You probably know what copywriting is, and certainly, you use it in your e-commerce business. However, have you ever heard the term UX writing? It is a much less common content creation technique that is fundamental to sales success. Every consumer who buys online has encountered UX writing, although few are aware of it. In our article, we explain what exactly UX writing is and its function in e-commerce.
What is UX writing?
The simplest definition of UX writing is designing and creating content that makes it easier for the user to use a website or application. In other words, a UX writer simplifies what is obvious e.g., to a designer or website/shop owner but can be potentially complicated or incomprehensible to a customer.
UX writing is writing content with the user in mind and for the purpose of efficient website navigation.
Do you think that as a customer of an online store you would like to undergo a data validation process? Of course not. Instead, it sounds much friendlier to create an account in the store. And it is exactly what the UX writer’s job is about: to simplify what is incomprehensible and to make messages that might scare off shoppers more attractive.
Benefits of UX writing
First and foremost, good UX writing supports sales and conversions. With UX writing, on the one hand, you motivate the user to read the offer, and on the other hand, you lead him or her step by step towards the shopping cart. You do not force anything, you do not use infantile persuasive techniques, but you simply remove all obstacles on the way to finalize the transaction. Simple, understandable, appealing communication builds trust, making the customer feel safer.
Introduction to creating content in line with the principles of UX writing
Before you develop any text for a sales page, you should thoroughly understand the audience. You create a persona, i.e. a model person to whom you direct the content. The following facts need to be determined:
- the recipient’s knowledge,
- the recipient’s previous online shopping experience,
- problems the recipient may have encountered in previous purchases,
- the recipient’s expectations (what the purpose of his or her visit to the store’s site was, whether he or she wants to buy something quickly or to be inspired to shop),
- concerns that the recipient may have before making a purchase.
The first issue is particularly important. A common mistake made by e-commerce business owners is to create content… for themselves. What it meant here is that specialists write for specialists, although in fact the store is addressed to an individual customer who has no expertise in a particular topic.
The four pillars of UX writing
UX writing must be kept in mind when creating any content on the store’s website, even in case of the tiniest or seemingly insignificant elements, such as field descriptions in the contact form or phrases on CTA buttons.
The four most important rules for creating content focused on creating a positive user experience are as follows:
- Maximum conciseness – not to be confused with low information value of content! The idea here is to build sentences as short as possible while avoiding compound-complex ones.
- Coherence – not using different naming for the same elements placed on different subpages, e.g., “Add to favorites” and then “Add to wishlist”. A good practice is to reach for proven stylistic conventions, e.g., using the active voice with buttons, or using popular phrases “Add to cart”, “Buy”, “Learn more”, “Check the price list”, etc.
- Write as you speak – you can try saying the written text out loud. If it does not sound natural, it needs to be revised. The idea is to communicate with the customer exactly as a good salesperson would do in a retail store. The communication must be natural.
Creating a product page according to the principles of UX writing
A product page is a real challenge for a UX writer. When creating product descriptions, e-store owners too often focus on the sales aspect instead of considering whether the description really builds the customer’s trust in the store’s brand and dispels any doubts.
When designing product descriptions according to the principles of UX writing, one thing must always be remembered: the customer cannot quickly verify the information provided. Therefore, writing about “very high quality” is art for art’s sake – it tells the message recipient nothing (quality is relative). Instead, the focus should be on the details of the description, but always with an emphasis on making the content provided useful.
In our experience, a lot of problems in the e-commerce industry are generated by product specifications. A good solution is to provide it in the form of a table (in the feature-value layout) or of a list. Such a presentation will be clear and at the same time will allow you to avoid the effect of a description overwhelming with its content.
Obviously, SEO must not be forgotten. The current pattern in force is to make product descriptions as elaborate as possible, as this gives you more room to naturally weave in keywords. Fortunately, it is possible to reconcile the needs of SEO and UX writing. Here are some tips:
- When creating a longer product description, use content hierarchy headings (H1, H2, H3), which make the text more recipient-friendly.
- Mention the most important and compelling points in the headings and in the first paragraph (only 16% of users read online text word by word).
- Take care of the clarity of the text (numerous paragraphs or breaking the text into multiple lines will make the text clearer), also using elements that “enliven” the content (bold, italics, underlining) – all in moderation, of course.
An important tip is also to avoid highly specialized phrases that are not understandable to an average non-business user. It discourages the buyer from making the purchase and makes the customer nervous.
Checkout – how not to lose the customer at the final stage of the shopping process?
Abandoning the shopping cart very often occurs at the stage of registration and login, i.e. just before the transaction is finalized. Many users are afraid of sharing their data with e-shops or do not see the benefits of creating an account. Removing this barrier is possible with UX writing.
When creating content for checkout, you need to focus on the already-mentioned user concerns and address them. If making a purchase in your store requires registration (creating an account), the content must explain to the customer in an understandable way why it is worth doing so – such benefits as access to order history, the ability to track a shipment or receive a newsletter with special offers should be emphasized.
A very important term in the context of UX writing for checkout is microcopy. It is nothing more than creating short, suggestive, and useful messages that make it easier for the customer to complete the purchase. Microcopy is intended to solve the customers’ problems and dispel their doubts, showing them what they should do in a specific situation.
A description of the shopping process is an example of microcopy:
- Add the product to the shopping cart.
- Create an account with the store.
- Select a delivery method.
- Enter the shipping address.
- Pay the order in a convenient way.
Good UX writing makes the customer feel safe, know exactly what to do, and finalize the purchase smoothly. It also reduces the risk that somewhere along the way doubts will arise and the customer will leave the store’s website.
Microcopy is also successfully applied at the contact form level. Do not assume in advance that every customer can fill in all fields correctly. It is worth marking them appropriately but in an understandable way (“Name and surname”, “Size”, etc.).
E-shop customers repeatedly make various mistakes that prevent them from completing the purchase. A good example would be here an error in sending an order form. If it is because the customer forgot to enter his or her e-mail address, do not attack the buyer with the message “Authentication error!” or “Required field”; just use microcopy like “Enter your e-mail address in the firstname.lastname@example.org format.”
Good UX writing practice precludes blaming users for making a mistake. Instead of telling the customers that they did something wrong, show them what they should do to complete the process.
UX writing and copywriting
A copywriter creates content that is strictly sales-related, and his or her task is simple: to develop content that triggers a strong purchase need in the recipient. The text, on the other hand, does not necessarily have to be informative yet it absolutely needs to have marketing value.
UX writing focuses more on explaining things to the customer, removing barriers to purchase, creating an atmosphere of safety, and making the user feel comfortable on the site.
At the same time, a UX writer should work closely with a copywriter for consistency of the entire communication. A good practice, for example, is to develop a Content Style Guide, which is an instruction manual to write in a way that is consistent and understandable to the audience.
UX writing plays an extremely important function in e-commerce, having a substantial impact on sales results, but also on the perception of the store’s brand. Bringing the content, with its tiniest elements, to perfection may seem like an exaggeration, but judging from our experience, low conversion in an e-commerce store is very often caused by neglecting this area