Wednesday, 16 August 2017

How To Learn To Code Without Losing Your Mind

How To Learn To Code Without Losing Your Mind

Knowing how to program is one of the most valuable skills you can have in today’s world, regardless if you’re doing it for career purposes or for the sole reason of practicing your brain. Coding is just like any other language, so it can be troublesome for you if you’re just starting but once you get good at it – you’ll be able to write it without even thinking about it. Today, there are tons of books and resources that can teach you to code, but doing it without stress and negativity is the sole purpose of this guide. So if you’re looking to get positive about your coding skills, read on.

Choose Your Language

learn to code

For starters, you should decide on one coding language you’ll invest your time into learning. A simple fact that you should be aware of is that there are no best coding languages, but there are languages that are friendlier for beginners. Once you’ve wrapped your mind around one language and learned it, it’ll be fairly easy to pick up another one and learn it much quicker than the first one. Your choice of language also might depend on what you want to do with it – whether it’s software development for which you might want to pick up Java, or iOS app coding for which you’ll need Swift.

Whichever you choose, don’t jump on another until you’re confident that you’ve mastered it.

Figure Out a Learning Method That Works Best For You

There is no one recipe for learning to code, so you need to know what works best for you. It’s always good to have a primary method and supplement it with secondary ones. So for example, if you’re a good listener and want to learn from Youtube videos, you might want to supplement your knowledge with a book about coding. Here are some of the methods you can use to learn to program.

  • Online Coding Courses – some people just work best when they’re told what to do and checked upon regularly, so if you’re having problems with self-discipline signing up for a course like this might be a good idea, as you’ll get more motivated than by trying to go through it on your own.

There’s an abundance of these courses online, and some of them are even free. Just check the reviews before signing up, just to be sure.

  • Youtube videos – Today, you can learn just about anything just from watching various videos from the people already skilled at the craft. It’s a good and free way to learn to code, just as long as you can sit, watch and repeat all day long.
  • Books – even though it’s the old fashioned way, coding hasn’t changed much and all the books that cover it are still pretty much viable even today. They tend to cover the logic aspects of coding a bit better than watching the videos, so you might actually figure out why you’re doing something – which is extremely important. When it comes to coding, you want to avoid doing anything that you don’t understand, because once you are in front of the same problem again – you’ll just be stuck again.
  • Figure It Out Yourself – many of the best programmers out there are self-taught. They were presented with a problem and tried to bypass it, after which they moved on to a bigger problem. You should always be learning while doing it anyway, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to do it their own way – you might want to try to just manage your way through.

 

It’s important that you listen to yourself when it comes to choosing a method because only you know what style suits your needs.

Record Your Results

record your results

You must be aware by now that learning to code will be a long process, which is why it’s important to record everything that you’ve done. People often find themselves losing motivation because they can’t feel their progress. This is why you need to remind yourself from time to time just how far you’ve come when it comes to programming – and looking at your first lines of code will do just that, tell you how awesome you are right now. You may think this is a minor thing, but it’s actually extremely important to keep you motivated throughout the process.

Staying Motivated

stay motivated

Motivation is the key to learning just about anything and it’s imperative to know for what reasons you’re learning it. If your reason is that you want to make a career out of it, maybe you should take a step back and set yourself some lower goals for the beginning. Sure, making a career out of it can be your final goal, but for starters, you should just take one step at a time and try to learn as much as possible. Best motivation comes out of successfully completing objectives and that’s the main reason why you’ll want to start thinking small. If you just started out and want to code an AAA video game, you’ll fail miserably and give up. Take smaller steps, improve your skills, and one day you might just be a part of something like that.

Set Strict Deadlines and Respect Them

When it comes to coding, many beginners will just try to do a bunch of projects and drop-out in the middle in favor of another project. Trying things out is fine, as long as you finish everything you started. Do one project at a time and set yourself some deadlines. Imagine if you were already employed, you’d have a deadline for each of the projects you work on. And while deadlines can be a pain when you’re employed, they are a great thing to teach you some self-discipline, a skill you’ll need plenty of when it comes to programming. Not to mention that if you don’t finish your projects, you might miss out on some valuable knowledge you’ll need for other projects as well.

