Product Designers, Focus on Copy Early

Giff Constable Uncategorized

Words are an essential part of software product design. They are a key ingredient for both usability and customer success. Yet, from what I have seen, far too many designers delay working on copy until late in the process.

I’m all for sketching (rough draft culture!), but even a sketch should have thought and purpose. Don’t just think about the layout. Think about the intent and the words.

Every label and every bit of micro-copy shows off whether you truly understand what the screen is trying to accomplish.

When you create a mockup or clickable prototype, the examples you choose are a core part of telling the story. The story can either hold together and feel authentic, or it can expose that the product team doesn’t really know what should happen or is likely to happen.

And if you aren’t sure, if you can’t sketch in words effectively, then maybe you need to understand your domain deeper. Time to re-double those research efforts!

My recommendation is to drive to an 80–20 rule (i.e. 80% good-enough copy) early on in your design process. Save the final editing and refinement for later (although don’t forget). Never use lorem ipsum, and don’t get lazy with language. After all, no one understands better than a designer that the user experience must be holistic. That includes copy, and should from the start.