At the core
of UX writing is the interest of the reader. If it isn't easy to follow,
or doesn't speak to the reader's interest, it's not a great experience, and may be unusable.
That's true whether you're writing app microcopy or a technical paper. Even a magazine article can be "unusable."
First, the user needs a reasonto read it.
Or instead of reading it, it could be a video, or audio. (I do those, too.)
Then, if he or she bails before acting, either the writing wasn't
reader/user-friendly, or it didn't clearly explain what's in it for them.
In terms of copy length, here's the long and the short of it …
Long-form, dense technical information
I've long said, "The language of the prospect,
not a bit more technical than that."
This doesn't rule out techspeak, but it does mean that every bit of jargon and every technical detail should be there for a reason.
After all, businesspeople and engineers (to take the most common examples) are people first.
Make the text seem as clear
as Common Sense.Don't just cut.
Simplify. And whether the writing is digital or print, use classic
readability principles (e.g., espoused by David Ogilvy) and new test findings (e.g., taught by Jakob Nielsen) to make
the copy easy to skim. Make key points easy to see and understand.
The most important key point being: what's in
it for them?
With everything riding on an app's or
microsite's usability, it's even more important to make
the copy and layout clear and relevant. Yet, here, too, the principles of
intuitive use have many roots in
traditional media. Gaze motion. Color. White space. Font selection, size and relative weights.
Concise, efficient wording.
To these, add new
techniques (such as hover tips, conventional formats, universal icons, and various tools), and you're in pretty good shape.
If you can add formal user testing,
so much the better. But there are ways of informally (and inexpensively) doing basic user testing.
And many of these principles are already
confirmed by previous testing, even if they go back 50 years.
Over time, many usability techniques have been forgotten, or were not learned.
The same is true of some collaboration practices I professionally "grew up" with.
I gladly help developers, marketers and
publishers return to these proven practices.