Read Error Messages

read error messages

While computer users quickly get away from error messages whenever they see them, programmers should actually read them because they contain valuable input that will help you fix the errors. A lot of times these messages will tell you exactly what’s wrong, so always take the time and read any new ones you run into. This is also a great practice for your problem-solving skills – you always need to know what the problem is before trying to fix it. Error messages aren’t your punishment, they are your friends and they are trying to help you do things the right way.

Socialize With Other Programmers

Having someone you can talk to about the code you’re trying to write can be invaluable. Just talking about programming can get you to think about it in a more positive light, so find a friend you can share your thoughts with. It will also help you to know that they’re struggling with certain problems as well, and if you’re able to help them – this will motivate you even further to keep at it. That’s why even companies like Webdel WordPress Developer Sydney encourage their employees to socialize with each other even outside of work.

The Right and the Wrong Approach

Beginners often try to copy parts of the code from another source while they’re trying to do random things in order to complete the project. This is bad, not because you’re copying the line of code, but because you won’t figure out what’s the purpose of it without doing it yourself. This will lead to gaps in your knowledge, and you’ll be likely to give up once you come to a problem that requires knowledge that you skipped on. Always take the time and analyze the problem at hand, and if you can’t come up with a solution – read about it and find out how and why. By doing this, you’ll make sure you understand everything that you’re doing, which in itself is invaluable when it comes to programming.

Play Games for Programmers

The fact is, no matter what you’re learning, there’s no better and quicker way to do it than through playing games. Same goes for coding, and you can use many of these games to practice your skills and get better at it.

  • CheckiO – a game you can play in your browser, it requires you to solve problems in JavaScript or Python in order to advance through the game.
  • CodeMonkey – this one’s mostly used for kids, but if you’re a beginner you can actually learn some code by playing this game.
  • Codewars – this isn’t really a game, more like collaborative challenge solving for programmers. It’s a great way to master the art and it supports many of the languages.
  • Code Combat – A community-based platform, it’s all about learning how to code while playing through a real game.

There are many other games that you can use, it all depends on which ones suit you and your preferred language best. Playing these games will help you start thinking like a programmer and you’ll be able to practice your brain all while keeping yourself entertained.

Find a Mentor

Having a mentor is a great way to pick up on their way of thinking and replicate it, but only through understanding. Contrary to the popular belief, coding is almost always done by more than one person so you’ll want to learn to work with someone and share your methods and insights. Today, programming community is very open and willing to help out the beginners, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone who’d mentor you through the process. And once you’ve mastered the language, you should mentor someone else – because it’s a great way for retaining information.

Break Someone Else’s Code

This is one of the best techniques to learn to code, it’s basically reverse-engineering an existing code in order to better understand how it works. Like with coding games, the key here is to change one thing at a time and checking what actually changes when you do it. There’s plenty of open code on the web you can practice on and when you reach a point where you can improve it – you’ll know you’ve made it.

Conclusion

Some people will learn to code faster, some slower, but everyone can do it. Don’t get depressed if you’re in the latter group because it’s only natural and it won’t really matter once you reach a certain point. If you really want to learn to code, the time you’ve invested will definitely pay off if you just keep at it and push your own boundaries. It’s a long journey and you’ll have your doubts while you’re learning, but always keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to code – and the best way is your own way.    

Read More at How To Learn To Code Without Losing Your Mind



from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/learn-code-without-losing-mind/

Your Guide to Developing Microcopy Like a Pro

People often underestimate the power of their website, but great user design drives conversions. When we think of a user experience, a few things jump to mind: headlines, layout, font, color. Symmetry and visual cueing play a large role in how a user takes in content and even how they make decisions. This is the big stuff. And focusing on the big stuff is a good strategy.

On the other hand, you should also be paying attention to the small stuff. The littlest things can make the biggest impact – especially your microcopy. This little text is essential to your UX and your conversion rate.

What Is Microcopy?

