Yael Ben-David at Content Strategy Lausanne

Writing two sides of one transaction – Yael Ben-David

Here you find the link to the full recording of the webinar and the transcript regarding the February 2020 Content Strategy Lausanne meetup with Yael Ben-David.

Introduction by Isaline Muelhauser, host of Content Strategy Lausanne.

Talk by Yael Ben-David, UX writer at Fundbox. Yael is a UX writer based in Tel Aviv who specializes in complex products. She has written for health, finance, and other sectors for products used by more than 100 million people around the world. After a BA in journalism at New York University and MSc and PhD studies in neurobiology at The Hebrew University, Yael discovered her passion for making innovative tech accessible to mass markets through clear, helpful, data-driven microcopy.

Follow Yael on Twitter: @YaelBenDavid

Read Yeal’s article on Medium.

A huge thank you to Yael. Preparing a presentation and being present to the meetup take a lot of time. Content Strategy Lausanne is nothing without speakers willing to share their knowledge. It was a pleasure to welcome Yael.

Learning from people is my favorite way to learn! Seeing so many participants connected Thursday February 4th made me happy. Many thanks to you all for you support!

Full Webinar Recording with Yael

Forgive me for setting the Zoom webinar wrong: Yael cannot share a camera. This is a pity, I promise I will do it right next time!

Recording of Yael Ben-David – Writing two sides of one transaction

Yael Ben-David, UX writer at Fundbox, explains the approach, methodology, and tools developed at Fundbox to answer the following questions:

  • How do you write microcopy that resonates for multiple user segments?
  • How do you address different pain points all in one interface?
  • How do you find terminology that sounds natural and garners trust from users who live in two different worlds?
  • How (and when) do you maintain multiple segment-specific versions?

Join Content Strategy Lausanne

Content Strategy Lausanne is a meetup that aims at promoting and sharing knowledge about Content Strategy and writing for the web. Content Strategy Lausanne organizes events in person and in webinars. 

Content Strategy Lausanne was founded and is hosted by Isaline Muelhauser. Isaline loves SEO and writing.

➡️ Join the community of content strategy and writing enthusiasts by joining the meetup group.

If you have any questions or ideas, contact Isaline@pilea.ch without hesitation.

Full transcript of the webinar with Yael Ben-David

Transcript created with the help Ross John dela Rosa. Thanks Ross.

Isaline: Hello everybody! I can see some people connecting. Thank you for being here. This is Content Strategy Lausanne. I am happy to welcome you. I am already with Yael but unfortunately, I made a mistake when I set up the webinar. You won’t be able to see Yael which is a pity and I’m really sorry about that. But the good thing is you will be able to see her slides. So, I mean… They are the most important, right? But I promise, next time I’ll be extra careful about the setting of the webinar with zoom. I forgot to put a tick so that’s why it doesn’t work.

Can you hear us well? Well, you can see me, I suppose. But can you just say a quick, “Hello!” or just tell me that everything is fine in the chat so in case there is any other technical difficulties then I can fix it. Well, hopefully. Okay, it seems it’s so good. So, I’m really happy about that. Let me start with telling you a few words about Content Strategy Lausanne.

This is a meetup I started a few years ago when I started writing for products full time in a web agency. And I really wanted to get to know people and meet new people and so that’s why I started. And nowadays that with the COVID, we don’t do in-person meetings. So, the good thing about it is that we can invite. I mean, we can invite speakers and geographic doesn’t matter anymore. So, that’s why I can invite Yael tonight. And I’m really happy to have her because I’ve been following her work. It seems that in Tel Aviv there is a like, many writers and a big culture of writing which is not currently the case in Switzerland. So, that’s why I’m really aware of what other people in other countries are doing. And I remember there were in particular one article she wrote about the interview she didn’t have. She listens to a podcast and she was like, “Oh, I would love to be a guest at this podcast.” And I thought that was so, just cool to do to write the interviews. And… Well, if you go on her Medium page you will see that there are many, many interesting articles to read.

So, we will start the presentation and then. of course, we’ll have time for questions. And we’ll answer as many questions as they are. Just write them in the chats or in the Q&A little chat box you have down there. And we will answer them all. And of course, I will check the chat so if anything goes wrong just tell me and I’ll check what I can do about it. Okay! So, Yael, it’s all yours.

Yael: Thank you! Thank you so much for having me. I’m sorry that you all can’t see me but, in a moment, I’ll at least show you a picture. But, thank you for your kind words. I don’t know if you know the end of that story. What happened was, I was listening to a podcast where I said, “I wish I was interviewed for this episode.” So, I transcribed the questions that were asked. Filled in my old answers and tweeted at the woman who’s podcasted is Jane Portman of the UI Breakfast. And she actually invited me on after that. And we had a proper episode. So, if you want to do something just go out and do it, basically. That was my takeaway.

All right. So, let’s get started. Hold on, hold on. All right, do you see my screen? Yeah, we’re good?

Isaline: Yes, we can see.

Yael Fantastic! Okay. So, today I’m going to talk about writing two sides of one transaction. You know UX Writing and Content Strategy and Content Design is a very big world and there are a lot of topics. So, we thought that we would go into something a bit more specific. A bit more niche not sort of a microcopy 101 of overview. So, I hope that it’s a new material to a lot of you. And that it’ll give you some added value in your day-to-day work.

