UX Writing
UX Writing
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Guiding principles

Guiding Principles

1. We use natural language and speak directly to the customer

We use natural, non-technical language that mirrors how our customers actually talk. Not sure how they talk? Do a CS rotation, observe usability research, look at customer questions, etc.

Don’t: View and save your receipt by downloading the PDF version below. [Download receipt]

Do: [See your receipt]

 

Don’t: Email addresses do not match

Do: Email addresses don’t match

 

We refer to UI elements using plain language, not feature names. 

This is especially important for button labels and CTAs. What action can I take here? 

Don’t: WiFi Toggle

Do: Turn on WiFi

We structure messages so they're about the customer, not about the company or product features.

 The only exception to this is for help content or CS emails where we are actively looking into something on the customer’s behalf.

Don’t: The booking assistant lets you check availability.

Don’t: We created this feature so you can book a tour.

Do: To check availability, choose a date.

 

We focus on the customer's objective and help them accomplish their task.

Customer tasks aren't just limited to adding to cart and checking out. Tasks include contacting CS, cancelling a booking, or sharing an activity. We structure instructions so the desired outcome is the first thing customers read. 

Don’t: The filter feature on the right will help you narrow your search.

Don’t: Never fear, dear customer. We’ve got your back, so we built the filters on the right to help narrow your search!

Do: To narrow your search, use the filters on the right.

We use second-person pronouns (you/your) to speak directly to the customer.

We don’t use first-person pronouns (I, me) and speak for them. The only exception to this is for some Help content, or legally required opt-in messages (like, "I agree to the Terms and Conditions.")

Don't: Manage my booking

Do: Manage your booking

Pro tip: Button labels and headings should start with a verb so it’s clear what people are supposed to do. Try the WYSIWYG test: button labels should answer both “Would you like to [button text]? And “I would like to [button text]”

 

2. We cut any word that doesn't serve a purpose.

This is essential for mobile-first products. It also helps with readability, translation, comprehension, and accessibility. Does removing a word change the meaning of your sentence? No? Cut it.

Do: Enter your email (Depending on the design of the page, even just “Email” could be fine.)

Don’t: Kindly enter your preferred email address in the form field

 

That said, we don’t sacrifice clarity or natural language for brevity.

We keep it short without sounding like robots.

Don’t: Enter destination

Do: Where are you going?

We prioritize clarity over personality (for now).

Once our brand identity is established, we can test language more specific to our company identity and voice, even if it makes our text a bit longer. (Are we witty? Funny? Informative?) But until we know what that identity is, we write for clarity and comprehension only.

 

3. We use global English and write for translation.

Our customers are travelers from all over the world with diverse language needs and levels of reading comprehension in English. We keep our English content short and clear so it's easy to translate into other languages and easy to understand in English.

 

We start bullets and lists with the same part of speech, and aim to structure each line in the same way.

Not parallel:

  • See the Mona Lisa
  • Your guide will meet you at the Louvre
  • Eiffel Tower visit included

Is parallel:

  • See the Mona Lisa
  • Meet your guide at the Louvre
  • Visit the Eiffel Tower

We avoid concatenating strings or using variables in running text.

Chopping a sentence into multiple strings and using variables in running text can cause grammatical problems in translation. If you need to use a variable, find a way to isolate it in the way you structure your text.

Don’t: Transport by [VEHICLE] from [LOCATION] to [LOCATION] and back.

Do: Go by: [transport type]

      Roundtrip from: [location]

 

We break long sentences into simple chunks and frontload the most important message at the start of the sentence.

This not only helps make translation more straightforward, but also makes your content easier to skim and understand at a glance. 

Don’t: It seems that you entered a password that isn’t right or that doesn’t match the email address you provided.

Do: Wrong password [Try again] [Forgot your password?]

We avoid using passive voice and gerunds (-ing verbs). 

These don’t translate well and imply a different nuance in some languages.

Don’t: Continue searching

Do: Continue to search

 

Don’t: You can be dropped off at your hotel after the tour.

Do: The tour company can drop you off at your hotel after the tour.

 

We use consistent terminology, so it’s clear what we’re referring to.

This also goes for spelling, and we keep our wording as consistent as possible to facilitate skimming. We are working on a terminology list to help us do this.

Don’t: You will need your reference number. The booking number can be found on your voucher.

Do: You’ll need the booking number found on your voucher.

 

4. We keep it positive.

We use language that’s optimistic and helps customers feel good about using GetYourGuide.

Don’t: You can’t add more than 99 activities to your cart

Do: You can add up to 99 activities to your cart

 

We avoid blaming customers when something goes wrong.

Error messages like these are the only time it’s okay to use passive voice. We use "Close” instead of “OK” when we need customers to acknowledge that an error occurred.

Don’t: You entered an invalid payment method [OK]

Do: The payment method you entered is invalid [Close]

 

Don’t: You selected an activity that is no longer available

Do: This activity is no longer available

We don’t overdo it.

We don’t want to patronize our customers by congratulating them on things that aren’t really worth celebrating. It’s ok to have a ‘boring’ line of text as long as it’s clear.

Do: Added to cart

Don’t: Hurray! You added something to your cart!

Was it really that hard?
 

We tell the customer what went wrong and how to fix it. 

Error messages or notifications about things that go wrong should be written as plainly and straightforwardly as possible and tell the customer how to fix the problem.

Don’t: Error 6987: Invalid address code v20.2.11 Access Denied

This one is just tech jargon

Don’t: Oopsie! Something went wrong :)

This one is vague and annoyingly cutesy

Do: The activity you chose is no longer available for that date. [See similar activities]

This one says what went wrong and how to fix it. The activities we recommend here must be available for the dates provided, otherwise the customer could get caught in an endless loop.

Pro tip: When possible, bucket errors on the backend based on the customer action needed to rectify them. That way, you can recycle the same string across multiple use cases while still telling the customer how to fix whatever they need to.

 

5. We adhere to GYG writing style.

See also our new Tone of Voice guide and the GetYourGuide English style guide. In general, we use US English as our master language and follow the Associated Press Stylebook

 

Style don'ts

  • Don't use exclamation points, as they can be read as yelling and erode our credibility. (Everyone gets 2 per year. Use them wisely.)
  • Don't change or add spaces to our name (not Get Your Guide, not Get Your Groceries).
  • Don’t put punctuation at the end of bullets unless at least one bullet is a complete sentence. (Like these ones.) 
  • Don't hyphenate the word "email" (not, "e-mail") and don’t capitalize the word “internet.”

Style dos

  • Use US English terminology.
  • Use our name with no spaces and each word capitalized (GetYourGuide).
  • Write CTAs and button labels using sentence case.
 

These principles might change over time as we continue to learn more about our customers and what they respond to. If you have questions or suggestions, reach out to uxwriting@getyourguide.com