You can see the spike in web traffic this summer, but it doesn’t correlate with an uptick in applications. Poring over the data, you watch visitors bail out before connecting with admissions. You’ve massaged all department copy, updated to real photos of the campus, and added about 50 smiling faces. It might be time to explore the benefits of microcopy.
What Does Microcopy Have to Do With Higher Education?
User experience, or UX, is what drives your website visitors to complete transactions on your site, and microcopy is the lumbar support in that driver’s seat. You might not notice the ergonomic shape of the seat, but you know you can drive a long time without getting a backache. In the same way, microcopy fades into the background while making your website visitors’ journeys more comfortable.
Dissect your website, and you’ll find that microcopy is one of the things keeping your user experience alive. Users come to your site for the content, but they stay for the comfort and ease of navigation. The right microcopy makes your web visitors feel smart, and that’s what they want from an institution of higher learning. On each page, the microcopy guides the user so they know what to do, how to get where they are going, and what will happen when they click the button.
How Microcopy Strengthens Brand
In addition to driving user experience, microcopy can also strengthen your brand, which can lead to more conversions. In the old days, button labels, error messages, and navigation cues were written by programmers in their own unique language. Today, you can use that microcopy to immerse website visitors in your own unique language – your brand.
When written in the voice of your other website content, microcopy can extend your branding and accentuate the user experience. Try trading in “click here” for “let’s get started” to evoke the supportive vibe of your carefully honed brand. An error message articulated in the language of your brand – language your audience identifies with – rather than computer-speak can deepen your brand’s relationship with the user. Microcopy is one more small way to strengthen the branding on your website.
Tips for Writing Good Microcopy
Writing microcopy for your website is an ongoing project. Like many other pieces of live content, microcopy needs to be fed and nurtured. Some brands hire user experience experts to write their microcopy, but here are some tips you can use to write your own:
Get Into the Mind of the User
By anticipating the user’s concerns, you can write microcopy that makes them feel supported. For instance, instructions for completing an online contact form might explain who will receive the information and how it will be used. Be sure to include microcopy about what users can expect as they navigate through your website. Knowing exactly where a button will take them makes users more likely to click.
Be Clear and Even Repetitive
When you want a website visitor to answer questions, make it easy to understand what type of information you are looking for. If you ask for personal information, explain why you need it and how it will be protected. Repetition of important information can make the user feel supported and protected.
Use Your Brand Voice
Every piece of microcopy can help reinforce your branding. If your brand has a casual, comfortable tone, make sure it is reflected in your button labels. Skip “search” as search-bar content in favor of “What do you want to learn?” or some other phrase that matches your brand voice. Connect with users through microcopy that says, “I know who you are, how you think, and what you need.”
Avoid Using Jargon
This is really a general tip for all content writing. Remember that your audience is mostly outside of academia. You want to invite them in, but using insider talk will only alienate them. Go easy on references to matriculating, terms, and tenure, and prominently define any acronyms you use. You won’t get many click-throughs on a button labeled ABE, least of all from the adult learners you are looking for.
Microcopy is a small detail of your online presence that can make a big impact on user experience and help drive conversions. For some expert advice on the quality and testing of your user experience, contact LIGHTSTREAM today.