UX Writing: Direct is Best
If you ever worked in an agency like I do, then you know that you have to work well with people with different skill sets. Working along side talented copywriters will make your job easier as they create useful content, but it is incumbent upon UX designers to make the user paramount. It is our duty as to make sure that the copy they are producing takes the user into account. Good copy is important to user experience especially for navigation and for call to actions.
Navigation is the most fundamental UX elements on a website or app. Good navigation has to have sound structure and clear copy.
After auditing a client’s website, it was clear that locating the right content wasn’t intuitive. So I created a more clear solution to the problem and conducted user testing to validate my assumptions. However, during user testing, I also found that the labeling on the navigation was confusing. So when asked to locate certain types of content, the users were confused because the copy was not clear.
I kept hearing from users that they wanted more direct language. They wanted the obvious, and this is very inline with basic UX principles. We know from “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug that users don’t want to fish for information. With very limited attention span, they want to get to the right content — so don’t make it hard on them.
Working in an agency presents a challenge as copywriters are akin to write more flowery language but in reality, you need to keep it simple and direct.
Call to Actions
Any icon, button, or call to action needs to have a clear directive. Don’t expect the user to know your intent. Give them clear direction to where you’re taking them. When designing for the web especially, use the real estate to describe with intention the action you want the user to take.
For instance, the plus sign icon could signify many things to different people. The user may know that there is more, but they don’t know what that “more” is.
While conducting user testing for an iPad sales application for a new drug, I discovered that users preferred that icons be labeled and that those labels be specific to the action they should take. Creating an experience on the iPad was a challenge as the limited real estate forced us to create deeper dives into content, and thus we need to use calls to action to signify additional content on the screen.
I created an A/B test with a version that just stated “learn more” next to the icon. The second version had the label “dosing” for example, and the sales reps had a much more positive reaction to the second version. Thus, we have formally adopted the direct labeling with icons.
Whenever possible use direct and concise language to label call to actions.
Consistently I have found that users want labels that are direct and to the point. They don’t want to guess what is going to happen when they click on the navigation or call to actions. They want to know where they are headed and what is on the other side of that interaction. Don’t make the user do the guess work; be clear, be concise, be direct. Direct users to their intended destination with ease.