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Writing principles for UI copy

Without UI copy, users wouldn't be able to use or interact with applications. But writing UI copy without considering the user-facing impact of each word is almost as bad as having no UI copy at all.

Because words are the most familiar aspect of a UI, users look to them first for guidance. UI copy that is clear, consistent, and concise results in a product that feels helpful and earns trust. UI copy that is confusing, unpredictable, and text-heavy leaves users feeling lost and frustrated.

The purpose of these guidelines is to promote best practices for UI copy in the Unity Editor and to drive for alignment between the UX writers and technical writers who write UI copy at Unity.

UI copy is not easy to write: it involves very few words that must convey complex concepts at a glance. Clear guidelines make writing UI copy easier and more efficient and increase the quality of our UI for our users.

If you need help writing UI copy, post your question in the #editor-ui-words Slack channel or create a JIRA ticket in the UICOPY project.

Universal guidelines for UI copy

Each line of UI copy contributes to the overall voice of the Unity Editor. The characteristics of a product’s voice impact how users feel when using the product. A clear, consistent, and delightful product voice is a powerful differentiator.

All UI copy must be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Consistent
  • Action-oriented
  • User-centric
  • Inclusive

To ensure that your UI copy has these qualities, read your UI copy and ask yourself the following questions.

QualitiesQuestions
Clear

Are all words simple, common, and familiar to users?

Are all technical terms explained by tooltips or descriptions?

Would a non-native English speaker understand it?

Concise

Are all sentences, phrases, and paragraphs scannable?

Are buttons limited to 3 words or less?

ConsistentIs sentence case used whenever possible?
Action-oriented

Do all buttons / CTAs clarify the outcome of using them?

Do error messages provide one or more solutions?

User-centricHave all references to Unity and “we” been reformatted into “you” and “your” to match the perspective of the user?
InclusiveIs the tone professional and conversational?