Microcopy is one of those things that is hard to define (how does it differ from regular or maxicopy?) but you know it when you see it.

There's a loyal following of UX bods behind these kind of microinteractions and how they can be enhanced with little pieces of finely judged copywriting.

I've written about it before (see previous post on micro-copywriting), but thought I should thrown down some of the finest examples of this fine art.

These are bits of copy most websites could implement somewhere, and without precluding the need for testing, I'm sure they will improve performance.

caSe sensiTive

eBay shows us how easy it is to help the user. No extra copy needed here, just a couple of upper case letters to demonstrate to the hazy what case sensitive means.

Being irreverent with copy and perhaps disregarding a style guide is somewhat of a theme with microcopy. Without condescending to the user, one can include down to Earth copy that people can understand.

case sensitive microcopy

via amishrobot on Flickr

Never shared, never spammed

Memonic, a note-taking app, puts the registrant at ease by being pretty bold with its email address field (see more tips here). Whilst ‘never shared’ might be taken for granted by good marketers when asking for email addresses, the user is less than sure.

Of course, one has to make sure this message sits well with other fields. If you also ask users if third parties can get in touch, then this might conflict with the ‘never shared’ message.

Overall though, it’s great to re-assure users like this, as long as you back it up with action.

neevr shared email fields

via https://www.flickr.com/photos/greenbird_ontree/

Lots of best practice from Basecamp

basecamp signup

Easy to remember, hard to guess

As much inventive prompting as possible to get users to set a secure password is worthwhile, especially if you can do it like this, without interrupting the UX.

No credit card required

Possibly the most important four words for companies offering a truly free trial. There is no psychological barrier, especially in B2C, as big as thinking a company is going to charge you ad-hoc, or that you’ll forget and be silently charged.

Last week X [customers] signed up with us

Arguably not microcopy, but the subtlety, confidence and transparency in a statement like this is what microcopy is all about. It does no harm to a sign-up page to give the impression of recency by pulling in numbers like this.

These pages are often so static and boring that a statement like this (and a funky illustration – see Vine below) really perks things up.

(more field and form design tips here)

You can change this whenever

Brilliant from Tumblr. If there’s one way to increase the number of blogs created on their platform it’s to put the user at ease and inculcate them from day one with the spirit of free experimentation.

tumblr microcopy

Ben Davis

Published 4 June, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)


Janaki Pendyala

I feel most of these are very much relevant our portal....though we know the importance of such small things..it needs little convincing before we implement them:)

about 4 years ago


Kirsty Cooke

Love a good bit of microcopy!

Seems to me like there's basically two types of brilliance:

1. Microcopy that helps check off your 'six principles of persuasion' and neatly pushes people down the conversion funnel.
2. Microcopy that simply makes your site fun to use and memorable... and fun to work on. (I imagine many designers/developers/copywriter are basically hiding easter eggs in these nooks and crannies. I know I would.)


about 4 years ago

Joe Bolger

Joe Bolger, Director at Intellexo

Some great examples here. The Guardian also does this particularly well: https://register.theguardian.com/media/register/

over 3 years ago

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