So, as promised that’s what I look like even if you can’t see me moving right now. I moved from New York to Israel in 2007. And I’ve been living here ever since. I started my writing career as a journalist. I did a first degree in journalism at New York University before I moved to Israel. But then, I decided I really didn’t want to work as a journalist. I made a pretty sharp pivot and went to grad school after I moved to Israel in neurobiology. And 10 years into lab life, decided I didn’t want to be a scientist. But at that point, I realized that I had really honed two sets of unique skills that I could combine into a career as a UX Writer for complex products. So, I had been writing professionally as a journalist. Learning how to write concisely and things like that. At the same time, I had been working with complex concepts and communicating them to different audiences. So, my thing that I do is really not writing kind of the microcopy you’re used to seeing in Slack or Mailchimp. Those are fantastic gold standards and we can all learn a lot from them. But I prefer to focus on fintech and health products and things like that.

I work at a company called Fundbox. And only for the sake of giving everyone context, for the examples I’m going to bring in this talk, I want to give you a real quick overview so that they’ll make sense.

So, we have a credit, we’re credit and payment solution. Currently, only for businesses in the US. Currently, only in English. And, so we have this payment solution, this payments product which we actually don’t have anymore. In the end, we decided to sunset it. But I’m going to talk about it because it is perfect to demonstrate the topic of writing for two sides of a transaction.

So, we have this product called Fundbox Pay where you would have to B2B products. You had a buyer, so let’s say like, a hat shop, a Mom and Pop Hat Shop, right, Brick and Mortar, Husband & Wife, 50 Hats on the Shelf. And then, they would have a seller who would say be some big Hat Emporium, a factory manufacturer. So, the buyer would order from the seller and then Fundbox would pay the seller. Okay. Because the point of this is to give the buyer extra time to repay. And then the buyer would repay according to terms that we agreed with them. So, the buyer was happy because they didn’t have to pay right away. They could wait until they turned a profit, for example. The seller was happy because they did get paid right away and didn’t have to wait until the buyer was ready to pay. And we were happy because obviously, we’re making fees. But this only works if we can bring both sides to the table, right. So, this product is not a product if we don’t have both buyers and sellers who’s involved.

It’s a problem or a challenge to serve both of these segments which are very different in a lot of ways we’ll get into. We’re in good company. This is not a Fundbox’s a big problem. And I’m sure that a lot of you are here now attending this talk because you have this problem that you work with. You have eBay who not only has to speak to both customers and merchants. They also have B2B and B2C facing UI. And you don’t even need to be in a financial space. The word transaction sounds very financial but even platforms like LinkedIn. If you don’t have both sides of the quote unquote transaction, the job seekers and the recruiters, the product doesn’t have value.

So, I want to focus on a few, just highlight a few challenges and how we went about solving them when you’re trying to write a single product that will bring both sides to the table. So, the first is that different segments have different pain. So, we’re going to talk about right now, the part in the flow where the buyer first makes that order from the seller. The seller’s pain, one of their pains at this point in the flow, is that they need flexibility to adjust the final price. So, Hat Emporium can say, “Well, you know, I think it’s going to cost $10 a hat for a thousand hats. Okay, that’s how much is it.” But we don’t know what the shipping is going to be until we weigh the hats. So, the seller doesn’t want to commit to a price. At the same time, the buyer doesn’t want to feel overcharged. So, right, the seller can’t say, “It’ll cost a thousand dollars plus or minus a thousand dollars.” Right? So, how do we go about solving both of these pain points which are quite at odds with each other.

So, this is a screen from the product where the buyer was authorizing was accepting the fact, that agreeing to the fact that they’re going to pay their seller from their Fundbox account, right, with their Fundbox funds, you could call it. So, Mom and Pop Shop here, Jimmy’s Hats is willing to pay, had wholesalers, $1,150 from their Fundbox credit. And what we did, the way we sort of tried to solve this pain on both sides, is we gave the seller 15% wiggle room that they need. At the same time, we were very explicit to the buyer. First of all, we wrote estimated shipping. It was very important to us to have estimated front loaded and as a separate line item to make it very clear that this could change. And a very transparent about where this number came from by adding the 15%. We went beyond that and added the text below if shipping turns out to be more. We’ll ask for your confirmation before processing payment. So, we wanted to let them know the why are we doing this. It’s for shipping. Then, they’re probably going to be more understanding about why we need this wiggle room. Again, for the sake of transparency and for the sake of showing that we we’re addressing both pains at the same time. And neither comes at the expense of the other.

So, how did we do this? Much more interesting than seeing screens from a product that doesn’t exist is learning how we address the problem so that hopefully you can take that into your work. The first thing is to research the offline flow. How is this problem currently being handled offline? Because these transactions that are happening within the Fundbox app were already happening before apps were a thing. So, what is the way that it’s being handled? And then, understand the out-of-product conversation. Not only what is the flow offline but what is the conversation around the flow? When the buyers and the sellers are talking on the phone or in person or whatever it is, what are the words they’re using to describe this wiggle room? And use that common context as an anchor. Okay. Whatever that common space is between the buyer and the seller. Start there. That’s your springboard. But then workshop language that’s right for your product.

And what happened to us is we realized that when we were adjusting to our product, we couldn’t talk about shipping anymore because there were that shipping was a common context for Jimmy’s Hats and the Hat Emporium. But it didn’t work, for example, for a butcher who was going to sell meat. And their issue wasn’t the shipping, right. When you go to buy fresh meat from a butcher and you say, “I want one kilo.” They say, “Okay, well, one kilo costs a hundred dollars.” Or whatever it is. And then they weigh it to get an exact, exact number. Because it’s not going to come out one kilo. It’s probably going to come out like 1.155, right? So, we needed to change estimated shipping to something that would work for all of our Fundbox customers.