As the name implies, microcopy is a term for small tidbits of copy on an interface that help users navigate your site. Examples might include contact form explainers, eCommerce hints, and error messages. At first glance, this microcopy might seem insignificant in the scope of your app’s overall design. In reality, it can have a huge impact on your conversions. Microcopy – these short snippets that inform, encourage action and validate readers’ thoughts – play a major role in guiding users on a site journey.

Why Is Microcopy Important?

Microcopy, when used properly, serves several important functions:

  • It informs. At its core, microcopy helps eliminate confusion and guides users through the process of using your website. On a form, microcopy might explain what information a user should provide and why, for example. And this leads to its next function:
  • It helps build trust. People are often wary about providing phone numbers or other personal information, for fear of bombardment by telemarketers. On a contact form, you might explain you only need their number if you need help with their order. This provides reassurance that may prove the difference between a sale and navigating away from your page. Microcopy assuages concerns about subscribing, purchasing, or registering.
  • It adds personality. On the faceless and sometimes impersonal internet, users create interaction. An effective microcopy strategy can make users feel as though you’re dedicated to their needs.
  • It speaks to your brand. Good microcopy reinforces your brand’s messaging throughout every interaction with your website – even the small ones. By eschewing bare bones prompts in favor of witty and engaging snippets, you’ll differentiate yourself and win them over from the beginning.
  • It drives conversions. Lastly, good microcopy can be the driving factor in getting a user to fill out a form or hit “submit.” Microcopy can quell reservations and make your users ready to take the next step.

How to Create Winning Microcopy

Hopefully, we’ve made a compelling case for microcopy. Now that you’re ready to proceed, keep the following tips in mind when creating your site or application’s microcopy:

The User Knows Best

Obviously, if you want to reach your users, you must know them. Consider your user’s pain points, and keep them in mind as you create your copy. Throughout your website, show them you know what they’re thinking and you’re on their side.

Keep Your Brand in Mind

Good microcopy always reinforces brand messaging. It’s important to understand your users, but it’s equally important that they understand you. In other words, keep your messaging consistent throughout your copy to ensure there’s no confusion. Here’s a tip: consider creating an internal style guide to aid your content writers and web designers throughout the process.

Show a Little Flair

You want to be professional and authoritative, yes. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t show a little personality. Microcopy should always serve a function, but it’s also an opportunity to have a little fun. Consider injecting a little humor or irreverence into your copy to keep your users engaged.

Keep It Concise

Remember the golden rule of good microcopy: it’s called “micro” for a reason. People don’t want to read large chunks of copy – and that’s especially true when it’s small. Address the problem, avoid technicality, and present a solution.

Be a Problem Solver

On a similar note, microcopy serves an important function: it addresses a problem and offers a solution. For example, an error message states what the problem is and may suggest how a user can fix it (for example, when registering for an account with an email that’s already in use).

Be Persuasive

Lastly, build on the assumption that a user is on the fence about a decision at all times. They think you may have the solution to their problem, but they can’t be sure. Microcopy presents the perfect opportunity to provide reassurance. Encourage them to take action by making brief mention of how many satisfied customers you’ve helped or one problem you solve better than everyone else.

When Should I Use Microcopy?

Previously, we cited a few examples. Knowing how to create it is one thing, but knowing where to place it on your site is another. You might need better microcopy if your site is suffering from low conversion rates or high rates of user error. Here are a few common opportunities to apply microcopy that can address both of these problems:

In Form Fields

All websites use form fields to gather information from users. Unfortunately, forms can be confusing, and users may make errors when completing fields, leading to frustration. Microcopy can not only provide reassurance about what you do with personal information but also information about how to rectify errors. Compelling error copy can make the difference between a user signing up and deciding it’s not worth the effort.

On CTAs

Call to action buttons are perhaps the best opportunity to leverage good microcopy. In fact, it will be the last thing they see before they decide to act – or leave your website. The key here is to think beyond the “click this button” trope. Instead, think of what your users will be getting when they take the next step, and use that to guide your copy.

To Answer “Why?”

Users may be uncomfortable with giving out personal information or posting their financial information online. A box like “why do we need this information?” with an explanation can provide valuable reassurance and help users understand why you’re asking for certain information.

