No matter how small, or minute a design element is, it can play an important role in the integrity of a design. From small graphical elements that add those extra details to a visual story, or microinteractions that guide a user along their journey, small powerful details make a huge impact. When it comes to the contextual story building of an interface, content copy has its own detailed design known as microcopy. 

Microcopy is the short, succinct morsels of information found throughout a design that, much like microinteractions, guide users along an interface, microcopy aims to achieve the same, except by utilizing syntax. 

Microcopy is Everywhere

The chances that you have encountered microcopy on a website or mobile application are high, as it is found throughout websites and digital interfaces. Some examples in which this layer of content writing can be found include: 

Call-to-actions (CTA)

-Contact form labels

-Sub-headers 

-404 pages and error messages

-Loading screen text

Infographic about You will read this first.

Microcopy is not randomly incorporated without rhyme or reason, instead, these mini content powerhouses are targeted and purposefully placed. They are intentionally utilized to fulfill a purpose, such as guiding a user for an enjoyable user experience by providing context to action, clearing up the cloud of cognitive friction, or encouraging conversions in CTAs. Microcopy is also great because it is a small detail that shows your users that your design team took the time to ensure their experience is prioritized by helping them along the way.

Like any component of a design, microcopy should be just as carefully and purposefully embedded into a design system, interface, or even within marketing collateral. To truly create micro-content that is impactful, it should be crafted with the following attributes:

Infographic about Microcopy

Align with Established Tonality

It is no secret that to propel consistency, all elements—from graphical to textual— should feel as if one collective, consistent interface, and microcopy is no exception. When including your microcopy, it is important to keep it authentic to the voice and tonality of your overall design and body text. Although these text bites are brief, if they do not align with the tone, it will be an obvious, and noticeable shift to your users.

More examples of microcopy on the web page

Make It Purposeful

Within the larger body of content throughout a website, or digital interface, the purpose of the design—a company brand/product, an organization’s mission, or service—should have been already clearly established, thus, microcopy should be short and sweet. Although concise and ranging from about one to two sentences long, microcopy can oftentimes be tricky because content writers must fold in purposeful, and guiding cues in such a succinct space. It is best for this rendition of content to be as clear as possible when guiding a user as they interact with a design or encourage a conversion.

Person on computer reading website

Anticipate User Questions

Microcopy is productive because it anticipates user questions by offering clarity. For example, say a user required additional help and wanted to speak to a team member, notice the difference between: 

Do you have questions? Click here

The ambiguity of this statement indicates that a user with questions should press a link, yet it does not clarify where the link is taking the user, if that link will lead to a representative, or what the possible solution will be. Now with some clarity, it can better reflect an outcome such as:

You have the questions; we have the answers. Reach out to one of our team members here

The second iteration offers the same solution, but with a clear approach. It informs the user what this interaction will result in (contacting a team representative) while also offering a creative, inviting tone. It also anticipates the user’s questioning of how this interaction will function, simply by adding extra, purposeful details.

Building an interface’s contextual story with content writing functions as the voice in the anatomy of a design, and microcopy is just as prominent in the overall structure.