And what I’m showing you know on the screen, I jumped again a little bit. But what you’re seeing now are real iterations that we went through as a team. So, I’ll give you one second to think what you might have chosen or something else that’s not here, of course. And I’ll just give you some food for thought while you’re thinking about what you might have used. I want to say that basically, overage, you could argue, is the correct answer. You could say that objectively, everything I’ve been describing to this point is the definition of overage. However, our users never say that. And so, we will never say that. All right, we went with ‘reserved for adjustments’.

And that’s how this screen ended up looking. We changed estimated shipping to reserve for adjustments. And we also changed the text below. Now, what we did is we made it more general but we kept the word shipping in there. You can see as an example. Because you end up in a very difficult situation at this point where if we’re too specific, like it’s only for shipping. So the meatpacker will feel that this is not relevant for him. And if we don’t mention any examples, it could come off so general that nobody knows what we’re talking about. So, this was our approach.

In addition, different segments have use different terminology a lot of the time. So now, let’s talk about the part in the flow where the buyer has already ordered from the seller. And Fundbox is going to go ahead and pay the seller. So, at that point, the seller, before they agree to accept the Fundbox payment method, want to know that that buyer actually has enough Fundbox funds for this, right. It’s like making sure you have enough credit on your credit card which is called ‘authorize and capture’ in a lot of industries. And an example of authorize and capture even if you’ve never heard the term, I’m sure you’ve had the experience. Because when you check into a hotel, that’s what they do with your credit card. They authorize your card. They run your card, just in case you’re going to, you know, clean out the mini bar to make sure there are funds there. But they don’t actually capture. They don’t actually take your money at that point. But buyers were not familiar with this terminology.

Okay, so how did we approach the challenge? First, pretend that there is no real world and focus on accuracy. If I could rename authorize and capture anything I wanted to that I thought was extremely descriptive, what would I use? And then, research conventions because I can’t use a word that means something in a certain context. So, context is important but it’s also important to start by breaking out of it to make sure you’re not missing any creative options. And speak to industry experts. So, as the UX Writers or the Product Writers, all of us, we are meant to be experts in user experience and we’re meant to be experts in writing. But we’re not necessarily experts in the industry that our product is, for example at Fundbox, fintech.

So, you need to speak to experts who can shed light on nuances. For example, they’ll say, “Oh, well, I see why you want to call it that but, in the industry, in the biz, that means something or that has a connotation that you don’t want.” And use as many words as you, well, as your users need. So, you’ll notice that in one of my previous examples, the paragraph that I showed where we described the estimated shipping. That was a pretty big paragraph and you read a lot about concise being a golden rule of thumb. And, I argue and actually have a blog post arguing, that that’s very much not true a lot of the time. So, you’re not helping out your user if you are being stingy with words and then leaving them guessing.

And check out what other products use because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You just need to adapt it to your car, meaning, I’m not saying to copy your competitors but start with the basics. What exists? What’s already out there? And then, debate which parts of that work for your product and which parts don’t.

After checking what other products use in order to avoid reinventing the wheel, understand the out-of-product conversation. Again, how are these users talking to each other today outside of your app because they are? We don’t want to educate the user. We want to learn from them. So, if they have some common language that is unintuitive to you as the writer, that doesn’t mean it’s unintuitive. That is not a reason not to use it. So, learn from them. How do they talk about these transactions? And, you should talk like them, not the other way around.

This is just a quick example I wanted to bring from a Google Doc I was working on at work. Real screenshot from a conversation I was having with. She’s now a Product Manager. But she’s basically like, the number one user expert at our company. She has been there so many years in an every sort of user facing role. Really the expert on talking to users, all day every day. And we were talking about the term ‘file for bankruptcy’ and I didn’t feel that it was intuitive enough or specific enough or whatever it is. And I’m busy making my case UX writing wise why we shouldn’t call this button or whatever it was, ‘file for bankruptcy’. And she writes back, “The term ‘file for bankruptcy’ is what customers say.” And that was it. That shut down the conversation. I was like, “Okay.” I have nothing. There’s no best practice. There’s no rule of thumb. I have nothing I can come back and say, “No heuristic.” If that’s what they say, that’s what I’m going to say.

So, back to our often capture situation. What could we say instead? So, here’s again, a list of real iterations that we went through. You want to take a second and write down what you think we should have gone with. And then I will reveal the answer. ‘Authorize and process payment’ And I don’t know if I let it slip before the hint that ‘capture’ was what was more foreign to buyers. ‘Authorize’, they were relatively comfortable with. And when we asked people what they think of when we say ‘process payment’, 100% of them immediately said swiping a credit card which is perfect. Because that’s exactly what we want the user to visualize. We want them to know that at the touch points where we say ‘process payment’ we mean, money disappear from your account. They need to realize that it’s that final.

So, here’s an example of a screen that the buyer sees. And they’re being told that, “Okay, if you go ahead with this then the seller is going to authorize $20.20 of your Fundbox money.” Okay, but they’re just authorizing it. Your net terms, that period that they have to repay Fundbox will not begin until payment is processed, right. So, only at capture. So, the time that, the clock doesn’t start ticking on when you need to pay Fundbox back, when the seller checks if you have money. It’s only when they actually take the money and this seemed to work.

Okay, bonus challenge whereas we’ve been talking about how these two segments of buyers and sellers use different terminology but sometimes there are segments within segments. So, I keep using the term ‘net terms’, right? And, we at some point, the name of Fundbox Pay turned into net terms product. We stopped calling it ‘pay’. And we really at our core, the net terms economy was the problem we were blogging about and this is what we were coming to solve and how we were positioning ourselves in the market until we realized that we had sellers who don’t call net terms, ‘net terms’. Some of them called this paradigm ‘trade credit’. Some of them call it a ‘deposit’. So, we would do user interviews and there were sellers who would say, “I don’t offer net terms. I’m not going to offer net terms. I do deposits.” Well, what’s a deposit? The buyer pays me 10% up front and 90% is 30 days later. Well, that’s basically a very slightly lower risk version of net 30 terms, right?

