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🎤 Testing testing, boring boring, and less is bad 🙅🏽‍♂️ / UX Writing Summarized #11/2019

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I must tell you: you’re onto something.  You’re part of a rapidly growing crowd that is going to cha
 

UX Writing Summarized

October 29 · Issue #11 · View online
Every busy UX writer can save time reading this.

I must tell you: you’re onto something. 

You’re part of a rapidly growing crowd that is going to change the world of UX design forever. We use words to solve problems, reduce frustration and make money to fill our pockets. 🤑

And you know what? Everybody’s new at this.
Yes, everybody. No one is an expert yet. 
And UX writing is not just for writers. It’s a new muscle for everyone in the team to have. 💪💪💪💪💪
We’re in this together and we have a gigantic fish to fry. 🐡

Now, stay put and enjoy some brand-new condensed UX writing know-how
In a few minutes you will know:
  • How you can test your UX writing
  • Why the high road is dangerous
  • If less really is more (hint: it’s not) 😄


Testing for UX writers: know when your words are working
Here’s the thing:
How can UX writers measure how effective their words are? Answer: invite representative participants and do cloze testing, highlighter testing or a comprehension survey. Annie Adams, UX writer at Uber, takes you through a jungle of testing methods
The take-aways:
  1. Test your words on “participants representative of your actual users”. Don’t settle with people from marketing department or engineers walking down the hallway. Why not? Well, they all brings company-specific assumptions and knowledge (sorry!). 🤷‍♂️
  2. A cloze test figures out if people understand what you’ve written. Give them a text with every Nth word with blanks. In most cases, N = 6, but must be much smaller when it comes to microcopy. Which words are missing? Tell people to fill in the blanks with their best guesses. Also synonyms and misspellings are allowed, and a percentage of correctly guessed words over 60% = 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
  3. A highlighter test makes it clear which words (for instance) make people feel more confident, and which words make them feel less confident. Hand them a green and a red highlighter pen. The colors will tell you what works great, and what you might want to rewrite. ✅ 🔴
Bonus:
Want to prove the value of your writing? Now you can. The great team at UX Writers Collective has this new self-paced online course for all data-driven UX writers. In the course “Content Research & Testing” you’ll learn how to gather data from the start, and what methods and techniques to use to test your copy. 
“We’ve updated our terms”: How to make the mundane remarkable
Here’s the thing:
Do you want people to notice your words and content? Then rise above the familiar, the mundane, the common, the ordinary. Be different. Steve Howe at Typeform shows you how to be remarkable in Black Friday emails, policy updates and login microcopy. ♣♣♣♣♣🎈
The take-aways:
  1. Your brain has an “attentional filter”. It protects you from anything irrelevant. Think about it: you don’t remember much from your daily drive to work, do you? BUT … that same filter has a “change detector”. When the road’s surface suddenly switches from smooth to rough asphalt, you’ll notice it, right? So … how can we change the surface of the road when you write? 🚙
  2. People don’t really care about policy updates. The people at Typeform knows this. That’s why they choose the email subject line “We updated our terms. Cue gasps of excitement.” 😂 They also let people choose between the legal, jargon-stuffed version, and the plain English version.
  3. Would you enjoy your words and content? Be remarkable and say things in a natural way. For instance, the login headline at Typeform doesn’t say “Log in”. Instead, it says “Hello, who’s this”? ⬇
The quote: 
“Repeated messages become familiar, so they get blocked by the attentional filter. As writers, how do we get past the filter?” 🤔
Less is not always more - Prototypr
Here’s the thing: 
Is less more? Nope, says UX writer Yael Ben-David. Concise is good, but the message falls short if it does not do the job: to get people from point A to point B. You cause frustration and waste even more of people’s time when your words are few but leave too much to guesswork. Remember: people do read, we have a job to do, and our words must meet people where they are in their journey. ✈️

The take-aways:
  1. People don’t read – true or false? False! People have come to 1) Get something done, and therefore they’ll 2) Read as much as they need to get that something done. Don’t distract them with your “masterfully crafted poetry”. 
  2. Words build relationships. Do you trust someone who always answers your question with one syllable? Probably not. We are all emotional, social creatures; we need to connect and communicate with each other, not necessarily with brevity.
  3. Someone on the street asks you for directions. What do you do? You give them just enough information. Not too much, and not too little. “ Next soon” sure is shorter than “make a left at the next corner”, but the latter is way more helpful. (this example is taken from the book Conversational Design by Erika Hall)

The quote: 
“Let’s not forget why we write microcopy in the first place. It’s not to decorate the screen. We are designing the user experience with the words that tell the user what they’re about to get, how to get it, and why they should get it from us.”
4 more things
Voice interfaces are the next big thing. How do you create the best voice UX? How do you use voice technology to bring value? All that, and more, seems to be the topic for the Udemy online course, “Practical Voice Strategy & Design” (launched less than a week ago). Sina Kahen and Adi Mazor Kario will be your teachers.
This seems like a no-brainer to dive into. Especially since the special promo code HALLOWEEN19 gives you 30 % off (until November 26, 2019).
***
During October, I’ve met 500 UX people all over Sweden to talk about how words can help save the world. What a journey it’s been! And it’s just the beginning, mark my words. Here are people’s biggest take-aways from my talks:

  • Words can really help people, and make you sell more. Don’t make people think! 🚀
  • Error messages are all about telling people how to do things right.
  • C is the most important letter in UX writing; it better be clear, concise, constructive, conversational and consistent ( = you need a voice and tone manual). 🗣
  • Start a conversation, and ask questions. Netflix says “Who’s watching?”, not “Pick a viewer profile”.
  • Copywriting is selling with words – UX writing is guiding with words. ⬇

Next up: I’m releasing a concise e-book on UX writing in early November. And, by the end of the year, will also kick off a hands-on training program with lots of feedback for a chosen few . Stay tuned for details.
***
Earlier this fall, Andrew Schmidt from Slack spoke at the Design Matters conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Now you can see his talk “Designing like a writer: how language can elevate your work”, and learn how words can take the lead in the design process. Andrew says many wise things, and here’s 3 of them: 

  • It’s not hard to write good UI copy. If you’re struggling, there’s a bigger problem. 🧐
  • Only give things a name if you have to. Describe them instead. Don’t go Google Wave. 😂
  • Never try to MAKE the user feel. Instead, look for the feelings they’re already having, and be a part of those. 👈👏👏


***
The voice of ride-sharing service Lyft is no more genuine and unique than any other modern tech company: “we are authentic, smart, and informative” (zzzz) but their brand manifesto is a work of word art.
Who’s writing?
I am.
I am The Swedish UX Writer.
I was born on a warm summer’s day in 1982. My parents, Annica and Bengt, named me Mattias. I grew up in idyllic Sävedalen outside Göteborg, Sweden (where I still live).
As a child, I was equal parts anxious and curious. I found words to be great companions in life. Right now, my life is great, and our kids Elis and Ilse are the best thing that has ever happened to me, or ever will. 💕
For 10 years, I’ve been running “a company of one” (as Paul Jarvis coined the phrase), serving companies, big and small, with copywriting and UX writing that make a difference. I enjoy the freedom, the independence and all the opportunities. Words are still my best friends.


Thank you for reading. 
Next!
The next issue will be out on November 26, 2019
Can’t get enough? You can always read all kick-ass issues of UX Writing Summarized.
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