UX writing for digital products: iola app

4:46 PM

With this story, I want to share my experience of writing for digital products (iola plugin and mobile application) with editors, copywriters, UX writers.
iola is an easy way for business to get a mobile messenger: plugin and mobile application, created as an alternative to a long-running, expensive mobile development. Let`s say you have a website, built on Oxwall engine, and want a mobile application so that your customers could communicate with each other. Instead of ordering custom mobile development, you can install iola plugin. Customers download and install iola mobile application, type down your website`s URL, and get into your business`s mobile space. Messenger application works both ways, connecting you and your customers and letting your business go mobile.

iola is the project of the international team of two developers Sergey Kambalin and Roman Romanovsky and UI/UX designer Ksenia Kazakova. I joined the team as a UX-writer to take over the text part. Our audience at the start was owners of websites built on a flexible community website engine Oxwall.

iola application is presented in stores (plugin itself in Oxwall store, application on App StoreGoogle Play). In this post, I want to recall the process of creating different pieces of text for the application, making collective decisions that led to one wording or another, and to collect some examples of UX texts. To frame screenshots, I used Screely editor.

Work process. Luckily, we had no need for complicated confirmation procedures. When somebody needed text somewhere, I would get a task in Trello, or task by word of mouth during our Skype meeting. In our team, every member had a word in the discussion, so I usually created two or three pieces for each task and everyone would vote for the best. Pretty easy chain of work: task → text creation (as a result — two or three options or one solid reasoned) → presenting text to the team → upon unanimous approval the best option goes to a final design. If there were no unanimous approval, I would collect feedback and work on as many iterations as needed.

Docs organization. All docs in Google Docs folders. To organize every piece of text, I created one main folder «Content Departments» with subfolders «Interface», «Social Networks», «Newsletter». I wanted to keep every piece because sometimes it can be really useful to look through even the smallest details.

We used InVision to create mockups, and it was just logical to coordinate design and text using InVision artboards. In other cases, I used screenshots and Photoshop to count characters in a string, to coordinate text with page content.

Development process. Milestones of the project with kinds of text needed:
— descriptions in stores and social media,
— iola plugin development (text of the app interface, Oxwall settings),
— beta-testing (here comes landing page and posts on social media),
— release (posts, e-mail newsletter).

Now let`s see some screenshots.

Descriptions in stores and social media
We decided to narrow down the number of communicational channels so that our small team could handle it. Here are these channels: Oxwall communityLinkedInTwitter, and newsletters.

The description on Oxwall store

App store

For LinkedIn and Twitter, I wrote two different mottoes. Looking back, I remember doing so based on the hypothesis, that we are going to reach out to different audiences. Now I would stick to consistency and prefer to repeat one motto from the landing page over and over to anchor it in the minds of the audience.

iola linkedIn motto
iola`s motto on LinkedIn

iola`s motto on Twitter

iola plugin development
iola widget banner
Task description: when iola is connected to the website, users can communicate with each other on their smartphones. To get the mobile messenger, they need to download the iola application from App Store or Google Play. But we need to show them this possibility. So we created a banner, that website admins could place on their website to highlight the feature.

Template of the banner from InVision artboard

Final version

We chose from two drafts of the call-to-action button: «Find out more» and «Read more», which was easy. For a for the short, yet expressive and explanatory motto I wrote some more drafts:
— Try this site with iola
— Switch to mobile with iola
— Take chats to mobile with iola
— Go mobile with iola.

Notification on Oxwall settings panel
Task description: a reminder for website admin that the place for iola widget on the website isn`t determined yet.

An example, screenshot of random plugin notification
on Oxwall settings panel

Final version

The string length here is 48 characters: «You still need to setup the cron job. Learn more». The words «iola widget», «main», «or», «dashboard» were the heart of the message. I wrote three options with different string length, trying to find what will fit better:
— «Choose the best place for iola widget on the website and dashboard» = 66 symbols;
— «You need to place iola widget on the main and (or) dashboard pages» = 54 symbols;
— «Set iola on the main and (or) dashboard pages» = 49 symbols.


We invited beta-testers to try the plugin and give us feedback through the form on the landing page and posted on Oxwall website.

Meet iola Oxwall community post

Even though it was posted by our CEO Sergey Kambalin, it was signed «iola team». It is great when the audience gets to know who is who. But for a totally new iola.app, which had no audience at the beginning, I considered a better idea to grow an audience as a team at first, and then introduce each team member personally.

Thinking «Who are the people we are trying to reach? What can we write to interest them?», I put together some ideas into a prototype of our future content strategy, everything that seems to be just a matter of cause: posts about important updates (and how these updates were helpful for our users); articles for developers on technologies, mobile app development; tutorials and articles for websites administrators on using apps in general and iola in particular to reach business goals; posts about our discounts and special offers. 
But all those ideas were waiting for the future to come. Meanwhile, we were torn between the desire to post more often and the lack of interesting and significant information about the project. It was not so much to tell about the development process (and most of it we`ve already told on the landing page). So we came up just with two update posts:

When iola was finally ready for release, we made the release announcement on LinkedIn and Twitter, short and informative...

and wrote a newsletter.

And last, but not least...

One (important) thing from text guidelines
Working on this project, I gathered together some (reasonably short) text guidelines. It started from my very first line about iola plugin, the first recommendation says «Always-always check twice that the name of the plugin was not autocorrected». You see, the name «iola» comes with the lower case letter «i», and every time you start a sentence with «iola» or just write «iola» somewhere in mockups, Microsoft Word and Google Docs make «Iola» from it. Which you can easily misread as «Lola» (once you made it, you can`t unread it). So yes, always-always, double-check.

This is it for now, the story of one interesting, challenging project, creating text for iola.app. I hope, we will come up soon with new ideas and features for this project. And of course with some new UX copy. Meanwhile feel free to share your thoughts or ask a question in the comments.

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