So, what did we do? Now, this is an example granted not from the product. It’s from marketing materials. But I think it demonstrates the point really well, so I hope you will allow it. We had a page on the website where sellers would sign up to accept this payment method, right. So, just like they accept Visa and checks and now, we also allow you to pay with Fundbox. And so, we wrote I’m a merchant who wants to offer access to net terms. Give your customers time to pay for their purchases while you get paid right away. So, the balance we struck here between segments who use the term ‘net terms’ and don’t is we said net terms. But then we described it below in a way that if you do use ‘net terms’, you don’t feel like we’re over explaining. But if you don’t use the term ‘net terms’ after reading that subtitle, you do understand exactly what we’re talking about.

All right, last challenge, ‘No-one-size-fits-all’. Sometimes, you’re not able to use the methodologies I’ve showed you to come up with language that will work. And why do I say all, that will work for all and not work for both? Because there could be more than two players. Again, segments are complicated. Not only might you have segments within segments but you might have more than two segments even though you only have two sides of the transaction. And here’s exactly what I mean by that. Let’s talk about the flow high level, right. Buy your orders from seller, Fundbox pays, buyer pays back Fundbox. But what if an agent is ordering from the seller on the buyer’s behalf.

So, what happens is the buyer wants to- If the agent wants to order something for the buyer, they can’t pay. Just like they don’t have the buyer’s credit card. The agent doesn’t have the buyer’s credit card in their pocket, right. They also don’t have the Fundbox credentials. So, we do need to solve this because the seller wants the exposure of third-parties. And the buyer wants the convenience of outsourcing some of their buying to third-parties. And the agent wants a job. So, what we did is we added the strip at the bottom, ‘Are you an agent? Send a remote request.’ And that would allow the agent to proceed in the flow and to place the order without needing to log into the account. And separately, the buyer would get a notification, “Hey, your agent placed an order is going to cost $10,000. They said you want to pay for it with Fundbox. Is that true?” But it then got more complicated as it tends to. And we found out that this third-party is not always an agent There are a huge slew of varied use cases and we needed to accommodate all of them. Sorry one sec, I’m going to drink some water. You can’t see me but hold on.

All right, so this was a very interesting exercise because we, you know, broke our teeth for a long time trying to think what synonym can we use for agent, right. We don’t want to say, ‘Are you an agent? Click here.’ So, what could we say? And in the end, we realized that it wasn’t right to talk about, who should click? It was right to talk about, why they would click? Who is looking the- What is the job to be done here? What is the purpose that the person who clicks this is trying to complete, right? So, it’s ordering for someone else. That’s what’s in common. Every single person who’s going to click this, every third party is ordering from someone else. I don’t need to call them out by name. I don’t want to say, ‘Are you an agent?’ ‘Are you the secretary?’ I don’t need to ask who they are. All I need to know is what are they trying to do. Are you ordering for someone else? Ask them to approve this payment method.

Now, here is an even bigger situation where we don’t just have, you know, I just threw in an agent and then I said, “No, no. The agent is any third-party.” And this is even broader of set of audiences that I need to accommodate in a single UI. Because what this is, is this or was at the time that I took the screenshot, our Help Center. And we have sellers who come here wanting answers. Buyers who come here wanting answers, credit product users. Remember this is a payment product that I’ve been discussing. But from Fundbox’s main product, the one that we didn’t sunset that work, that really isn’t our flagship product is credit. It’s not payments. And all of these different people are coming. In addition to partners and many other segments. So, the first thing we did was inventory our resources. Meaning primarily, by resources, I mean engineering bandwidth because you can solve any problem a lot of different ways. And one of the main questions to ask yourself is how expensive you’re willing, like, how much are you willing to spend in solving this problem? And we could have done all kinds of fancy development around solving this problem by figuring, like, I just somehow identifying behind the scenes, you know. Who the user is or where they’re coming from? Which landing page? What are they probably most interested in based on certain ad campaigns they’ve received or if they’re a logged in user? Or, you know, a million other things. We could have even done something relatively simple which is add filters. We didn’t even do that because in the end of the day the business decision was, we’re going to solve this problem with microcopy alone. We’re only going to use copy. It’s super cheap and that’s what we’re willing to invest at this point.

So, that having been decided, the first thing we did was say, “Okay, how do we draw the right users and quickly? How do we make sure that the users get into the sections they need?” So, here we titled this, ‘Getting net terms’. So, we’re hoping that the buyers will say, “Oh, I wanted to get net terms.” And jump in there. And offering net terms we’re hoping that the sellers will say, “Well yeah, I’m trying to offer net terms just through Fundbox so I don’t have to take on the risk.” Right, because what’s the risk, if a buyer doesn’t repay. “I got my money up front from Fundbox. They don’t repay Fundbox that’s not any of my problem, that’s not my problem.” But it doesn’t always work, right. Users aren’t always going to get drawn into the right place.

So, the next level was to get the wrong users back out. So, we added this sentence or a version of the sentence to most of the articles over 100 articles, almost 200 articles, I think, in this Help Center. ‘We offer two services, a revolving line of credit and net terms. This article applies to…’ Okay, and that way we hoped that if someone didn’t find the tile they should have gone into, at least they quickly realized they had to get back out. And don’t… And, we don’t waste their time. I don’t want them to sit here reading 200 words before they realize that that did not contribute any value to their engagement with our product.

