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Definition: Microcopy

What is microcopy?

Microcopy (sometimes also referred to as 'UX microcopy') is the short-form text often seen within an app, product, or website's user interface on its buttons, labels, and fields.

The purpose of these small snippets of text is to tell a user what to do, explain something that might otherwise be confusing, and give confidence to users so that they can be sure of what they've just selected.

Microcopy is:

  • Short
  • Informative and/or instructional
  • Easy to understand

What's more, microcopy should embody a brand's personality and tone of voice. Done right, it can help an organization build trust and empathy with its users.

Microcopy may involve fewer words, but content professionals often deem this kind of content as the trickiest to write. This is because, often, much has to be said in a minimal number of characters.

On websites and apps, examples of microcopy can be found in the following places:

  • On forms
  • On CTA buttons
  • Within pop-up windows
  • In error messages
  • On GDPR-related banners
  • Pop-up hints and tips
  • As prompts (when e-commerce-related)

Testing microcopy is crucial to its success

User research testing is an essential part of ensuring the microcopy you write is effective.

Testing offers useful insight into which parts of your app, product, or website is clear to users, and which parts are confusing to them.

User research testing for microcopy could include multiple different types of testing. Some experts recommend the following:

  • Listening to the words people use
  • Asking users to highlight words
  • Asking people to think aloud

Revising microcopy after the testing process so that it's more effective can make a huge difference to engagement levels and, if relevant to your industry, sales revenue.