In this post, you’ll find the definition of the user interface content, its characteristics, as well as the four groups of UI content elements for websites and apps.

UI content for web and apps: definition, features, and elements

What is the user interface content?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re in the right place.

In this post, you’ll find answers to this and four other questions:

  • What is the user interface (UI)?
  • Which are the characteristics of UI content?
  • How many groups of its elements exist?
  • Why UI content looks more like a patchwork than a collage?

Would you like to get the answers to all of these questions and learn more about the user interface content?

In that case, keep reading!

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What is the user interface (UI)?

The user interface is the medium through which a user interacts with a machine (software).

A machine can be a computer, mobile device, GPS, web page, desktop application, mobile application, etc.

Users can carry the interaction out in two ways, by way of:

  • Voice – When we pronounce a question and receive an oral answer.
  • Text – When we write a question and receive a written answer.

However, the interaction between users and machines doesn’t limit to asking questions or receiving answers.

It encompasses different actions, from filling out a web form to clicking a link to navigate a website, display a menu or perform an installation.

What are the characteristics of UI content?

To prevent users from getting frustrated while communicating with a digital product, we should offer them both help and support.

For instance, if a user is about to install an application on their mobile device, our job is to provide instructions and explain which steps to follow.

To accomplish that, we need UI content.

User interface content (UI content) is the type of content that forms part of a user interface and represents a response to a user’s action.

UI content is also known as microcopy. However, we shouldn’t mistake microcopy for micro-copywriting.

The goal of UI content

The goal of UI content is to improve the user experience within the interface.

For UI content to improve the user experience, it needs to be informative, straightforward, and user-friendly. In other words, the content should meet the following three requirements:

  • Information – The content should inform users where they are and what the next step in the process is.
  • Straightforwardness – It should also follow a standardised and uniform content pattern.
  • User-friendliness – The last requirement is to apply the conversational and user-centred language.

UX writers —user experience writers or content designers— design and craft this type of content.

Four groups of UI content elements

Moments in which the interaction between a user and a machine takes place we call touchpoints. Depending on the touchpoint, the user encounters one or another UI content element.

There are four groups of UI content elements. They correspond to different touchpoints.

In continuation, you’ll find information about the four groups of UI content elements we usually find on websites and within applications:

  • Elements that guide users;
  • The ones that inform users;
  • Elements that simplify navigation;
  • The ones that enable choice-making and data entry.

Elements that guide users

Goal: To explain to users what the next step in the process is

  • Instructions – The content of instructions aims to explain to users what steps are required to complete the desired action, as well as how to carry them out.
  • Tooltips – Tooltips offer some contextual information regarding the use of specific tools. These are also known as help bubbles.
  • Empty states – The content of empty states is aimed at explaining to users which additional actions they may take or how to solve a connection problem. We can use empty states to perform upselling, too.

Elements that inform users

Goal: To ask users for permission or inform them about an error or the completion of an action

  • Notifications – The content of notifications informs users about the completion of an action (for example, a file download). It may also ask for some kind of permission.
  • Alerts – The content of alerts informs users about the two types of errors: validation errors and system errors.

Elements that simplify navigation

Goal: To inform users about the result of their action

  • Dialogues – The content of dialogues ask users for confirmation (decision dialogues) and provide some additional information (information dialogues).
  • Button text – The button text (Call-to-Action or CTA) is there to explain to users what happens after they click a certain button.

Elements that enable choice-making and data entry

Goal: To support users in moments of choice-making and data entry

  • Lists – The content of lists helps users to choose one of the options. That’s the goal of navigation menus, checkboxes, and drop-down lists.
  • Forms – The content of the forms offers them support and additional information on the data they should enter. For example, if it’s mandatory or not to enter a particular piece of information.

The UI content is patchwork, not collage

Before finishing the post, it’s necessary to highlight that, in most cases, we can find different UI content elements in a single user interface.

Why is that the case?

In a word, elements of UI content make an extraordinary user experience possible only by “working” together.

As a result, we could conclude that the user interface content is similar to a photo collage.

However, it’s not.

The UI content is much more like patchwork.

Patchwork or “pieced work” is a form of needlework that involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. The larger design is usually based on repeating patterns built up with different fabric shapes (which can be different colors).

Patchwork, Wikipedia

The elements of UI content are comparable to small “pieces of fabric” that come together to create a new quality. That quality is the user experience.

However, we don’t randomly put the elements of UI content together.

On the contrary, before crafting the UI content, we must research, plan, and design the “pattern” to be used. Only that way, the UI patchwork technique” produces a joyful, colourful, and engaging user experience.

A Writing-Friendly Question: Do you find any element of the UI content more important than the other ones?

My name is Stasa Durdic, and I work as a UX writer. In my opinion, the user experience is very much like patchwork. Namely, each member of the UX team makes a different contribution. However, those differences complement each other. If you would like to know more about me, please read my story or visit my LinkedIn profile. On the other hand, in case you want to get in touch with me, I’ll be happy to offer you my help with UX writing.

From NO to YES, there is only one CLICK. Please share this text.

Categories: UX writing


ziemia okrzemkowa · 08/10/2021 at 04:28

I am not sure where you are getting your
info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.

Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

    Stasa Durdic · 11/10/2021 at 09:04

    You’re welcome! Keep visiting us and good luck in creating your own UI patchwork. 😉

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