Search graduate:

Norman Järve

  • Industrial and Digital Product Design
  • BA
  • Writing Estonian Microcopy by Applying English Microcopy Principles
  • Tutor: Hegle Sarapuu-Johanson

As the web has become to have an increasingly important role in people’s lives, it is also important that the guidance it provides is clearly understood by all users. This can be achieved through microcopy, which consists of different helpful words and phrases used in the user interface. Some simple examples of microcopy are headings above fields, a red error message informing the user that they have entered the wrong password when logging in, or the phrase ‘’Subscribe to email notifications’’ on a button.

In my thesis, I was looking for an answer to the question of whether it makes sense to use English findings as a guide when writing Estonian microcopy. It is necessary to research this, as there has been almost no research on microcopy in Estonian. At the moment when writing microcopy, it is only possible to draw on one’s own intuition or on knowledge gained from research conducted in English, which may not have the same effect in Estonian.

I sought to answer this question by testing different variants of microcopy on users, using the neuro-UX research method. Neuro-UX is a method of measuring a variety of physiological indicators of the user, from which one of the main ones are the user’s reactions as measured by brain waves.

Through testing and analysis, I found that in most cases, it does indeed make sense to apply the same findings made about English microcopy to Estonian microcopy, but I also found some differences between the languages, where this may not be the case. Formal and informal pronouns are one of the differences, which the English language, for example, does not use. In the future, differences such as this should be researched further, which, if known, could lead to the creation of a compilation of best practices, which could guide designers when writing microcopy in Estonian. Guided by this, it would be possible to create simpler and more convenient Estonian user interfaces for the entire Estonian-speaking userbase.