Make an Impact with Microcopy

Your microcopy holds more weight than you might think. These valuable tidbits of information can help guide a user through your website or application, creating a user experience that drives conversions. It can build trust, engage users, and even add personality and stylistic flair to your work. While form, color, symmetry and flow will always be valuable to a website, it’s the details that will make your work truly shine. In this case, it seems appropriate to sweat the small stuff – because even the littlest facts can make a big impact.

Common UX Mistakes and How to Avoid (or Fix) Them

This post was written by Stephen Moyers, an online marketer, designer and avid tech-savvy blogger. He is associated with Los Angeles-based SPINX Digital Agency. He loves to write about web design, online marketing, entrepreneurship and much more. Apart from writing, he loves traveling & photography. 

The post Your Guide to Developing Microcopy Like a Pro appeared first on SpyreStudios.



from SpyreStudios http://spyrestudios.com/guide-developing-microcopy-like-pro/

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

How AI Is Interfacing with Web Design Today

The internet has undergone a lot of changes over the last few decades.  In the early days, the complexity of web design was more about the technologies available and had nothing to do with fonts, typography variations, robust visual content representation, rich media and all other elements of modern web design. Today, however, such complex elements are an integral part of the features of any website that must fit in with the times.

Modern web-design trend means a rising demand in elegant design end-results, featuring simplistic but compelling visuals.  Websites are now designed with the aim of communicating brand messages as well as leaving an impression on prospects while meeting the expectations of regular visitors. Ignore these and you could be in for a total web design failure.

How Has Artificial Intelligence Helped?

AI web design

Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the tech world and the web design niche has not been left behind. AI is fast becoming a vital tool in the hands of many professional web design and development companies for various reasons.

For example, the vast majority of commercial purpose websites designed today requires an expansive outlay of investments. This means that many small businesses and entrepreneurs are often left unable to match up the end results of such costly design processes.  Of course, the rise of ready to use content management systems means that literally anyone can enjoy web presence. However, to achieve industry-standard results is out of the reach of the average small business owner or entrepreneur. At least that was the situation before now.

Today, artificial intelligence has made it easy for web design and development companies to create costly website designs at a fraction of the cost. The use of complex algorithms of codes means that the design process is whittled down to the bare bones, saving time and energy that would have been otherwise used during the analytical stage of the web design consultation process.

With the AI era, a business owner in need of a website only has to answer a range of relevant questions asked by the AI system. With the answers provided, the system can evaluate the underlying needs of the business and the technical aspect of things. This is combined with the desired blueprint requested. The perfect combination of layout, design, branding, content and more are then suggested to the web designer or developer, saving them tens of hours in manpower. Artificial intelligence saves designers from the complex and time consuming process of analysing and designing individual elements of a website.

Additionally, the rise of AI has simplified UX design. The days when web users only had the option of navigating a website for products and services are long gone. Today, the implementation of chatbots in the design process means that site visitors can simply communicate with resident interactive bots to find what they are looking for in an instant. A visitor on an e-commerce store no longer has to go through the different logical navigation chains as they can simply communicate with a bot that will bring up the desired results in an instant. This goes beyond the website as many businesses are now deploying chatbots across social channels.

Brendan Wilde, marketing manager at OpenHost says “the rise of chatbots means businesses like ours where brands and other constituents of our target audience, may be looking for multiple domain name results, for example, can offer a more streamlined experience. With a chatbot, a visitor to the site can simply request for possible domain name options for certain keywords or phrases and the results will be immediately provided. This saves them the time it would have taken to scour through dozens of possible results on the website and for us, it helps drive them faster to conversion. This use of chatbots offers us a way to bypass the impact of user experience on conversions.”

Will Artificial Intelligence Take Away Web Design Jobs?

ai web design

There is a legitimate concern in the web design world that the increased adoption of artificial intelligence will equate to a loss of jobs in the web design world. The concern is understandable when you have AI platforms in existence that simply take the needs presented in a web design brief to churn out final designs that are as close to specifications as possible. However, there is no guarantee that AI will take way design jobs. There will be over 5 billion people on the internet by the end of 2020. This means there is no end in sight for the demand for web design. Secondly, while many small businesses will aim to cut costs by going with AI web design platforms such as Thegrid.io, many more medium to large scale businesses will still prefer to communicate with real designers to ensure the infusion of emotions and empathy in the overall design process.

