Five Simple Steps

The Craft of Words. Part two: Microcopy

By The Standardistas

The second book examining the craft of words, this time exploring how words can enhance interfaces for both function and delight.

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About this book

Almost every interaction you make, through a website or application, involves words. Words can help, words can hinder. They can ease a user on their journey or they can get in the way, causing frustration. Given their power, it’s no surprise to discover that companies like 37signals and MailChimp, to name but two, position words at the heart of their design process.

In this, the second part of The Craft of Words, The Standardistas explore the craft of words at a micro level, considering how microcopy can satisfy functional requirements by aiding and improving design interactions, enhancing interfaces for both function and delight, and helping users get things done.

Who should read this book?

If you're a designer working at the coalface, helping to create and shape interfaces, this book is for you. The principles we cover will help you craft better, more effective interfaces that help your users get the task at hand completed, improving conversions and generally making the world a better place.

Topics include:

Part 1: Words can help, words can hinder

Use the right words and we can ease a user along on their journey (we can even delight and entertain them). Use the wrong words, however, and we can stop a user dead in their tracks. Words are an often overlooked part of the design vocabulary, choose them wisely and your users will thank you.

Part 2: Enabling interactions

Carefully crafted microcopy ensures our web sites or applications work better, improves conversion rates and enables users to fulfil tasks. In this section we show how microcopy can, and should, ease the user’s flow, helping them get things done.

Part 3: Design and Content

Sadly things go wrong from time to time. When they do, carefully considered language – language which puts people first – is more important than ever. In this section we explore how language can be used to empathise with users, offering them a sense that we care about them and the predicaments they’re facing.

Part 4: Afternoon delight

Once we get the functional basics down, we can start to focus on delighting our users. In this section we explore ‘delighters’, those small but important fragments of copy that add a little pleasure to your user’s day and bring a smile to their faces.

Part 5: The power of words

Words are a powerful, yet often overlooked part of the design process. In our final section, we introduce a number of practical suggestions that you can incorporate into your workflow to ensure that words become a core part of the design process. The result? Happiness, and better outcomes, all round.

About The Standardistas

Christopher Murphy and Nicklas Persson teach interactive design at the University of Ulster, Belfast, where they have been active in promoting a design-focused, web standards-based curriculum for over a decade. As tweed-clad duo The Standardistas they write and speak regularly on standards-based web design and the importance of improving web design education. Authors of the seminal beginner’s guide HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions – A Web Standardistas’ Approach, they’ve written for a variety of publications, including The Manual, 24 ways, and .net magazine.

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