Diego Cagara





UX research

Rewrite copy

Set voice/tone guidelines


Summer – Fall 2019

As part of the UX Writing Fundamentals course I took with UX Writers Collective, I was tasked with improving a fictional app called Handshake with user-friendly copy and follow uniform voice/tone guidelines.

Handshake is an app used by both freelancers and employers (business owners).

Freelancers use it to bill business owners and track their progress on a paid project they're hired to work on (billing and tracking). Business owners use it to pay freelancers and track their progress (paying and tracking).


This project provided me with two user personas which gave me an idea on the types of users I’m reworking the Handshake app for.

One is a young adult woman who does freelance web design while the other is a man in his early 60s who owns a business but is not as confident with technology.

This information is helpful because the Handshake would be used by both user personas so crafting copy that appeal to them both is important.


I conducted competitive analysis and looked up several real-life competitor apps (like Upwork, Skrill and Fiverr) that appeal to similar user personas. I took notes of how their UI copy were crafted for their users.

I also used Google Trends to continue my research. For example, I also researched what types of words and terminology each user persona would typically use so that the UX copy — that I will eventually recommend in the Handshake app — makes sense to them.

Among the commonly-used and preferred terms I found while conducting research include:

  • - Payment — As opposed to deposit or transaction
  • - Freelancer — As opposed to 1099 contract worker, contract work, contract-to-hire or independent contractor
  • - Connect — As opposed to join, gather or link
  • - Project — As opposed to assignment or task


By also looking into my competitor analysis research, I developed the three tones that would make Handshake’s overall voice:

Empathetic, not robotic

Acknowledge the user’s progress with encouragement and guidance. Don’t make the experience feel like it’s all just a transaction and nothing more.

Accessible, not exclusionary

Appeal to both user personas, instead of just one. Inclusivity comes with productivity.

Driven, not aggressive

Inspire the user to feel motivated. Instead of making a user feel bad for falling behind, give them the information they need to get back on track.


The project’s instructions, user personas and my research influenced how I edited the initially-provided UI copy to make Handshake a more user-friendly app.

The following are some examples of the screens I rewrote and as labeled, certain screens are for a user who is an employer while other screens are for a user who is a freelancer.

Welcome screens – Before

Welcome screens – After


  • - Concisely explained what types of users Handshake serves (“Connecting freelancers and employers” in the Welcome screen)
  • - Changed CTA to “Start your project” to directly address the user in a motivational and encouraging tone (following the app’s voice guidelines) as well as prepare the user for what will happen upon clicking the CTA
  • - Made copy sound more uniform (“Sign In” and “Sign Up” sound more cohesive together as a pair instead of “Now What?”)
  • - Used easier-to-understand and concise copy (changed from “1099 Contractor” to “Freelancer”)
  • - Removed unnecessary exclamation and question marks

Employer setup – Before

Employer setup – After


- Fixed spelling, capitalization and grammar errors

- Used helpful hints in blank fields so the user knows what to type in (using hint text helps reduce copy on a screen)

- Used step numbers (to tell user how many steps there are and not have them wondering how long the setup process could take)

- Made the copy sound sharper with action verbs ("Create…" / "Select…" / "Invite…") as opposed to having questions at the top of the screens (as shown in the Before example)

Employer ongoing use – Before

Employer ongoing use – After


- Made more concise CTA copy

- In the third screen, I edited "Pay this!!" (which sounded excessive and may cause alarm to the user) to "Pay"

- In the pop-up window, I made sure the “Pay” CTA matched the headline “Paying a bill?” so the user knows what exactly they’re about to do. “Cancel” sounds ambiguous so I opted for “Never mind”.

- Ensured the format for dates, hours and monetary amounts stayed uniform


Conducting UX research like competitor analysis, tracking industry trends/keywords, determining the product’s voice guidelines are critical in informing the UX writing process. Research helped me determine how to best rewrite the app’s copy for its user types and understand how they could use Handshake.

While this was a fictional app as part of a UX writing course, it offered me valuable insight into how a UX writer works behind the scenes to conduct research and improve copy.