For web designers, therefore, the focus should be on looking for ways incorporate AI into their process to increase efficiency and ensure better service delivery. In the next few years, only web designers that have worked out the perfect blend of AI usage and human input will remain relevant.

5 UX Trends That Will Change The Web in 2017

This post was written by James, a business psychologist and serial entrepreneur, with over a decade working in finance, IT, marketing and recruitment sectors. He has authored numerous books in the management space and is Founder and CEO of www.dailyposts.co.uk.

The post How AI Is Interfacing with Web Design Today appeared first on SpyreStudios.



from SpyreStudios http://spyrestudios.com/ai-web-design/

Monday, 14 August 2017

6 Web Design Trends You Should Forget

Do you remember those websites back in the 90s, and how they first landed on your screen? Do you remember Comic Sans, Scrolling Marquees, Hit Counters, Animated GIFs, or “Under construction” pages? If so, you are right on track! I was reminiscing these past days about these…

Well, a lot has changed by now, especially in the creative industry. Technology has advanced; marketing and communication paradigms have changed, bringing along innovation within web design. Therefore, websites have become increasingly exciting, insofar as unconventional features that are primarily designed to serve content to their users.

Some of these features have become trendsetters for many years. Others simply appeared and passed, barely touching the market for a short while. Trends come and go. There will always be a new trend coming along superseding the one in existence. That’s also the case for website designs, although we never know what becomes novelty and groundbreaking. Having all these cool functions to explore, many website owners adapt to whatever trend comes their way. Unfortunately, others are still stuck in the 90s.

Speaking of which, have you surfed various sites lately? Because I have. And I have noticed that while most sites adhere to the latest web design trends, others fail miserably at maintaining an updated design and implementing it properly.

Have you landed on a website with infinite scrolling, but without any function to go right back to the top (except for scrolling endlessly upwards again)? Some websites have features that are the death of them – slow loading pages, missing or hidden navigation menu, and even pushy CTAs that burst right in front of your eyes, cajoling you to subscribe to their never-ending newsletters and freebies. With that being said, I have listed below some previous design trends that should remain buried forever.

1. FLASH     

This is the first trend I recommend that you forget about. Start adopting the new HTML5 or other ways to animate your website. It simply is too outdated. Even if Flash played an important role in the rise of the Internet, it has recently become a bad choice for any modern web design and may have a negative impact on your website search engine optimization (SEO).

Although many websites still use it, there are many reasons why you should drop it.

1.1. Flash does not work on mobiles

If you incorporate Flash into your website, it will be unusable on mobile devices. It might even cause frustration among your audience. Taking into consideration that more than 60% of the Internet traffic is made using mobile phones and tablets, I think you should pay more attention to this aspect.

1.2. Flash is bad for SEO

Flash does not have any URLs for the separate pages and does not allow you to monitor outbound links. Therefore, Flash-based websites don’t provide enough elements for an effective SEO. Besides, they tend to be harder to use. Hence, Google gives lower rankings to those websites.

1.3. Flash must be installed into the browser

Being a proprietary software, Flash has to be installed, as it does not come with the browser by default. Users with a browser without the plugin are prompted to install it. Otherwise it restricts access to the content that heavily relies on it.

1.4. Terrible loading time.

As I have mentioned before, Flash-based sites tend to take longer to load. Taking into consideration that Internet users are busier than ever, it’s essential to have a site with load times as short as possible. If visitors have to wait too long, they might be tempted to look elsewhere, hence your competition, for a faster site.

1.5. Serious security flaws

Flash has always been plagued with reported security issues, but the last security flaws which led Firefox to block Flash by default on all websites until the flaws were patched is the final warning. It won’t be long until other browsers do the same thing.