Okay, your turn. The most important part of the talk, hands down, is how you take this home with you. So, when you are writing a product with multiple segments, what do you need to do? What do you need to identify? How do you start? First, look for shared content. Before you get down into wordsmithing, what information is interesting to both sides? And then, what’s the shared voice? You might talk one way to this, you know, Mom and Pop Shop owners and you might talk more formally or more sophisticated or more somehow different if you’re speaking to the CEO of the Hat Emporium. But there has to be a middle ground. Something that will resonate with both sides. Because if you alienate either side because your voice is so right for the other side, you won’t bring both sides to the table. And what shared terminology do they have? Identify the words that they’re already using. And, before like I said, I think of it as a joke, as an inside joke. Get in on their inside joke. Use whatever language intuitive to them even if for you, it isn’t a convention because you need them to understand each other and you need them to understand you. That’s the goal, right? And when you need to, you need to maintain multiple versions that, you know, just like with our knowledge base we ended up not being able to write one thing that works for everyone. You need to identify when that’s worth it.

How? So, in all of my talks, I like to include this little camera icon on the screen that I think, “Okay, just take a screenshot of this.” Or in person I always say to you, “Just take out your phone. This is the only slide you need.” I know the talk’s being recorded and you’ll have access to it later but if this is all you take away then, I will consider that a smashing a success. These are the method. I’m not going to read through this because these are the methodologies that we talked about throughout each section. The only ones I’ve added here are, to workshop with product, too. I know there’s a lot of talk about how important it is to connect with and collaborate with as product writers with marketing writers. And that is true. That is absolutely true for a number of reasons. Right, you don’t want to have a personality disorder from a prospective user. They hear you speak one way in the marketing materials then they jump into the product and you sound completely different, like, that would be bad. So, of course we need to work closely with marketing. But remember that your product managers, they are much more tuned into the business goals. They’re the ones who can really… clarify for you, what is the aim of this feature? What do we need the user to do? What do we need the user to know? Because at the end of the day, your product is a business. And… And that’s okay. Yeah, that’s good. It’s not a bad thing to be at business because if otherwise you’re not sustainable and then your users can’t use you. So, make sure you are collaborating closely with the product team, also when you’re writing copy.

And the other is the invaluable input from user facing teams. So, we’d all know about A/B testing and you know quantitative research methods and qualitative usage methods that include the UserTesting.com and interviews and surveys and everything else. But don’t forget your user-facing teams. Just like I showed you that Google comment from Sharon. Your sales team, your support team, you know, you might be a user experience expert but they are the user expert. They are all day every day interacting with users, speaking the user’s language, hearing the user’s questions, and pain points. And they are also much more available to you than the users. When we were still working in the office, I would pop next door to the support team all the time. And show them an email I was working on or listen in on a call they were answering. So, just really tap into that resource. It’s a goldmine.

And that’s everything I brought to share with you today. You can find me online. The best place is Twitter. But, yeah, I hope that was a good talk for you and that if you have any questions, we don’t get to know that we’ll be able to follow up afterwards.


Hey, thanks a lot for the talk. That was awesome! And… As we wait to see if there are a few questions, I have one already. So… You have three different types of partners when you’re writing like the product team, the marketing team, sales team. Actually, four because the users. But can you dive a little bit deeper into user usability testing. When did you do it? What would you recommend? I see actually, that we had that question also. So, can you just elaborate a little bit about—

Yael: On usability testing?

Isaline: Yes.

Yael: So, I will say that… If… The key richer… …filling that then the writer. I’m not that lucky. I don’t have a researcher on my team but in my team that and a number of companies where I’ve worked at that’s really been the domain of the designer more than the writer. When I do get to work on usability testing, I would say you, mostly would use UserTesting.com. And we’re able to show different mocks and different experiences to the user and ask questions like, where do you think this button is about to go before you click on it? And, you know, no button text should ever be a surprise. I mean, I don’t want to say ever. Maybe if that’s a gimmick your product is using. But in general, in a financial product, you don’t want to be like, “Surprise! You just check out a $400 loan.” So, we can do that. UserTesting, of course, has its cons as well but I would say that that’s the main tool I use as the writer.

Isaline: And which step in your process would you do it? Like you said, that’s very first ideas or you start writing a little bit and test later or…

Yael: No, I mean, I would say there are just so many stakeholders in most of what I write. There are so many people’s opinions who you need to get. And not just opinions because “You know what, you want to respect egos.” That’s not what I mean. Opinions because just like I mentioned that marketing knows a lot about the acquisition channels and the context where we’re drawing in the users whereas product knows a lot about the business pains that we’re trying- You know, business goals we’re trying to reach and the developer knows, “Well, actually, maybe if you write the string this way then it’ll save us three days of coding.” which is, of course, really important. You know, I often talk about the ROI of all of this work that we do as writers. And if the developer says, “I can save you three days of coding if you reword this so it doesn’t have a variable in it.” Well, you know, that’s going to contribute to your microcopy’s ROI.

