Writing interface copy

We are in the business of content creation, so we've seen the power that words can have. Words are an important design tool, and can have a huge impact on the User Experience of any product. Including, let’s say, an editor for structured content. The words in Fonto should have a positive impact on the experience of your users. This article helps you achieve that.

Guidelines

Writing your interface copy with the following guidelines in mind will help deliver a consistent experience. This is important to make Fonto feel more professional, reliable and to prevent confusion. Inconsistent writing can give users the feeling that they are in a conversation with six different people. Exhausting, right? So let's make sure that their energy is spent in better ways.

Personality: who we are

  • Clear & concise. The time of our users is very valuable, so Fonto has a touch of “Dutch directness”.
  • Friendly. To users, clients, partners, anyone: we're here to help.  
  • Slightly casual. We are a young and vibrant bunch of people. We wear T-shirts, not tailored suits. But keep it professional.  
  • Humorous when appropriate. At suited moments, our alter ego Fun-toXML may arise. Be aware though: pick the right context, and keep in mind that seeing the same joke 10 times a day won’t be very funny.

Content: what we say

  • Keep it brief. Always ask yourself: “Is this information relevant right now?”. Write your message, then try to cut it in half. Twice.
  • Front-load your message. Start each message, paragraph and sentence with its most important information. Then, explain the rest – if you really need to. 

Style: how we say it

  • “We” talk to “you”Address the user as “you”, from a “we” perspective. 
  • <message audience=”homo-sapiens”/>. No robo-talk, folks. We are here to help people create content for other people. 
  • Active voice. So Jan clicks the button” instead of The button is being clicked by Jan”.
  • Consistent terminology. Stick with a single term for a single concept: it will save people a lot of confusion. 
  • Meaningful verbs. When you need to describe an action, choose a descriptive label. 
  • Contractions are OK. They fit our friendly personality, so use them if you will. Or don’t. You don’t have to. 
  • Use positive language. We like to keep people in a good mood as much as we can. Positive language helps with that.