2. CAROUSELS

According to a usability study published by Neilson Norman Group, auto-forwarding carousels annoy users and reduce visibility. For sure, each of us viewed such sites at one time, and did not pay too much attention to those auto-forwarding pictures.

According to this study, there are a couple of reasons why these believed-to-be “cool” design features are not great for your site’s usability and conversions:

  • Automatic rotation makes users lose the control of their interactions with your website. That is particularly annoying to those with motor skill issues.
  • They create banner blindness, and are often ignored by the viewers. Take a look at the example listed below. You will notice how the image slider hardly gets any attention, especially when they are focused on their desired products.

  • In many cases, the slides rotates so fast that readers do not have time to read your texts. Especially when part of your audience has a different native language than yours. Users clearly express their frustration by saying “I didn’t have time to read it. It keeps flashing too quickly.”

 

3. COMIC SANS FONT

Surely, there are many pros and cons to using Comic Sans font. But it’s time to let it go, even if it is one of the most frequently used fonts in the world. Granted, like everything else, there are designers who love it, but also there are designers who absolutely despise it. Personally, I am somewhere in between. It looks homely and handwritten, making the perfect choice for those things we deem to be fun and liberating. It could be great for toy shops. Nevertheless, t is not the ideal choice for corporate identity, luxury brands, media, or health services.

Still, Comic Sans is rooted in a history where early word processing had a limited number of fonts by default. Thus, Comic Sans was the go-to choice for the ‘less serious of fonts’. But nowadays, tens of thousands of fonts in every imaginable personality are readily available online, paid or free of charge. I hope the previously written article about Top 9 free fonts for designers (link la articol) will be a starting point, should you need some inspiration.

4. UNDER CONSTRUCTION PAGES

A common practice throughout the history of Internet and web design has been the use of “under construction”. These were useful pages for upcoming websites or for page that were in the process of redesigning. It was awesome in the past and people liked them. But nowadays, in a fast-paced environment, you should definitely put it on the ‘Do NOT’ list.

In many cases, a website establishes the first contact between your business and your target audience. So by providing a link to a web page, you have promised to deliver something (usually content). But by simply publishing an “under construction” page, you deliver nothing but frustration and disappointment. This is not the kind of first impression you want to give your customers.

Nevertheless, please take into consideration that plain “under construction” pages do not have any content on them. So, you do not deliver any content to Google, which in turn ranks websites based on their content. Therefore, they will not rank or index your page, and this is bad for your website!

So, instead of using this terrible option, you should consider putting up a beautiful landing page with some basic info, a newsletter sign-up form, a waiting list form, or a sleek-looking countdown.

You may find some inspiration here:

 5. DRAMATIC DROP SHADOWS

Although drop shadows is a tool that adds more spatiality to your text, you should stay away from the cheap & fake lighting effects! Big, soft, dark, and distanced drop shadows are the design equivalent of a Glamor Shot lighting, and no one really believes it. Even worse, anyone with some Photoshop skills can easily recognize the default drop shadow settings when they see them.

There are many other eye-catching ways to use drop shadows. For example, to make the text more realistic with added contrast, you may use subtle shadow, blending it in with the background.

If you want to add a cool retro vibe to your text, you may use the solid hard edge shadow behind the text. This is especially true if the hard edge shadow is separated from the text slightly, as well.

For an interesting, yet simple design element that gives movement without unneeded distractions, you may use long shadows. This is a newer trend that works perfectly with the minimalist trend.

 6. BEVEL AND EMBOSS

Nothing screams 90s designs like the old default bevel and emboss effect. For non-designers, “bevel and emboss” is a Photoshop effect that can be used to create a 3-dimensional appearance.

If a millennium ago it seemed like a good idea to add a tens of thousands of effects to your typefaces for highlighting your texts, it’s time you traveled into the future. Consider getting the same effect in a different way.

For example, make the button glossy, but using a smaller inner shadow and a light outer drop shadow.

Bottom line:

The trends above serve to illustrate the idea that keeping outdated design elements can actually negatively impact your website. Thus, making a bad impression on your viewers. But you should also keep in your mind the message you want to convey. As long as you have these pointers in mind, the design style you want to use is a matter of choice. Just make sure it’s one among the newest trends.