So, I would say that you definitely are not going to be testing the first or second or fourth iteration. And depending on how big the feature is and how much of a time crunch you’re working under. You may not test it until it’s already out. Oh, I’ll tell you another tool. It’s not exactly usability testing but it flags where we may need to do testing, is called FullStory. I don’t know if everyone has heard of it. But FullStory, it’s a very big brother but don’t worry you consent to it before anyone uses it in those terms of use nobody reads. But it basically is a screen recording. And so, we’re able to watch user sessions. All we see is the screen. We can’t see any private credentials, like, if they log into their bank account. We can’t record that part. And what it allows us to do so we can filter, so for example, there’s a filter called, rage click. So, we can filter and come up with the recordings of sessions where users were like, you know, clicking a button like 15 times in a row. “Why isn’t this working? Why isn’t this working?” And that has actually highlighted some good usability issues, copy issues where the error wasn’t, like they’re filling in a form and then, the button is disabled because they have an error in the form. And we haven’t done a good enough job explaining what the error is. So, they don’t understand there’s an error. And so, they don’t know what to fix. So, they just keep rage clicking on the disabled button.

So, I would say FullStory is a great tool for understanding, “Okay, hold on this is a touch point that users are getting stuck on. How can we describe it better?”

Isaline: And so, did you write two different tone advice guides for the two different types of audience or do you have everything in your head or how do you communicate with your team the need to speak differently?

Yael: That’s a really important question. So, I would say that actually, the challenge is to maintain a single voice and tone guide. Because if you have two voices, so you look like you have a split personality. So, we need to form ourselves into someone who has one voice that both the buyers and the sellers want to be in conversation with. So, it’s a huge challenge to create. But once you create it, I think, it’s really important to be consistent with it. And yes, so we have one which we created as just a document. We’re looking at ways to make that more shareable and organized like whether it’s going to be a confluence page, or a website, or whatever it’s going to be in the end. But right now, it’s a work in progress in just a Google Doc. And you include, I would say, as many examples as possible because a lot of us, as writers will write down guidelines that make sense to us. But if you want this to work, you need to get your sales team to use it in their emails. And you need your support team to use it when they’re writing frequently asked questions. And you need your exec team to use it. You need everyone to use it. And so, the more examples, concrete specific screenshots you can bring of how to implement your guidelines, so that’s really helpful. And definitely, I would say education. like distribution is a thing. You can’t just create a style guide and then like send the company a link to it and never talk about it again. So, you have workshops. You have- You know, and people love it. Like, it’s fun to do this even if you are, even or maybe especially if you’re being a writer is not your daily job. They love playing with this and learning about it. And then everyone feels ownership over it. I’ll never forget one of my biggest successes, I think, was when a developer came up to me and said, “Hey, I found an ampersand in our UI and I know you don’t allow those because it goes against readability guidelines.” So, I changed it on my own accord and I was glowing and I said, “Okay, I’ve done something right because through my evangelism for accessibility and readability, a developer is, you know, correcting microcopy and this is fantastic!

Isaline: Yeah! That made your day, I can imagine.

Yael: Oh, yeah!

Isaline: So, I see we have a question in the Q&A which is from Korap. And she’s saying, Are you the only UX Writer in your team? And if you are, who are your most important co-workers in your daily business?

Yael: So, yes, I am. And I would say, number one are the designers. So, I work, well back when we worked in the office, I worked in the same office with the designers. And… In my opinion, like, that has got to be that way. Like, if you don’t sit physically next to your designers or ones who were physically sitting next to anyone, you should. And you should, you know, really advocate for that in your company. It makes a huge difference. In the company before that, I sat with the other writers who… In my previous company, I was also the only UX Writer. So, to sit with other writers meant, I was sitting with marketing writers. And… At the time, I thought it was great because I was like, “Yay! I’m with my people. I’m with my guild. I love talking about grammar and sending each other memes about semicolons. This is fantastic!”

But then, I went to my next company where I was sat with the UX team, with the writers, -and hopefully we’ll get a researcher, and with the designers, and it’s just a whole different world. The collaboration is smoother and faster and the communication is better. And it’s definitely, also better for… Making sure that I’m not giving containers to fill. Right, there’s no such thing as ‘lorem ipsum’ at our company and there shouldn’t be at any company. And when you sit next to them it’s much more frictionless to be able to say, “Hey, I see you’re about to design this container here and that container there. But I don’t have that much to say over here and I don’t want to fill the box just because it’s there. And at the same time, where you have a paragraph, it would be much easier for the user to digest the particular message I want to get across if you would give me bullets instead.” And that sort of back and forth. It’s just much easier when you’re sitting together. And then… After that product managers. -inaudible- For scope, for guidance, for, you know, they would probably be my number one like, “Okay, you brief me. Explain the feature. You explain how much deb we can dedicate to it.” And now, I’ll go write with it and then I come back and say, “Is this what you meant? Did I understand you?” Etcetera. So, for sure those would be the top two. I spend most of my time talking to the designers and the product managers.

Isaline: Thank you for the answer. And, I think we have another question from Pehchan. How long does it take to get to the final iteration? For example, from ‘Are you an agent?’ to ordering for someone else. Like, what is the time lapse?

Yael: Am I freezing? You’re occasionally freezing. Can you hear me okay?

Isaline: Yeah, I think it’s fine. Did you get the questions?

Yael: Okay, good! Yeah, yeah, I heard you. So… The question was the timeline. So, the answer is as much time as you have. As a writer, as a creative in general, I think we can all agree that we feel that our work is never done. And, I could iterate on the word ‘agent’ until I’m, you know, old and gray. So… That it just, I stop when the product manager says, “I need to put this in production now. You need to stop.” That’s how long it takes. I guess, a more sophisticated answer to that question would be, when do you stop going back to things that are live in production and updating them? So, a lot of times what we do is I’ll say, “Okay look, this is the best I can get you by the time you need to push this out. But I think, it still needs work and we’ll do that as phase two because I’m not going to hold up the entire feature because I don’t like the word ‘agent’.”

