Steal my 20+ UX writing tips for better content design

Copywriting for team-of-one product designers

When I worked for startups, I wished I had these tips. Instead, I was trying to produce verbose sentences that were grammatically correct.

I understand the unique challenges when working as a solo, team-of-one designer and wearing multiple hats — including content design.

Despite no longer working for startups and having dedicated content designers on my team, I still visit these tips from time to time.

Tip #1 — Keep it simple

OK: “The coloration of the clickable button is blue.”

Better: “The button is blue.”

Why: A good sentence uses simple language that is easy to understand.

Tip #2 — Use active voice

OK: “Your account has been deleted by our system.”

Better: “We deleted your account.”

Why: Active voice is direct and easy to understand, which improves clarity.

Tip #3 — Avoid jargon

OK: “The JSON file was corrupted.”

Better: “There was a problem with the file.”

Why: Not all users will understand technical terms. It’s best to keep the language clear and simple.

Tip #4 — Be concise

OK: “In order to proceed with the process, you are required to press the button marked as ‘Continue’.”

Better: “Press ‘Continue’ to proceed.”

Why: Shorter, to-the-point sentences reduce cognitive load and increase understanding.

Tip #5 — Use personal language

OK: “Users should update their profiles.”

Better: “Update your profile.”

Why: Speaking directly to the user creates a more engaging and personal experience.

Tip #6 — Align with the brand tone

OK: “Hey there! Wanna see your account details?” (for a professional business application)

Better: “View your account details.”

Why: The writing should match the brand’s tone to provide a consistent user experience.

Tip #7 — Provide clear error messages

Not great: “Error 404.”

Better: “We can’t find the page you’re looking for.”

Why: Clear error messages help users understand what went wrong and what they can do next. Add an example, “Did you mean xyz page”?

Tip #8 — Use positive language

OK: “Don’t forget to save your work.”

Better: “Remember to save your work.”

Why: Positive language is more engaging and user-friendly.

Tip #9 — Avoid double negatives

OK: “Do not uncheck this box if you don’t want to avoid unsubscribing.”

Better: “Check this box to keep your subscription.”

Why: Double negatives can confuse users, making it harder to understand the action.

Tip #10 — Prioritize readability

Not great: “Savechanges” or “SAVE ALL CHANGES” or “Save Changes.”

Better: “Save changes”

Why: Proper spacing and capitalization improve readability and comprehension.

Tip #11 — Give clear instructions

OK: “Go ahead.”

Better: “Click ‘Next’ to continue.”

Why: Specific instructions help guide the user’s actions.

Tip #12 — Use numerals for numbers

OK: “Your package will arrive in two days.” and “You have thirty minutes to activate your account.”

Better: “Your package will arrive in 2 days.” and “You have 30 minutes to activate your account.”

Why: Numerals stand out better and are easier to scan than spelled-out numbers. Also, think about all the non-native speakers who might use the product.

Tip #13 — Use verbs to start action button labels

OK: “Agreement acceptance”

Better: “Accept agreement”

Why: Action words at the beginning of button labels make it clear what will happen when the user clicks.

Tip #14 — Use descriptive link text

OK: “Click here.”

Better: “Learn more about our privacy policy.”

Why: Descriptive link text improves accessibility and helps set appropriate expectations about what users will find when they click.

Tip #15 — Write for your audience

Not great: “Please submit your query.” (for a children’s app)

Better: “Ask us anything!”

Why: Knowing your audience helps you write in a way that best communicates with them.

Tip #16 — Use consistent terminology

OK: Using “Cart”, “Basket”, and “Bag” interchangeably on an e-commerce site.

Better: Consistently using “Cart” throughout the site.

Why: Consistent terminology enhances clarity and prevents confusion.

Tip #17 — Explain acronyms and abbreviations

OK: “Our CDN improves site performance.”

Better: “Our Content Delivery Network (CDN) improves site performance.”

Why: Not all users will be familiar with specific acronyms or abbreviations, so it’s best to explain them.

Tip #18 — Provide context for data

OK: “You’ve earned 1500 points.”

Better: “You earned 1500 points — enough for a $15 voucher.”

Why: Providing context helps users understand the relevance or value of the information.

Tip #19 — Communicate time frames accurately

OK: “We’ll get back to you soon.”

Better: “We’ll respond within 24 hours.”

Why: Providing specific time frames sets realistic expectations for the user.

Tip #20 — Use simple verb tense

OK: “The money has been sent.”

Better: “Money sent.”

Why: Using simple verb tense (e.g. past simple) makes sentences easier to comprehend.

Tip #21 — Test your content

OK: “Continue with the task.”

Better: After testing, you may find that “Keep going” performs better.

Why: Testing different phrases helps identify which best drives user engagement.

These are my 20+1 tips for designers who also write copy because no one else on the team would.