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Clever Copy for Happy Users STC Summit 2015

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Identify user experience roadblocks and create the copy you need to solve common UX problems. With a focus on plain language, learn how testing your words and maintaining consistent standards helps you be found, stay optimized, and say what you mean. In this session, we will review real-world techniques for usable, engaging communication. This is not about dumbing down our words: learn the copy hacks to satisfy your audience.

Presented at #stc15

Published in: Design
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Clever Copy for Happy Users STC Summit 2015

  1. 1. Clever Copy for Happy Users Lauren T. G. Colton STC Summit | 6.23.2015
  2. 2. Let’s Talk Key Points 1. Words shape the user experience. 2. Keep testing, keep improving. 3. Our messages are a starting point. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  3. 3. Let’s Talk Our Glossary: Clever: being skillful enough to impact others. Happy: going beyond “satisfactory” experiences. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  4. 4. Let’s Talk When do words matter? Project Management Search Engine Optimization Information Architecture Content Strategy Accessibility Usability STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  5. 5. Intentional Measured Consistent Know your intent, your target users, and clearly address the distance between you. Balance quantitative and qualitative usability testing with both art and science. Govern standards and responsibility across a project, and get ready to change. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  6. 6. “The web does not just connect machines, it connects people.” Tim Berners-Lee STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  7. 7. Intentional Aware Who are you? Where do you come from? …geographic, social? Where do you want to go next? …large user base, localization? STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  8. 8. Intentional Aware Who are you? Students who wanted to leave the community after graduation were less likely to present the regional dialect. Ito & Preston, 1998 STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  9. 9. Intentional Aware Who are you? Brand Biography • Expert but not bossy (MailChimp) • Unconventional (Mozilla) • Tenacious (msu.edu) STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  10. 10. Intentional Aware Who are target users? Where do they come from? …linguistic, socioeconomic? Where do they want to go next? …ambitions, affiliations? STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  11. 11. Intentional Aware Who are target users? The same users were likely to have individualistic tendencies on Facebook, and collectivistic tendencies on Renren. Qiu, 2014 STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  12. 12. Intentional Aware Who are target users? Who is P1? Title: Returning users, experienced Rank: 2 Description: 25-40 years old, with high level of technical literacy. Completing work-related tasks. Goal: Open personalized dashboard. Message: Your day is about to get easier. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  13. 13. Intentional Aware Who are target users? Limerence The ego projecting Self onto Other, or seeing beauty in what is familiar. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  14. 14. Intentional Bridging the gaps “…the structural integrity of meaning across contexts.” Jorge Arango Contextual STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  15. 15. Intentional Bridging the gaps Cognitive Load The mental effort to comprehend and use a tool or information, whatever the task complexity or structure. Contextual STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  16. 16. Intentional Bridging the gaps Cognitive Load Balancing emotional, visceral information with linguistic information. Contextual STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  17. 17. Intentional Bridging the gaps Cognitive Load Rely on user intuition more than working memory: • Use expected vocabulary and structure. • Offer scannable, categorized copy. • Make available actions apparent. Contextual STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  18. 18. Intentional Contextual Bridging the gaps Who speaks, about what topic, and in what style? Language determines the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  19. 19. Intentional Bridging the gaps Are you willing to bridge that gap? Strategy: is this a conversation you want to have? Style Guide: is this a conversation you can have? Contextual STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  20. 20. Intentional Bridging the gaps See https://www.crystalknows.com/ Contextual STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  21. 21. Intentional Straightforward Plain Language Language that is easy to read, use, and understand on the first encounter. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  22. 22. Intentional Straightforward Avoid jargon Are these your words, or the words of your audience? • Unnecessarily-technical terms • Legalese • Marketing copy fads STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  23. 23. Intentional Straightforward Avoid jargon Have alternate terms for important ideas. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  24. 24. Intentional Straightforward Give common words common meaning Use the words of your audience if you can, and define industry terms when you can’t. • Check out your competition. • Search Google Trends. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  25. 25. Intentional Straightforward Give common words common meaning
