Microcopy. Not a word that rocks the headlines every day – and you’d be forgiven for thinking that SENSE’s 22 November 2023 webinar was going to focus on small print. You know, that legal abracadabra that many of us are all too happy to ignore. As it turned out, the evening centred on those tiny texts we all need and read, but as translators and copywriters, perhaps don’t always give enough thought.
Some 30 attendees had responded to Utrecht SIG convener Jenny Zonneveld’s invitation to hear a talk by Elina IIaria Nocera, Italian-English marketing translator, web copywriter and microcopy expert.
Under the banner ‘Microcopy: snippets of text have a huge impact’, Elina shared her wisdom on the importance of those small messages that help us navigate the internet and complete our online actions correctly. Also known as UX text – where UX is short for User eXperience – you find microcopy on buttons, tooltips, placeholders, confirmation messages and more.
The purpose of microcopy is to motivate and guide the user, and to give feedback on the actions performed. Since these are primarily functional messages, they used to be quite formal, up to the point of being robotic. And while even today many still are, Elina taught us that they are also well-suited for building and cementing a brand’s identity.
Microcopy, then, should be transcreated. The snippets offer a unique opportunity for a brand to forge relationships and build trust with existing and potential customers, while using its own, consistent voice. Indeed, it is a missed opportunity for any brand to not view UX text as marketing copy. It should be written and/or translated correspondingly, adapting the message to the audience.
Elina treated us to an avalanche of examples good and bad (the three images in this blog post are from her presentation, including the ones below from Asos and Mailchimp), along with advice on dos and don’ts. For example, did you know that confirmshaming* is not a good idea? That you don’t want to use these manipulinks*? And yes, for this type of content, clear and concise beats clever and snappy anytime. Good microcopy is human, polite and conversational. It is crystal clear, brief – but not telegraphic – inclusive, and consistent in wording and voice.
With a busy Zoom chat box running simultaneously, Elina guided us through the topic in a very pleasant and professional way, sharing insights and confirming her position as a microcopy expert. She offered ample room for participation and feedback, and a lively conversation followed afterwards. I have no doubt that, going forward, those who attended will give a lot more thought to these tiny texts, in the knowledge that they are just as important as the landing page.
*Confirmshaming: Guilting the user into something by wording the option to decline in such a way that it induces a feeling of shame or embarrassment. ‘No thanks, I’ll give that advantage to the competition.’ The actual link is called the manipulink.
This informative webinar/SIG meeting was accessible to members and non-members alike. In fact, many SENSE events are. Of course, there are many benefits to being a SENSE member, so you should definitely consider it! You can keep up with SENSE by following us on LinkedIn.
Blog post by: Kees Kranendonk