Voice and Tone

Find a unique style that suits a user's mood at any given moment. There are multiple touchpoints in a user's journey. They may feel one way when they land on your content and may feel completely different after they've read your content. Knowing how they feel at each touchpoint will help you craft your content to be engaging and empowering.

What makes Billy Joel's voice so great? It is strong and raspy but also soft and delicate. It is friendly, personal, relatable, clear, simple and straightforward. His music has reached across cultures and is timeless. Much like great music and lyrics, your voice and tone should empower users and be relatable. Be open to other ways we communicate and learn from how others do it well.

Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.

~ Jim Rohn

The difference between voice and tone is simple. The voice is the same all the time. It is the style in which you speak and write. Everyone has a style. It is important to understand how your style is unique from others. The tone is the personality in which you speak and write. The tone changes depending on who you're speaking to or what is happening. You speak to your mother much different than a close friend. It is important to understand what tone to use and when. Perhaps you want to be fun and bubbly, formal and helpful or even weird and inappropriate. All can be used to empower users.

How We Read

Knowing how users read is important for writing great content. Users only really read 20-30% of the average web page. Users will skim through content in order to complete the given task quickly. In the first moments, a user will determine if your content is usable or fluff. Only show what is necessary.

It is important to understand that we don't read one word at a time. We bounce around and anticipate words to fill them in. At around 9 or 10 years of age we can begin dropping words and making sense of the shapes. We no longer look at the individual letters but at the shape of the word. As a side note, upper case formatting will slow reading speeds considerably. Our reading skills stay with us forever. In addition, the most popular novels are written at a 7th-grade reading level. Many newspapers follow a similar path. Keeping your content simple and easy to read will reduce the time it takes to accomplish a task.

Learn more about how we read at A List Apart
Touchy Subjects

Culture is complex and it is important to be aware of subjects that may be touchy for your users. It is important that we are sensitive, compassionate and respectful to all communities. We are all affected.

For example, refer to people with disabilities using person first format:

Yes: "Person with a disability."

No: "Disabled person."

Learn how to talk to people with disabilites at the Huffington Post
Watch a video on approaching racism at TED Talks