  26. 26. Intentional Straightforward Give common words common meaning STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  27. 27. Intentional Straightforward Give common words common meaning Use the words of your audience if you can, and define industry terms when you can’t. • Check out your competition. • Search Google Trends. • Maintain a project style guide. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  28. 28. Intentional Straightforward Be precise Remove unnecessary words for more- direct copy. Show just enough: • Can this be hidden until expanded? • Can this be accessed by a search or filter? STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  29. 29. Intentional Straightforward Be precise Most important message at the top. Short sentences: try for less than 15 words. Short paragraphs: try for less than 5 sentences. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  30. 30. Intentional Straightforward Promote descriptions, demote exceptions Put the main idea first. 1. Verb 2. Descriptor 3. Noun 4. Exception STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  31. 31. Intentional Straightforward Don’t hide the verbs Stop hiding your intended meaning behind passive copy. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  32. 32. Intentional Straightforward Be actionable Lead with a familiar verb, and be specific. • After selection, where will users land? • What benefit do they get out of this action? STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  33. 33. Intentional Straightforward Be actionable What is the primary call to action? Web: within 400px of top. Mobile: on screen without scroll. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  34. 34. Intentional Straightforward Use visual aides Text does not live in a vacuum. The format shapes user perception. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  35. 35. Intentional Straightforward Use visual aides The most-important information should draw the most attention. Larger text Intense color Increased contrast Bullets and arrows Proximity Density Normal sentence case Headings STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  36. 36. Intentional Straightforward Know which grammar rules matter Grammar is for the sake of clarity; words should flow as naturally as spoken language. • You can start sentences with “but” as well as end on prepositions. • You can be right, and still be wrong. • Sometimes an oxford comma changes everything. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  37. 37. Intentional Straightforward The oxford comma can change everything. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  38. 38. Intentional Remember: Be aware of your goals and your users. Work with the contextual gaps. Use straightforward communication. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  39. 39. “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.” Ronald Coase STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  40. 40. Ask both “how?” and “why?” Measured Balanced Quantitative: data on “how” users to build inferences. Qualitative: understand “why” with valuable observations. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  41. 41. Ask both “what?” and “why?” Measured Balanced Art: Adapting heuristics to goals and context in fresh ways. Science: Testing and iterating with defined questions and processes. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  42. 42. Ask both internally and externally Measured Balanced Thought experiments: question yourself and your internal team. Scientific experiments: test and measure the target users. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  43. 43. Measured Experimental Parking Lot Test Would a target user stand in a parking lot, delaying their commute home to hear this message? Qualitative | Internal | Interesting STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  44. 44. Measured Experimental 1. Image 3 users, not 100. 2. Is this message informational, actionable, or entertaining? 3. Do they care? Parking Lot Test Qualitative | Internal | Interesting STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  45. 45. Measured Experimental Do you want to hear how to spend three less minutes a year on car insurance? Parking Lot Test Qualitative | Internal | Interesting STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  46. 46. Measured Experimental The Mom Test If your mother heard you say this, would she call shenanigans? Qualitative | Internal | Genuine STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  47. 47. Measured Experimental 1. Pick someone who knows you as a person, and is honest with you. 2. Add “Dear [Mom]” to the beginning. 3. Would they laugh in your face? The Mom Test Qualitative | Internal | Genuine STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  48. 48. Measured Experimental This innovative app will disrupt the dog- owning community by leveraging a streamlined, scalable platform. The Mom Test Qualitative | Internal | Genuine STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  49. 49. Measured Experimental Flesch Reading Ease How much education and concentration does a user need to understand and act on this text? Quantitative | Internal | Understandability STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  50. 50. Measured Experimental Flesch Reading Ease Quantitative | Internal | Understandability Score Easily understood by the average… 90.0–100.0 11 year old (very easy) 60.0–70.0 High school student (standard) 30.0–50.0 College graduate (difficult) 0.0–29.9 Advanced degree graduate (very confusing) STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  51. 51. Measured Experimental Flesch Reading Ease Quantitative | Internal | Understandability “Jump high and hard with intention and heart…take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.” Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things Score: 94.3 STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  52. 52. Measured Experimental Pair Storytelling Can the target user easily and accurately summarize this passage? Qualitative | External | Clear STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  53. 53. Measured Experimental 1. Ask users to read at least one paragraph of copy out loud. 2. Note where they stumble. 3. Ask them to summarize with a single sentence. Pair Storytelling Qualitative | External | Clear STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  54. 54. Measured Experimental Pair Storytelling Qualitative | External | Clear DESDEMONA Be thou assured, good Cassio, I will do All my abilities in thy behalf. DESDEMONA I’ll try my best, Cassio. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  55. 55. Measured Cloze Deletion Test When shown an incomplete message, do users fill the blanks with the same terms? Quantitative | External | Vocabulary Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  56. 56. Measured 1. For 125–300 words of text, replace every fifth word with a blank space. 2. Ask users to fill in the blanks. 3. Divide matches by number of blanks, and look for a score of more than 60%. Cloze Deletion Test Quantitative | External | Vocabulary Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  57. 57. Measured Want _____ experts on your bookshelf? _____ Works is sharing our _____ app tips and tricks _____ the book, Professional _____ Application Development. We deliver _____, personalized, powerful mobile _____ for our clients, and we’re _____ our secrets. Cloze Deletion Test Quantitative | External | Vocabulary Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  58. 58. Measured Reverse Card Sorting Without page content or interface, can users anticipate which page in a menu helps them complete a task? Quantitative | External | Categorization Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  59. 59. Measured Experimental 1. Present a menu structure and task. 2. Track selection, and backtracking. 3. Did groupings and naming conventions confuse people? Reverse Card Sorting Quantitative | External | Categorization STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  60. 60. Measured See https://www.optimalworkshop.com/treejack-demo Reverse Card Sorting Quantitative | External | Categorization Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  61. 61. Measured See https://www.optimalworkshop.com/treejack-demo Reverse Card Sorting Quantitative | External | Categorization Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  62. 62. Measured Heatmapping Do user expectations and anticipated conventions match the expectations and conventions of your team? Quantitative | External | Expectations Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  63. 63. Measured 1. Present copy within a wireframe, mockup, or screenshot; give a task. 2. Ask users where they would click next. 3. Did user expectations match yours? Heatmapping Quantitative | External | Expectations Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  64. 64. Measured See https://www.optimalworkshop.com/chalkmark-demo Heatmapping Quantitative | External | Expectations Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  65. 65. Measured See https://www.optimalworkshop.com/chalkmark-demo Heatmapping Quantitative | External | Expectations Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  66. 66. Measured Five-Second Test What do users recall drawing their eye? Is it the action you want them to take? Quantitative | External | Actionable Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  67. 67. Measured 1. Show the interface with your copy for five seconds. 2. Ask what made an impression:  What does this page do?  Can you buy apples on this page?  What do you remember? Five-Second Test Quantitative | External | Actionable Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  68. 68. Measured See https://usabilityhub.com/tests/17a501e73ce7/results/a4e2757dbfbc Five-Second Test Quantitative | External | Actionable What does this page do? Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  69. 69. Measured See https://usabilityhub.com/tests/17a501e73ce7/results/a4e2757dbfbc Five-Second Test Quantitative | External | Actionable What does this page do? Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  70. 70. Measured Day-After Recall After reading a passage, was it “sticky” enough for users to remember the primary call to action? Qualitative | External | Memorable Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  71. 71. Measured 1. Show a passage of text. 2. Wait a day. 3. Ask them to summarize the point. Day-After Recall Qualitative | External | Memorable Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  72. 72. Measured Send a “can you read this” email, then drop by to ask about it the next day. Day-After Recall Qualitative | External | Memorable Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  73. 73. Measured A/B Testing When similar groups are presented alternate solutions, which guides them to meet your goals? Quantitative | External | Performance Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  74. 74. Measured 1. Divide testers into demographically- equivalent groups. 2. Show each group a different variation. 3. Do a task analysis. A/B Testing Quantitative | External | Performance Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  75. 75. Measured A/B Testing Quantitative | External | Performance Task A B Are you registered to vote? Speed: 10 sec. Accuracy: 78% Speed: 15 sec. Accuracy: 92% Where is your polling location? Speed: 12 sec. Accuracy: 85% Speed: 13 sec. Accuracy: 89% Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  76. 76. Measured Usability Magnitude Estimation How difficult do users expect a task to be; what is the difference between their pre- and post-task assessment? Qualitative | External | Functional Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  77. 77. Measured 1. Provide a task, ask how difficult they expect it to be. 2. Provide copy in interface; users talk through task completion. 3. Ask how difficult it was. Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15 Usability Magnitude Estimation Qualitative | External | Functional
