Writing Best Practices All Designers Should Know

Write Actively

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

Write in active voice instead of passive voice to make sentences easier to understand. Writing in an active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the action expressed in the verb. On the other hand, passive voice is when the subject is acted upon as in he/she receives the action expressed by the verb.

Point of View

We use the first person (my, I, we) in navigational content.
We use the second person (you, your) in informational or instructional content.
Avoid using “you” in error messages as it can be interpreted as placing blame.
We use third person (it, they) when speaking about another item, person, or company. However, we typically call out the name of the item, company, or item instead of using a pronoun.

Eliminate Dead Ends

With a product as large as ours, it’s crucial to keep users on the path to understanding all the capabilities of Procore. Whenever possible, shortly and clearly outline any next steps or product capabilities that will help the user find their way and understand Procore’s value. Use calls-to-action that are clear on the specific actions the user should take next.

Create Teaching Moments – Without Being Bossy

Users should learn to use our product without feeling overwhelmed or inundated by tasks. When possible, we avoid language like “you must” or “you have to.” Instead, rely on active language to encourage users to take the next step.

Use Consistent Language to Guide Users

Consistent language helps users understand the next steps they are about to take, and eliminates the confusion of introducing new terms at critical points in the user journey. Be sure to use the same action word consistently.

Write for the User First, Always

Would a construction worker use this language to explain the process to another construction worker?

We need to write in a way that every user can understand and repeat, so asking this question can help simplify your language to make sure it resonates in the real world. Another tip: Don’t use vernacular and terminology only customers using your tool will understand.