sent/received).

1. Humanize your digital business

People need the contact of other people, and buying or contacting a professional through a computer is impersonal. But, with microcopy, you can establish a climate of trust with clients. 

Think that the person on the other side of the screen doesn't know you at all and if, for example, they need to leave their personal information or their credit card, they are surely suspicious; but if they read a small text that says «Don't worry, your bank details will be safer here than in the Federal Reserve. All the information you enter is encrypted». They will have more trust in you, and this can give them peace of mind and security if you are not a well-known company.

Additionally, some time ago, I read an article about a hotel that used to leave a note under the bed with the following message: «Yes, down here we also clean» And it is what you get when you apply details to your business, service or product, you make all details perfect for your customers to have a better experience.

Microcopy is like that note under the bed: you barely notice it, but it makes a difference and gives you the certainty that the business cares about details and UX. The little sentences you write can have a big impact and help you improve the usability of your website.

In fact, sometimes the microcopy is the only real interaction you will have with your prospects and your website visitors need to know, at all times, if something is wrong or simply see that you thank them for trusting in your product or service. They need a "your message has been sent" or "in 24 hours we will answer" to know that you're there to help them.

2. Reinforce your brand image and tone of voice

Branding is not just your web design or company logo. Branding is everything you do in your business, and microcopy is a good way to reinforce it. Is your brand fun? Is your brand committed to ecology? Show it to the reader in each mini-text you write. Use mini texts adapted to your brand in:

  • Buttons (with calls to action)
  • On the error page
  • In the message in which you thank for the purchase
  • Etc.

In every corner of your website, you have an excellent opportunity to transmit personality and values through microcopy.

3. Improve UX on your page

Have you ever filled out a subscription form and nothing happened? No immediate message, no phrase confirming that everything is fine, that the procedure is complete. Do you remember the feeling of helplessness, almost pissed off because no one answered your call? That is what we avoid with the microcopy.

Through microcopy, you can increase users’ confidence and make them feel more comfortable, and remind them you think of them on the other side of the screen. 

4. It can help you improve conversions

If users feel comfortable and know what will happen when they do a certain action or what is the next step to follow, it’s easier for them to trust you and end up doing what you want, buying, subscribing, leaving their data or responding to a questionnaire.

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.” Joyce Meyer

Although the microcopy is a short text, it alleviates or solves the problems of your users. It is functional and it guides your customers through the places on your page that you want them to go. However, you should avoid using microcopy the wrong way. Errors that you should not make with the microcopy:

  • Be inconsistent. The microcopy will give confidence to your customers and reinforce the image of your business only if it is consistent. And by consistency, we mean using the same tone of voice and the same type of language. For example, don't write serious and distant texts on your blog page and a lighthearted microcopy when your leads sign up for your newsletters.
  • Ignore the microcopy of other pages. If your imagination is in "danger of extinction" and writing is not your thing, I recommend that before doing a lousy microcopy, you take inspiration (DO NOT copy) from other web pages. Explore different styles and emulate the one you identify as "your style." Starting from scratch is hard, so don't screw up by ignoring the inspiration that other businesses can bring you.

Where should you use microcopy?

You can find the microcopy in call-to-actions, the 404-error page, cookie messages, transactional messages, etc.

  • CTAs. CTA with a “View Bundle”  increased conversions by 17.18% (CXL). 
  • Subscription forms and thank you page. The moment of capturing the data to convert your user into a lead or subscriber is critical, so write a good message to thank them and add images to make the message clearer.
  • 404 Error Page. A page with broken links and errors leads users to frustration and 74% of users who reach a 404 error leave your website (Impactbnd). So, you better guide your visitors somewhere else on your website with a quick message. 
  • Contact Page. Take advantage of them, encourage them to take that first step that can turn them into your customers.
  • Cookies and legal texts. Even something as unattractive a priori as legal texts or the cookie message can have your delicate touch thanks to the microcopy. 

If you’re not using microcopy, you’re barking up the wrong tree

Remember that your website is full of small opportunities to capture the attention of your users. How do you think that person feels? How do you think they rate their experience on your website? To improve the user experience in your business you have to check every detail and fill your website with these little messages.

Ask yourself what parts of your website require microcopy. And what information it should contain. It's easier than you think and we're here to help you. Contact us if you need a hand with that.

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