Read More at 6 Web Design Trends You Should Forget



from Web Design Ledger https://webdesignledger.com/6-web-design-trends-you-should-forget/

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Microcopy Tips to Improve Your Site’s UX

Microcopy is a fundamental part of your site’s UX. Let’s check out some microcopy tips for a better user experience.

What is microcopy?

Microcopy is made up of the tiny snippets of text scattered around your website. It can include things like button texts, form labels, interaction prompts, tool tips and even error messages. As a rule, microcopy is short, isolated and typically functional.

At it’s core, microcopy should be clear. Since it’s mostly functional, it needs to clearly and concisely convey information to the user without unnecessary confusion. For example, if a user’s password isn’t strong enough, the microcopy needs to clearly explain why the password isn’t strong enough. “Weak password” isn’t enough to get the job done effectively. By the same token, a form’s labels need to be clear so the user knows how to submit the form.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be be boring! “Easily understood” is not a synonym for “dry as dust.” For many websites, microcopy represents an untapped branding resource that can be used to better convey your brand to new visitors.

What makes for good microcopy?

microcopy tips microscope

The best microcopy does its job while conveying a key element of the brand. It feels like a small treasure, a reward to observant users that actually read menus and prompts. It’s one of the little details that can help cement your user experience by unifying your and reinforcing your message and identity.

Food delivery hub Grubhub (and Seamless) is my favorite example of effective microcopy. After you’re submitted your food order, you can tick a box next to the following text: “Spare me the napkins and plasticware. I’m trying to save the earth.” This copy is equal parts functional and expressive. Users know what will happen if they check that box, but they also get a cute little joke that helps them better understand Grubhub’s slightly-snarky brand. It also gently encourages the user to opt to hold disposable cutlery. After all, don’t they want to save the Earth too? All this meaning in a dozen words!

Microcopy tips for good microcopy

If you want to improve your site’s microcopy, you can follow some of the microcopy tips below to spruce up your site.

1. Get inside your user’s head

The best microcopy gives a user the information they need just as they need it, without unnecessary confusion or complexity. If you want to do this right, you’ll need to understand how your user’s interact with your site or product.When you’ve been building a project yourself, it’s easy to assume the user knows more about your product or website than they do, and that can make for insufficient or sparse microcopy. This is why user experience pros interview users: they need to understand the user perspective.

If you’re running usability testing, pay special attention to user comments about intelligibility and clarity. If you’re not, get a uninitiated friend or colleague to stand if for a user. It’s not nearly as good as actual testing, but it’s better than nothing.

2. Talk to your user like a human

People want to be treated like humans, and they respond well when they are. Take advantage of this quirk and talk to your user like a person. Ditch stiff and overly formal language whenever possible, and try to avoid technical or complex verbiage.

3. Squeeze you brand in edgewise, but don’t overdo it

While you don’t want to overwhelm the user with branded messaging, you should always consider using your microcopy as a branding opportunity. Of course, you don’t want to muddle things like form labels, navigation or instructional text, which would be frustrating. For those kind of user communications, clarity is most important. But for things like 404 pages, confirmation dialogues and error messages, a tiny bit of branding can go a long way to improve the user’s impression of your brand.

4. Write clearly

By AJC1 via Flickr, used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Your microcopy should be easy for the user to understand. We don’t want to be fielding support requests from users that can’t understand error messages—at least not more frequently than we have to. So, to that end, we need to write microcopy clearly.

The Flesch Readability scale is a great tool for understanding how easy your copy is to understand. This scale grades your copy out of a 100 point system, with higher point values signifying simpler copy. In general, a score of about 60 is considered fairly easy to read, and that’s what we should aim for in our microcopy. For critical messages that must be understood, we might even shoot higher, aiming for a score of 80 or above. You can use a service like Readable to test your copy.

Conclusion

Whether you want it or not, your site probably need microcopy. And if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right! Make sure your microcopy is clear, intelligible, and useful to your user. Don’t skimp on opportunities to express your brand either. A little humanity and humor can go a long way.

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