N to Z of successful UX design for copy – Part 2

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Remember that every element on a web page needs to be considered for copy that assists users. Forms, FAQs, drop downs – there is research on the words to use for all of them. We all want users to find our site, find what they want and engage with us. Every element needs to work.

Overflow

You might want your cup to runneth over but never your copy. Clear, concise, crisp – that’s what we need from copy. The best user design is one that respects the user. On the internet, no one reads. Say what you need, then go home.

Page scales to topic

For complex or unfamiliar content, leave more room for copy.

Questions, quizzes and queries

User testing via A/B sampling, user questionnaires, or quizzes all help ensure that copy is user focused. Also spend time questioning the client about what they think the user wants. Try to write copy that achieves what the user wants and the client will pay for. Have fun!

Resources

Brand position papers, style guides, content checklists, dictionaries, existing marketing collateral and digital assets. All go to providing the copywriter the preferred style and tone of voice for a site. Combined with great research, it really kick-starts copy creation.

Story telling

Users connect with stories. How can we tell the story of this site? What is the best way to tell the story? How can you make copy visual?

Typos

We love designers – they are so talented and creative but how many of them can spell? Users, particularly of sites aimed at older readers and the literati, hate spelling and grammatical errors. Typos are your enemy and most of them will be found in the graphs, text-on-images, and other pictorial elements of a website.

Ensure that you have a good relationship with your designer so that you can point out all their idiosyncratic spelling without them feeling that they are being attacked.

User experience

Content-driven user experience includes clear wording, prominent CTAs and a strong value proposition.

Videos

See W3C below. Videos need captions, and content and copy need to meet W3C WCAG level AA, at least. You can read all about our accessible guidelines including our 2-hour video course on how to make videos – and other static and timed media – accessible.

W3C

The World Wide Web Consortium lays down guidelines for web content accessibility – which includes stuff related to copy. We usually tell designers that adhering to Level AA guidelines helps with SEO. Then you don’t have to explain yourself. If you don’t know how to meet these standards, see Videos above for what you need to know.

XML site maps

Site maps – every website should have two. The XML sitemap for search engines and indexing, and the HTML site map for reader/user accessibility. Reader-first design helps all users navigate their way around, makes content more accessible and helps with SEO. Win, win, win.

You

The most important word in the language for copywriters. Ensure that the copy is written for “you” the audience and not “me” the client or writer. This will increase readability – the No 1 aim of a writer.

Zen and the art of…

One upon a time it was motorcycle maintenance that merited a book on Zen wisdom; since Steve Jobs, it’s been user design. Elegant simplicity; effortless effectiveness – that’s what we seek for user experience. While you may not be able to incorporate all seven Zen principles, simplicity and naturalness are key.

 

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About

Maureen Shelley is CEO and owner of TCC. She is an experienced digital and content strategist and was a nationally-syndicated journalist. Our all-round guru. Maureen manages corporate, digital and government projects for TCC. She loves helping clients and, with three masters degrees, knows lots.

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