Curated Resource ( ? )

Designing Voice and Tone In UX Writing

my notes ( ? )

Voice is your personality, and tone is your attitude.
✅ Voice never changes, but tone adapts to the situation.
✅ It changes depending on user’s emotional state.

✅ Unpack your brand voice and the tones it can take.
✅ E.g. passionate → enthusiastic, confident, playful.
✅ Arrange your user’s emotional states on a tone scale.
✅ E.g. pleased, satisfied, neutral, confused, angry.
✅ Set writing guidelines for each part of the scale.

✅ Then, find key points and spikes in your user journeys.
✅ You’ll need to find the right tone of voice for each.
✅ Choose dimensions that represent your tone map.
✅ E.g. motivational <-> supportive, concise <-> detailed.
✅ Plot key events of the user journey onto the map.

When users feel neutral, be warm, relatable and get to the point. When users are satisfied, sound confident, enthusiastic, perhaps even playful. But when they are confused, stay helpful, concise, honest and direct.

Always test your copy. Ask users to underline what’s been helpful for them and circle what hasn’t. Word length matters: the shortest version will usually work best. And never (ever!) include exclamation marks in your error messages

✤ Useful resources on UX writing:

UX Language:
Plain Language Guidelines:
Bias-Free Language:
Human-centric microcopy:
Language, Please:
Readability Guidelines:

Also highly recommended: Voice and Tone For Interfaces (PDF, Presentation), by Michael Metts, with plenty of practical advice and thought-provoking ideas (attached).

As Michael Metts noted, it’s not a question of whether your product has a voice or changes its tone. It’s a question of how intentional you are about it. And being intentional can make a world of a difference when things turn in unexpected ways.

✤ Voice and Tone in Design Systems

Canada Post:
Girlguiding: 👍
Goldman Sachs:
NHS: 👍
Progressive’s: 👍
Skrill: 👍
Zendesk: 👍

✤ Useful resources

Tone and Voice Workshop (Miro, PDF), by Antonia Horvath

UX Writer’s Guide To Voice & Tone, by Slater Katz

Voice Principles And Tone Map, by Paavan Buddhdev

Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice, by Kate Moran

Deliveroo Voice and Tone Case Study, by Rhiannon Jones

Brand Voice vs. Tone Worksheet (PDF), by Oskar Duberg

✤ Books

– Content Design by Sarah Winters
– Nicely Said, by Nicole Fenton, Kate Kiefer Lee
– Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley
– Conversational Design by Erika Hall
– Writing Is Designing, by Michael Metts, Andy Welfle ✏️

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