I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “actions speak louder than words”. While it applies to many walks of life, it certainly does not apply to mobile apps. When it comes to engaging and mobilizing users in the right direction, words should be your secret weapon.
Whether it is your App Store’s title and description or the app’s registration process, each sentence should be well-thought out. Every word you choose to include should be there for a reason and carry its own weight. Nobody put it better than George Orwell, who suggested writers ask themselves a few questions before finalizing any piece of text:
- What am I trying to say?
- What words will express it?
- Could I put it more shortly?
I am assuming that for some of you, these rules sound familiar. These are guidelines that every good writer follows and has mastered throughout the years. That’s right, if you want you want a better app that displays impactful text rather than null words, you need a great writer on your team. For those of you who don’t have one, I have assembled bits and pieces of wisdom from legendary writers to help kick your app content-writing up a notch.
The App Store
In an interview for The Atlantic, Stephen King once commented on the importance of an opening line: “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” This is the best advice you can use when writing the content of your App Store page. You want users to think: “I need to see this. I need to download this app”.
The problem with App Store descriptions is that few people read past the first few lines. In order to encourage potential users to read further and eventually download your app, you need a great opening line that tells them: “You want to know about this app”. Once you’ve grabbed users’ attention, you’ve earned the opportunity to tell them what’s great about your app, thus increasing the odds for them to download it.
Here’s an example for a great opening line: “Discover awesome, fast-paced, bubble shooting action in this addictive arcade game! Join over 60 million players on Facebook & mobile!” The creators of this app chose to use fun adjectives, short sentences, and an impressive fact about their app – a great way to spark interest and curiosity.
Since in-app text is limited, each word carries greater weight, and impactful sentences are more challenging to achieve. In an interview for The Guardian, famous American writer, Annie Proulx, provided the following advice: “Rewrite and edit until you achieve the most felicitous phrase/sentence/paragraph/page/story or chapter.”
When space is scarce, Proulx’s advice is extremely useful. The best way to ensure that you’re successfully transmitting a message while staying within the realm of your limitations, is to edit again, again, and again. Do this several times until you are 100% sure that the words you’ve selected will influence your users the way you seek, eventually making for a better app experience.
Pinch for instance, has an excellent onboarding process which includes no more than one, well-written sentence at the bottom of each screen.
- “Privacy is key – we will never post or send a message on your behalf”
- “The hottest match you can imagine is right here”
- “Explore – Find a new match, Pinch – Play a game to break the ice and learn more about people who are interested in you, Connect – Chat with your match about the game and many more…”
Within a limited space, the creators of Pinch managed to craft simple sentences that successfully transmit their message to newcomers without overwhelming them.
Space limitations also exist in push notifications, a tool most marketers use to boost retention by triggering users to tune back into the app for another positive session. Issuing great push notifications requires impeccable writing skills since they must provoke emotions and curiosity within a limited amount of space.
This is where Orwell’s, King’s and Proulx’s rules all become relevant. When writing push notifications be sure to ask yourself: “What am I trying to say? What words should I use?”, and “Can I put it more shortly?” Then, ensure that the text invites the user to use the app (much like King’s opening lines), and finally, edit, rewrite, and rephrase and until you achieve perfection (just like Proulx suggests).
Here are just a few outstanding, action-triggering examples:
- Abercrombie: “We could’ve waited ‘til the weekend… but where’s the fun in that?! A surprise this way…”
- Resy: “In the golden days, by 5 PM on Friday you were screwed if you hadn’t booked dinner. #nostalgia”
- Tablelist: “Facebook botched that whole “year in review” thing. Good thing you can start this year right with Tabelist!”
Who would have thought that writing advice from some of the most legendary writers of the previous century, would apply to one of the most advanced industries of our time. This simply goes to show that great writing is not just a way for influencing masses offline, but also a way of influencing mobile users. If you play the content-writing game right, you might be surprised as to vast positive effects it will have on your users and how they engage with your better app.