Design DocuWare

Guidelines to empower the DocuWare products' inclusivity and accessibility

Voice and Tone

Introduction

The DocuWare Voice & Tone expresses how we speak to our users through the product. Just as our product should look and act consistently through all its modules, it should also speak consistently.

The following instructions will show you how to apply DocuWare’s Voice & Tone, no matter what feature or app you’re creating :rocket:

Speak out loud what you wrote and adjust your text if needed

Your writing should sound natural to you and not like a computer would have written it.

Voice

Just as you have only one voice to speak with, also DocuWare has only one voice that should never change. The voice is the personality of our product.

Our users perceive DocuWare as a professional and informative product, while our voice remains at an approachable eye level with our users.

In detail, this means:

  • Professional and informative

    Writing in a professional voice means being clear, concise, and seeking to convey information and ideas quickly. Give every word in your text a specific purpose, and don’t use superlatives like “best,” “least,” or “most.” Nevertheless, be informative and write descriptively if needed so that also complex topics are well received by our users.

  • Approachable
    Use everyday business language and talk to our users on eye level. We stay responsive to them by writing positively and addressing them personally, but never in an insensitive way.

Tone

If the voice is our product’s personality, then the tone is how we express that.

According to our voice also, our tone is rather serious and respectful. We speak more matter-of-factly but still want to encourage our users when, e.g., they fulfilled a task successfully. Our tone of voice is neither formal nor casual. Our approach is a conversational way of writing.

In detail, this means:

Serious or Funny

Avoid language that’s overly opinionated, funny, or trendy. Don’t try to be funny by using jokes and slang. We provide a professional and serious product and should also speak like this.

Yes

No open document.

No

No document here. Why don’t you open up a little?

Matter-Of-Fact or enthusiastic

We are excited about our product and should also share this enthusiasm but in moderation. Describe only the important information, without superlatives, and avoid exclamation and quotation marks.

Yes

You can upload your document here.

No

Just upload your document here, you got this!

Formal or casual

Keep the tone encouraging and address the user directly. We are speaking to our users in a conversational tone. Our voice is professional, but when using a conversational tone sometimes saying “can’t” sounds more natural instead of “cannot” or the other way around.

Yes

Your requested form {0} cannot be found.

No

Form with name [{0}] not found.

Respectful or irreverent

Treat our users in a respectful and polite way. Irreverent writing could be misleading.

Yes

Please complete your profile to reset your password at any time.

No

You always forget your password, don’t you? Better complete your profile to reset it.

How to apply

The following example highlights how Voice & Tone can differ the impression within the same situation.

Error Message

Situation

The user is facing an error message. During a system error, all changes were discarded.

In this situation, users’ stress levels might increase.
We want to lower that 😉

Version 1

We take the user’s situation seriously and want to inform matter-of-factly what happened and how the problem can be solved.

    • Voice: Professional, informative, and approachable

    • Tone: Serious, matter-of-factly, conversational, polite, and friendly

Yes

Your changes could not be saved. Please try again.

We write in a rather dry style to keep the text serious and matter-of-fact. We address the user personally and thus remain conversational.

We are polite and friendly by using “please”. This is essential because the error is caused by the system and not the user, so we want to lower the stress level.

Version 2

At first glance, it’s not always clear how much the tone variation can make a text sound different. Therefore let’s mix 2 of our tone settings up to highlight a bad example.

  • Voice: Professional, informative, and approachable

  • Tone: Funny, enthusiastic, conversational, polite and friendly

No

Nope, that didn’t work out! Let’s try again.

Using the word “Nope” makes the text sound very hip and edgy. Also, it is not clear what exactly the error was.

Summarized, our voice settings totally got lost by changing the 2 tones from serious to funny and from matter-of-factly to enthusiastic.

Writing Principles

Language

American English

Write in American English

American English has fewer regional accents and dialects to consider. Therefore it’s more internationally used than British English.

Yes

Color

No

Colour

Yes

Realize

No

Realise

Product names

Stick to the product names

Using different terms for the same function confuses our users in their actions. If you are unsure of how to write a term properly, you’ll find crucial DocuWare Terms here.

Yes

Intelligent Indexing

No

Intellix

Simple language

Write plain and simple

Users benefit from having text at a lower reading level when reading on a screen. In addition, our users are a broad group with different educational levels. To ensure that a text is well-readable and accessible, keep your text plain and use simple words. If you are unsure if your text is well-readable, you can check it with the Hemingway Editor.

Yes

Use

No

Utilize

Avoid technical jargon

When writing about a topic you are familiar with, keep in mind the specific persona you want to address. Technical jargon might not be understandable for all of our users. Try to write out the information instead of using jargon.

Yes

The parameter: {0} could not be restored, or the value of it is not correct.

No

The formatter threw an exception while trying to deserialize the message: {0}

Write only information that has value to the user

The microcopy should be valuable and useful for the user. Avoid using decorative text chunks or proper sentences to fill the gaps in the User Interface.

Yes

Click “Save”.

No

Click the “Save” button.

BUT: Write out what is happening even if this makes the text longer.

Yes

After updating your password, you will be logged out automatically. Use your new password to log in again.

No

This action will trigger a new login process.

Seriousness​

Write in a serious way

Don’t try to be humorous or write in too casual or irreverent ways. Writing like this could mislead our users and don’t fit a business product like DocuWare.

Yes

No open document

No

It’s a bit quiet in here.

OR

Yes

Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.

No

Oops.. you broke it! Just kidding. Try again.

Positivity​

Write positive

Avoid negative words like:

  • Can’t
  • Don’t
Yes

The thumbnail appears when it has a record associated.

No

The thumbnail doesn’t appear if there is no record associated.

Use the opposite adjective

Try to use the opposite adjective to create a positive statement or homonym words to refer to positive or negative states.

Yes

Use unique names.

No

Do not use duplicated names.

Don’t accuse the user

In case of the undesired system state caused by the user’s action do not accuse her of doing something wrong or avoiding required actions.

Yes

Enter an email address.

No

You did not enter an email address.

Directness

Write to users in the second person (“you or “your”).

Use this style when DocuWare:

  • Speaks to the user directly
  • Asks to provide specific user information
Yes

Enter your DocuWare organization name.

No

Enter the DocuWare organization name.

Terms and Phrases

Grammar

Concepts

Gendered Language

Use the plural to avoid gendered language

Many languages lack gender-inclusive options. If gender-neutral language isn’t possible, then choose the most understandable expression.

Yes

They/Them/Theirs

No
  • He/him/his

  • She/her/hers

DocuWare is not a gender-specific product and can be used by a variety of users. Therefore, we must avoid gender-specific pronouns and instead use the “you” or plural form to address our users.

Yes

“{0}” cannot be matched to existing users.

No

“{0}” cannot be matched to any existing user.

Localization

Translations size

Keep long translations in mind. By making all UI components expandable, you can ensure that even longer translations can be displayed (e.g., Spanish or German).

Date and number formats

Think about date and number formats. For example, different countries may have different date and number formats.

Non-DocuWare terms

Avoid capitalization of non-DocuWare terms. This may cause translation errors because translators expect not to translate capitalized terms.