And sometimes, you will go back and make subsequent updates to live copy. And sometimes, you won’t. It’s really case-by-case basis. But how long does it take to get to that final iteration? I mean, I try to get to a point where all stakeholders are on board. But again, even that, you’re not going always. You won’t have consensus which is why it’s really important to have in your process predefined reviewer, approver. Right, everyone’s role needs to be defined. So, who needs to agree for this to go live? And who needs to simply be notified of the decisions that have been made? And then who needs to have an opportunity to give feedback even if it’s not included? I would say that all helps you get it out in whatever time you have.

Isaline: So, it’s a balance between feedback and iteration and just having to send the project to production.

Yael: Yeah, yeah. Definitely.

Isaline: Oh, I see we have two questions from Annie and Pehchan about the guide we talked about before. And they are asking, how long did it take to evangelize the team? I mean, how long before that developer corrected the new branding? Do we have to think about months or years? Or…

Yael: Forever! It never ends! And I would say the reason for that, if nothing else, is because there’s turnover in the team, right? So, that developer who means so much to me and always will, so he’s not in my company anymore which means someone’s taking his place and now I have to evangelize them. So, I would say, there’s two layers to doing this. One is the formal channels of making sure that the guide is documented. That it’s clear. That new employees who are going through their onboarding process are given access to this documentation and are given a description that it’s built into the when you come to work at this company. You get a laptop. You get antivirus software. You get access to one password. “Oh, and here’s the voice guide. Read it. Love it.” So, that’s important.

So, there’s the formal sort of make sure it’s documented. Make sure people have access to it. Make sure that if you can, there are live distribution channels, meaning actual workshops. You know, once a quarter or if you can, meet with a couple of teams even if it’s like just sales and support this time. And just, you know, I gave a talk to the whole design and product departments. And, it made things so much easier after that because it was a smaller forum but also sort of formal. So, people felt peer pressure to show up. And, it really helped and they were able to ask live questions because a lot of people aren’t going to read that documentation. And, it really added color and, you know, another dimension to why this is important and things like that. So, that really helped.

But of course, you know, more effective than probably all of that combined, is the informal. It’s the, you know, being nice to people. Making people like you and the work you do and helping them understand why the work you do is important for the work they do. And… You know, we had this huge rebrand. And there was so much coffee-work to be done. And we had to, I rewrote something like 200 emails and developers hate working on email. I was like it’s so boring for senior developers to all day long be, you know, testing new emails. And so, I brought the muffins one day. And, I can’t tell you like, how much that meant just like, “Okay, we’re all in this together.”, kind of feeling. So, yeah, I would say, it’s a combination of all of those things and it never ever ends.


Yeah, I hear here that it’s a lot about relations and you getting out there and talking to people and just like the coffee moment is as important as having the guide available, right?

Yael: Absolutely! It probably more. The relationships are, I mean, the relationships are the key to any successful collaboration. More than process which is also necessary but insufficient in my opinion.

Isaline: Yeah! So, Pehchan, I think, we gave you the answer to drink many, many coffees. Well, as you might be difficult at the moment if everybody is in a home office, this feeling of collaboration is might be more difficult to have. But I think you can do it. Do we have any more questions? We have thank-yous. And that’s always nice to hear. While we wait, if anyone’s writing a question, I’m going to share with you a link to survey I created for you to tell me about the schedule, about the meetup, and the days, and the subjects so I can organize them at the right time and I can carry on looking for speakers. So, please answer the survey. It’s going to help me very much to organize the next meetup. And let me check if while I was talking- Oh, yeah. While I was talking, someone was typing. I knew that. So, we have Kyle asking, what sort of metrics to use to judge the success of the UX Writing?

Yael: It’s a very good question. I do give a lot of talks about ROI. So, I very much uh believe in measuring everything you can to really… I don’t want to say justify. That sounds very defensive. But to really evangelize for why the work that we do is important. And… The metrics, I want to- I can’t answer that question in a vacuum. I can’t say, “Oh, as a writer, what I check is do people click on my words?” No. I would really work together with the product manager to define the goals of the copy. So, it could be that the goal of a certain button is to get people to click it. Great! That’s easy to measure. Did people click it more or less when I changed the word to this? But a lot of times, the question is we have, the goal (excuse me). The goal of the copy is to lower support tickets. Right, we want to preempt questions that are getting asked to support because that’s a huge, I don’t want to say wasted resource, but it’s a- Usually, if you have human support teams, you can save money there by streamlining and automating the most frequently asked questions. And I, 100% believe in having people, of course, but you want to make sure that people are there for the situations that can’t be preempted. And a lot of times in the product, I am able to preempt questions. So…

For example, we had a… Some field they had to type in and we thought that they wouldn’t know where to find the piece of information we were looking for. So, there was a tool tip and if you clicked on the tool tip, it would give you more information about how to find the, what you were supposed to fill in. Right, something like, “Oh, your routing number.” And people said, “Well, I don’t know where my routing number is so I guess I’m just going to drop off this flow and not complete it.” So, we would have a tool clip that said, “You know, you can find your routing number on your checks.” Or something like that. And people weren’t clicking on the tooltip and people were calling support. And that seems like a silly thing like, we’re wasting all of these support tickets on a question that we could have so easily answered in the product. So, all we did was take that string out of a tooltip and just so it wasn’t behind a click anymore. Put it on the screen. Take away the icon of the tooltip and just put the words next to the input field. And support tickets dropped on that topic.

