Bitcoin, escrow, fiat… Writing for the everyday crypto user

“Guess what, Appa? I’ve landed a job as a UX writer working in Bitcoin.” I said (“Appa” is “dad” in my language), I was excited and raring to go.

My father, however, had a very somber response. “Great, but don’t gamble with your money, son.”, he said. My dad’s a veteran of the traditional banking system. He’s from a time when switching from physical ledgers to their digital counterparts was a huge ask. Not to mention his orthodox no-risks-and-you’re-safe upbringing, which made him trust only that which he can see, touch, feel, smell, and understand. This was a man who purchased shares as a savings scheme for a rainy day, and not as a means to increase his wealth.

When I started my journey as a UX writer in crypto, this was what I was dealing with. Fin-tech is complicated, and crypto, even more so. This is completely electronic money, something that my dad can never really see, smell, or touch. So how do I make something so complex and abstract, simple and relatable to everybody? How do I eliminate the fear and uncertainty that these people associate with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general? How do I nurture a culture and mood for large-scale adoption?

If you’re a writer like me in fin-tech who’s been asking yourself the same questions, here are my five top takeaways. Some of these are rather obvious, some are acquired skills, and some are art forms perfected over time.

Assume unfamiliarity

The best place for you to start is from your users’ shoes. If they can understand what you’re trying to convey, and are able to work their way through the flow with little to no frustration, then you’ve hit the bulls-eye.

Assume that your users are unfamiliar with your product. This will ensure your copy hits that sweet spot where you’re able to establish a connection with your users quickly, and earn their trust. Nurturing trust and familiarity within fin-tech is an uphill climb for any UX writer.

Go that extra mile, use those few additional words, sacrifice that space on the window to connect with your user, and believe me, it’ll be worth every pixel.

Grandparent-proof your copy

This may sound cliche, but take this idea to the core of your content design process.

Did you know that “fiat” was not just a car manufacturer? I didn’t, until I started my current job. It’s what we call conventional “paper-based” currencies used around the world. So, right off the bat, it was obvious to me that this was jargon inadvertently being thrust upon our users.

It’s very easy to slip complex and technical jargon into your copy, and you won’t even be guilty of it mostly. These terms would be so ‘everyday’ to you that you’d assume the same for your users as well. And then the truth train will thunder in loudly in the form of angry, frustrated support calls from clueless users. Find everyday alternatives for even the simplest of technical terms to keep your users happy.

Cognitive overload is a clear and present danger and it’s just as likely with a single complex or technical word or phrase, as it is with a long convoluted sentence or two. As a good colleague of mine put it, always read what you write and ask yourself, “Will grandma or grandpa understand this?” And if the answer is ‘no’, it’s probably just as complicated for your target users.

Exercise empathy

Money is a sensitive subject that can be intimidating or even scary to users.You need to be your users’ best friend for as long as they are using your product or service.

Start off with making your copy conversational — as if you were sitting next to them, both of you looking into the same computer screen. It’s not just about taking the users through their journey, but also taking the journey with them.

Add a sprinkle of emotion into your copy, and make it more than just a transaction of words hurled across the vastness of the internet. Make an effort — reach out with your heart and try to connect with the person at the other end. If there’s nobody at the other end, it’s a soliloquy at best or gibberish at worst.

If there’s a problem, go ahead and apologize. Say a comforting word or two to let the user know you understand their frustration. If you’ve made them achieve something, celebrate with them! Be funny or goofy once in a while.

Deliver consistent experiences

Consistency is comfort. Start by creating consistency in the language and the words you use on the product. If you pick a word or phrase to address a concept or technical term, use it everywhere on the product.

Extend the same terminology and nomenclature to other written copy as well, to make all content sound the same. Create a glossary of terms along with their definitions and correct usage for everybody in your organization to see, so that everybody uses these terms as intended.

Next, establish a uniform tone of voice for how you’ll interact with your users. Consider the points above and come up with an ideal voice and tone for your product, and implement it across the board.

Write for your audience

Copy writing, especially UX writing, is a user-centric endeavor. The user is at the core of every word you write, or they should be. You always need to have your finger on the pulse of your target audience.

We have a value centered around this concept here— “staying connected to the streets”. Your users are your most accurate source of information. They’re the ones using your product, so it’s only logical to talk to them and understand their needs to cater to them. If something’s too confusing, simplify it, or swap it out for something easily understandable. If your flow is too difficult to navigate, break it down, and make it fluid.

Another important aspect is data. Collect as much data from your users as possible. Run anonymous surveys, incorporate pop-up questionnaires to understand their experiences going through a particular journey on your product. Translate the results into actionable changes to your copy and then validate them again to measure their success or failure. Keep this cycle of data-driven copy decisions and validations going continuously to constantly improve the user experience on your product.

In conclusion, assume inexperience, and build familiarity by keeping your copy simple. Grandparent-proof your copy using simple, easy-to-understand language, avoiding or simplifying complex terms, making the interactions less scary and more enjoyable.

Reach out with a helping hand and build long-lasting relationships with your users, by putting yourselves in their shoes and partaking in their emotions both positive and negative. Give them a sense of trust and make them feel comfortable with your product.

Build consistency across all forms of content, by normalizing terms and tone. Put your users front and center and make and validate data-driven copy decisions.

Remember, the best copy is the one that blends seamlessly with the user experience. The best copy experiences are the ones that the users don’t even notice. The more natural the language and your communication, the more natural the interaction between your users and your product.

Grammar police. Design thinker. Curious mind. Lazy blogger.

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