Why microcopy is massive for your GDPR strategy

Why microcopy is massive for your GDPR strategy

May 2018 was a pretty big month, with a little thing called GDPR coming into effect. Its main objective was to give citizens back control of their personal data; shifting the balance of power from companies to users.

You might just be worrying about whether you comply right now, however, investing in microcopy could help you forge a competitive advantage despite these uncertain times.

A quick definition of microcopy

Microcopy refers to the words that guide users through an interface. It’s on buttons, forms, cookie messages and any other copy that helps you complete tasks.

What’s it got to do with GDPR?

There’s tons to read on GDPR, but the bottom line is that companies now have to be open about the personal data they collect, explain why they want it and get permission to capture it. Failure to comply will result in big, scary fines.

It meant that some rethinking was needed for cookie messages, marketing opt-ins and any other form of data entry.

With GDPR now forcing your hand, capturing data successfully hinges on the words you use.

GDPR has put a lid on the cookie jar

You’ll recall visiting a website and being told that “by continuing to browse you consent to our cookie policy”. This doesn’t wash in a post-GDPR world.

Users can now opt out of non-essential cookies such as Google Analytics and Hotjar, which can directly affect the success of your business.

Why? Because although non-essential for the user, these cookies give your design and marketing teams quick access to large volumes of rich data that they can use to guide key optimisation decisions. So when you can’t rely on implied consent, your microcopy needs to work extra hard to earn it. Words are your greatest design tool for earning the trust of your users— and the data that comes with it.

The foundation of good microcopy is clarity. It has to be clear and useful. But when it comes to data, this won’t be enough. This microcopy will need to sell. It needs to convert users into giving over their data. And this will really separate the micro copywriters from those who just fill in the copy.

You need to be open yet persuasive about the trade-off and lead with the benefits. If you fail, users won’t accept these cookies and you’ll be forced to design in the dark.

Knowing your users is key

Tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar are amazing because they shine a light on who the users are, how they behave on your site, where they leave, and all manner of other invaluable information.

But put yourself in the users’ shoes for a second…

“Let me get this straight, you’re going to track my mouse movements around the screen and you’ll be able to see a video of my screen as I use the site? Ha, no chance.”

Image courtesy of hotjar.com

Image courtesy of hotjar.com

To the user this is just plain intrusive and probably a little terrifying, so you need to be really open about your intentions.

To soothe their fears and even encourage them, you should explain the benefit to them, what you’ll do with their data and how you’ll keep it safe — all in a clear and human way (like all good microcopy).

They need to know that by handing over their data it will help improve their future experiences with the product. But dig deeper than that if you can. What about the product will improve specifically? Will it mean something they love will get even better or is it a case of fixing something that has caused frustration?

If you have a UX writer who has devoted time to understanding your users, their fears and their motivations, you’re already at an advantage.

Make GDPR an opportunity with microcopy

You may need to put the effort in, but the competitive advantage is huge.

By investing more into microcopy than your competitors, you’ll build trust with your users instead of having them question your intentions. Plus you’ll convert more users to accept these “non-essential” cookies. This will limit the effect GDPR is having on your data-led optimisations— while it may wreak havoc for everyone else.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. GDPR will continue to drive greater data awareness, meaning you’ll need to design the words you use even more carefully. And now the two are even more closely linked:

You can’t design effectively without data.

And, you can’t collect data successfully without good design.

So invest in your microcopy, and don’t just design for compliance. Design to make data your biggest advantage.

Interview with Chloe Kiln from Work.Life

Interview with Chloe Kiln from Work.Life

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