The devil is in the detail, or so they say.

When it comes to creating a great user experience, this certainly seems to be the case. From slick pop-ups to real-time social proof – there are many features that can help create user flow.

Microcopy is another important element. This refers to the text that guides you along or instructs you to do something on a website or app, such as fill in a form. It can also be a mini call-to-action, e.g. a prompt for you to click a button.

So, what makes good microcopy and why is it so important? Here are 15 mega examples.

(But before we start, a note that Econsultancy now runs a Marketing Copy and Behavioural Economics training course - get stuck in!)

Airbnb's search prompt

Let's kick things off with Airbnb's simple but effective search bar.

Many users probably fail to even register what it says, but that’s the whole point. Short and simple - it subtly prompts users to start searching and see what they find.

Muzzle's cheeky Lorum Ipsum

Muzzle has a single page website to explain its product – an app that stops potentially embarrassing notifications from popping up on your screen. 

It’s a lovely little site, full of delightful details (like the below example notifications) and very cheeky copy.

I particularly like how the text at the bottom of the page promtoes related products and services, all-depending on whether or not the user can or cannot build websites.  

Grammarly's smart call to action

Unsurprisingly given the nature of its product, Grammarly uses concise and descriptive homepage copy to guide users along. 

It could have easily kept its button at ‘Add to Chrome’, however, the extra ‘It’s free’ immediately reassures and creates urgency. 

Dollar Shave Club's hidden humour

Microcopy provides brands with further opportunities to convey personality. Dollar Shave Club, which is known for its sarcastic and humorous tone of voice, adds extra bullet-points to product descriptions purely for entertainment purposes.

Do people really bother to read the small print? Well, if they happen to do so, this kind of copy is sure to stick in their minds ("This blade comes from the future and lives in outer space")

dollar shave club

eHarmony's touchy feely 404

eHarmony takes the opportunity to adds personality and tone into its error page, reinforcing its promise to users looking for love.

The calls-to-action also lessen the chances of users abandoning the site, giving them an option to either sign-up or log-in.

Reformation's conscientious copy

Reformation is another brand that uses microcopy to educate users, this time pointing them towards its stance on sustainability and the environment. Note the fun and light-hearted tone of its product description and garment care too.

Elsewhere, the retailer uses friendly and engaging text on its homepage, using ‘we’ and ‘you’ to highlight the relationship between brand and consumer.

Modcloth's reassuring tooltip

Long and confusing checkouts can lead to basket abandonment, which is why it's so important to include copy to help combat this.

Modcloth asks for a phone number as part of its form, but instead of leaving it there, it takes the opportunity to reassure customers that it’s for their own benefit. The tooltip is also slick, taking away the need for any intrusive pop-ups or to veer away from the page.

Yelp's trustworthy credentials

Microcopy can also be used to anticipate customer concerns, often by highlighting further information such as privacy or data policies. While Yelp is a rather busy website in appearance, it still finds the space to point users towards its advertising policy. 

However, the microcopy means that users probably won’t feel the need to click through – it convincingly states that there are no dodgy reviews allowed on its site.  

Elsewhere on Yelp, I also like the microcopy that brings to life its star rating system, beginning with ‘Eek! Methinks not!’ for one star and ending with ‘Woohoo! As good as it gets!’ for five.

WeTransfer's amusing FAQs

FAQ and help sections tend to be awash with copy. This means that brands often run the risk of over-complicating things or coming across as supremely dull. WeTransfer does the opposite on both accounts, infusing an amusing and ironic tone into its example FAQ’s.

In addition, it cleverly conveys that social channels are there to help with customer service queries.

Wonderbly's pared down FAQs

Wonderbly’s help section is also pleasingly pared down, simply urging people to search for keywords or ask entire questions if they’d like.

Below, instead of confronting users with example questions, it uses categories like ‘our products or ‘printing and delivery’, showing that good FAQs can be intuitive.

Slackbot (microcopy personified)

Slack shows how to personify microcopy with the help of Slackbot – the app’s friendly guide. 

Instead of leaving the user to their own devices, it lets you know just how easy and helpful Slackbot can be. The bold copy grabs the user’s attention, while the emphasis on being ‘only a bot’ promotes transparency. 

Timely's password advice

There’s nothing more frustrating than entering a new password, only to find you need a more specific combination of symbols and numbers.

Timely, a productivity-tracking app, immediately lets users know what the score is with its informative microcopy. 

Its trial sign-up form also effectively emphasises that there are no traps, with copy stressing its ‘no credit card no nonsense’ policy. 

MailChimp

MailChimp also gives users extra tips on how to create a password, this time using a real-time component. 

As the user enters a new password, the bold bullet-points are greyed out as each required element is completed (i.e. one uppercase or one special character). This is extremely helpful and yet subtle at the same time.

Github

Error pages are frustrating enough, but never more so than when they’re dead-ends.

Github effectively uses microcopy to prompt users forward, telling them to try refreshing the page or to contact support. The small icon sends users back to the homepage, which is also good, but it could do with some accompanying text as it’s pretty easy to miss.

Firebox's H1 tag

Finally, Firebox even infuses personality into its H1 tag, showing that it takes microcopy a lot more seriously than most brands.

Elsewhere, Firebox jumps on any opportunity to be creative with text, here asking customers whether they want their item wrapped in its own unique style.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 7 March, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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