  78. 78. Measured Usability Magnitude Estimation Qualitative | External | Functional Task Pre Post Delta Log into customer portal. 1 2 +1 Pay water bill. 3 3 0 Update payment information. 4 3 -1 Experimental STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  79. 79. Measured Remember: Ask both “how” and “why” users act. Question internally and externally. Balance science and art. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  80. 80. “...you broadcast your company’s dysfunction to the whole wide world…” Lisa Welchman STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  81. 81. Consistent Assigned Digital Governance Strategy: principals and performance objectives to pick a direction that leverages the market. Policy: guidance to manage organizational risk with what to do, and what not to do. Standards: the nature of all project aspects, such as editorial, production, and design. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  82. 82. Consistent Assigned Digital Governance What is in your digital inventory? Who touches each piece? …do things with purpose. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  83. 83. Consistent Adaptive Focus on Dialogue You do not have the last word. Every message is just a starting point. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  84. 84. Consistent Adaptive Get Ready for Change No one is sure where the market, or technology, will go next. Are people, informed, able to act, and entertained? STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  85. 85. Consistent Adaptive Get Ready for Change Use your insights to turn strategy and observations into next steps with a culture of adaptation. • Ask people what they think, and help them speak. • Thank people, and give recognition for input. • Don’t punish failure that helps us learn. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  86. 86. Consistent Adaptive Standardize Reevaluation If it’s not in the process, it won’t happen. • Who is accountable? • What is “success”? • Which users are top priority? • When should we ask again? STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  87. 87. Consistent Remember: Assign who is responsible, and for what. Work for dialogue. Make change part of the process. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  88. 88. References & Further Reading Brooks, David. The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (New York, NY: Random House), 2011. Colton, Lauren. “Mobile User Interface Design” in Professional Mobile Application Development (Indianapolis, IN: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012), 89–115. Crystal, https://www.crystalknows.com/. Deutscher, Guy. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages (New York, NY: Metropolitan Books), 2010. “Federal Plain Language Guidelines.” plainlanguage.gov (1 March 2011). www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/FederalPLGuidelines/FederalPLGuidelines.pdf. Garner, Bryan. HBR Guide to Better Business Writing (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing), 2012. Haverty, Marsha. "What We Mean by Meaning: New Structural Properties of IA.” Presentation at the Information Architecture Summit, Minneapolis, MN, April 22–26, 2015. Hay, Steph. “Being Real Builds Trust.” A List Apart (28 August 2012). http://alistapart.com/article/being-real- builds-trust. Heath, Chip. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (New York, NY: Random House), 2007. Hinton, Andrew. Understanding Context (Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.), 2015. Ito, Rika & Dennis R. Preston. 1998. Identity, discourse, & language variation. Journal of Language & Social Psychology 17, 4:465–83. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  89. 89. Optimal Workshop, https://www.optimalworkshop.com/. Qiu, Lin, Han Lin, & Angela K.-y. Leung. 2014. Cultural Differences and Switching of In-Group Sharing Behavior Between an American (Facebook) and a Chinese (Renren) Social Networking Site. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 44, 1: 106–121. Spool, Jared. "Is Design Metrically Opposed?" Presentation at the Information Architecture Summit, Minneapolis, MN, April 22–26, 2015. UsabilityHub, https://usabilityhub.com/. Wachter-Boettcher, Sarah. Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content (New York, NY: Rosenfeld Media), 2012. Welchman, Lisa. Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design (New York, NY: Rosenfeld Media), 2015. Whitenton, Kathryn. “Minimize Cognitive Load to Maximize Usability.” Nielsen Norman Group (22 December 2013). http://www.nngroup.com/articles/minimize-cognitive-load/. Wiebe, Joanna. CopyHackers Book 2: Formatting & the Essentials of Web Writing (Victoria, BC: Copyhackers), 2011. Wiebe, Joanna. CopyHackers Book 4: Buttons & Click-Worthy Calls to Action (Victoria, BC: Copyhackers), 2011. Zeratsky, John. “5 principles for great interface copywriting.” Google Ventures (18 February 2014). https://www.gv.com/lib/5-principles-for-great-interface-copywriting. References & Further Reading STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15
  90. 90. Questions? @LaurenTGC Key Points 1. Words shape the user experience. 2. Keep testing, keep improving. 3. Our messages are a starting point. STC Summit | 6.23.2015 @LaurenTGC #stc15

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