So, what’s the metric? Well, it completely depends on your goal. Is your goal to lower support tickets? That’s your metric. Did that question get asked less? Is your goal to get people to click on a button more or less? Then, that’s your metric. And more times than not, you’re going to get this information from the product manager who is in charge of the particular feature. Because the end of the day, it all comes back to business goals. So, they’re not going to give you a metric of people click on button. Right, there’s a bigger goal there. I mean, that might be the metric but there’s a bigger goal which is really important to understand because it really gives us the opportunity as UX Writers to play a more strategic role.

So, if they say, you know, “The goal here is to get users to draw funds from their credit line. So, what I want your metric to be is do they click on the button that says ‘Draw’? So, should that button say ‘Draw’? Should it say ‘Review and Draw’? Should it say ‘Draw Now’? You figure out a writer what to write on the button but I’m telling you that I’m measuring you based on whether people click on it because my business goal is for people to draw funds.” And then, the UX Writer can come in and say, “I hear what you’re saying but that might not be the right metric to reach your goal. So, it might be that, I don’t want to get more people to click on this button. What I want them to do is enter larger amounts before they click on the button. I don’t want them to run and click ‘Draw’ after they typed in, they’re only going to take $100 from their account. I want to work on the microcopy that gets them to take a thousand dollars from their account. And that’s where our metrics should be.”

So, the metric is definitely goal-based and I would say definitely, you get an opinion as the writer. You’re not just the wordsmith. You’re not just there to say, “Oh, they want my metric to be button clicks. I will write button quick copy.” Definitely, get your hand in there on the strategic level as well.

Isaline: Thanks for the answer. I see we have another question about the voice in tone workshops. When is the right moment to- How do you feel that it’s the right moment to organize such a workshop? Like, because you want people to be in a mindset that they are available to listen to you. And so, how do you choose, how do you pick your moments and how long do you plan like, 30 minutes workshop at the midday break or how do you create that atmosphere?

Yael: That’s a good question, I haven’t really thought about. Let’s see. Let’s be make it up. No, here’s what I would say. First of all, when always, you always want to be doing this. If you can get your company to let you do it every quarter, that’s awesome. If you can’t, if you can only do it once a year, do it once a year. As frequently as possible and that might need different audiences or if you have the same audience it could be different material. So, it could be one time you have a lecture that’s really high level. And then the next time you meet with the same department. You do a really a hands-on workshop where you dive into some specific area like, I worked with, I don’t remember which team it was, but we dove into tone maps. Tone mapping, right, because voice is the personality. It’s who you are as a product but tone is how you adjust how you sound to this situation, right? So, it’s a really fun exercise. If you haven’t do it. Done it. I recommend you do it yourself. I like really, we’ll do this for fun because I’m that cool.

But I’ll sit and say, “Okay, let’s write the wrong tone on purpose.” So, what does that mean? It means without having a personality disorder, without sounding like somebody else. I need to stay within my guidelines for my company’s voice, I’m now going to write an error message that is very cheerful. And that right, that shouldn’t be. Right, that’s the wrong tone. Now, I’m going to write an email that says, “Yay, you’ve been approved for credit. You can start getting funds.” But I’m going to write it like, really sympathetic. Like, “Oh, we just wanted to let you know in case you were wondering. If nothing great’s going on right now, you were approved for funds. You have access to twenty thousand dollars. I’m sorry it’s not more.” Right, that’s not how we’re going to write it. So, that’s a really fun exercise I’ve done with departments. And they just after a hands-on experience, they walk away with such a better understanding of what we mean than giving them a high-level definition.

So, I guess I would say, as frequently as possible. It can sometimes be, you know, lectures. It can sometimes be exercises. It can be with the same group again and again as long as you dive deeper each time. It could be with different groups each time and always bring snacks. That helps for sure. The last time I gave a lecture in our company, we actually branded it, ‘Coffee and copy’ And the HR department brought in big trays of iced coffees and the snacks always help.

Isaline: That sounds nice! But I can see that the playful way of using example really must be really helping. So, I really like this idea of writing the wrong copy as example. So, we are at the end of our webinar. Of course, if you have any more questions, you can either contact directly Yael or me. And please, please fill the form because I would like to start trying different formats. Not this webinar where I can’t see you. I’m a bit, I mean it’s awesome but I would like to have something more collaborative. So, I’m very interested of your insights. So, answer the form and say, especially what doesn’t work. That’s very good feedback about what we can change. And…

And thank you for being here. And thank you especially to Yael for, thank you for sharing your time because honestly, that’s the best way to learn. I mean, being able to just listen to you and ask questions, that was really awesome. A really good moment for you, for me.

Yael: Thank you so much for having me. Really, like this is great. I love hearing the questions people have and especially when you say that in Switzerland that it’s not as developed of field. It’s really an awesome opportunity when I speak in different, you know, quote unquote locations, like this online. To hear what are different communities struggling with and how can we collaborate and help each other not make the same mistakes. You know, learn from others and it’s really great what you’re doing. And, thank you for doing it and for having me be a part of it.

Isaline: Yeah! Thanks a lot! I think you helped us a lot. And that’s great. And I think you could also share more if you have in the next article. I would love to hear if you do some things that are more than one language. That’s always a really big topic for us here. And well. Oh yeah! The last thing, I wanted to tell you is there will be the video of the webinar that I will publish on YouTube. But first I’m going to do a transcription so you will have the subtitles and the transcription available to make sure that the talk and the information can be really accessible to everybody. So, I will need a few days probably to complete that. But obviously, I will send you an email with the links once I’m done. So, I’ll keep you posted. Right, that’s it! Thanks a lot everyone!

Yael: Thank you! Thanks everyone for coming.

Isaline: And see you very soon.

Yael: Bye!

Isaline: Bye!