The Magic of Microcopy

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Delight is in the details.

Little Details

When I think about the products I love, they all have one thing in common: delightful little details.

There’s this coffee shop I visit almost every day. Whenever I order a drink, they always add a little artwork on top. It might be a fancy leaf one day, a swirly swan the next. These foamy figures don’t make the drink taste any better, but they do make me smile.

This delightful detail shows that they put a lot of love into what they’re making. It’s just a little detail, a little shape, but it shapes how I feel about the product.

In design, one detail that often gets overlooked is microcopy — the little bits of text that guide us through an experience. In apps and websites, microcopy includes things like button labels, hint text, and error messages.

When used in the right places, microcopy can turn a mundane task into something memorable. In this story, we’ll see how microcopy can be used in all sorts of delightful ways.

By the end, I hope you’ll see just how magical microcopy can be.

But Hold Up!

All this talk of delightful microcopy might sound fine and dandy, but honestly, it’s a hard thing to get right. You need to keep in mind the dangers of delightful design, because too much whimsy can get in the way.

In interface writing, it’s usually best to strive for brevity and clarity. But fun microcopy often requires longer messages and less clarity. Depending on your brand, you need to figure out where you stand on this spectrum. When do you optimize for clarity and when do you optimize for delight?

Tiny Words Matter

After seeing these examples of delightful microcopy, I hope it’ll inspire you to look at your product in a new light. Microcopy plays a big part in shaping how people think about your product, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to delight people with words.

It’s not just about getting people from point A to point B. Sometimes, you gotta let ‘em enjoy the ride, too. ?

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