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Top 10 Tips - How to Write Copy for Mobile Apps

Ryan Stiggants

Writing copy for mobile apps is tricky business! You are limited on space, so you need to be watchful of your character use, whilst making sure that your app is still engaging and enjoyable to use. 99% of people using your app, won't have a second thought about the copy, but that doesn't mean you should underestimate it. To make your life that little bit easier, I have compiled a top ten list of how to write copy for mobile apps.

1. Know Your User

If you have reached a point where you are beginning to focus on the content of the app, you should have a pretty good idea of who your target market is, and who your average user will be. If you don’t, then you need to sit down and have a good old fashioned researching session before you even consider writing any copy. If you don’t understand who the user will be, how will you know how to address them? The way you approach a businessman will be entirely different from how you engage with a pop loving teen. Get to know who your user is, and assess where they sit on the scale of formality.

2. Establish Your Voice

Is your target market industry officials or 20 something gamers? These two markets are worlds apart, as is the language they use. Is your user a fan of slang or strict formality? You need to create a voice that is both genuine to your app, and is relatable for your audience. Once you have established your app's voice, create a mini guide outlining what makes your app what it is, this will help prevent your copy from skewing off course.

3. Brand Identity

An app is a business and your user needs to be able to tell you apart from the competition. There are three essential steps you have to take in order to establish your brand; App Name, Logo, and Tagline. By having a clear brand identity you can then decide on the tone to take with your user that will fit with your desired image.

4. Bold, Memorable Tag Line

This is the app’s catchphrase. Generally speaking an app name won’t say a whole lot about what the app does, your tagline helps add intrigue and entices the user to find out more. Make your tagline memorable, punchy and audience appropriate. It doesn’t necessarily have to fully explain the apps functionality, but your tagline should at least hint to it. Take your time with it, throw suggestions around, and see what works. Mind maps are a great way to establish words and phrases that describe your app. Always keep your user in mind when you decide your tagline, as a whimsical play on words may not be quite fitting for all apps.

5. Short & Sweet

By their nature, mobile apps restrict your copy freedom. You have a limited amount of space to fit your copy in, and no user wants to scroll through pages and pages of text before they can even use the app. Don’t use “however” if “but” will do.

6. Directly Address The User

Users want their experience to feel personal. By directly address the user in your copy they will be able to see how the app will affect them in their life. “You” and “your” will suffice, you don’t need to change your copy for every Tom, Dick and Harry.

7. Make It Engaging

So, “engaging” has become a little bit of a buzzword when it comes to copy, and it’s at a risk of losing its meaning. You want to keep your users active and involved in your app, and “engaging” copy is the best way to achieve that. Keep it conversational and friendly, users want to feel comfortable when using an app, so avoid throwing a load of jargon at them.

8. Consistency Not Repetition

Keeping the same phrasing throughout an app will provide a feeling of consistency and helps resinate the app’s identity. This doesn’t mean you use the exact same copy everywhere, just take keywords and carry them through.

9. Say It As It Is

Your app must be user friendly, and the best way to achieve this is by making your copy clear. Users don’t have the time or the patience to be confused or lost in your app. For example if your app has sections, name each section obviously so they know exactly where to look.

10. Proof Read

Spelling and grammatical errors aren’t pretty. Get someone else to QA your copy, no one is perfect and mistakes happen!