Write Like a Human

by Amy Thibodeau

Content strategist at Facebook and collector of fleeting experiences. Inspired by simple language, intuitive design and slow bookish afternoons. Likes cake.

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It’s not process, it’s content.

“People get confused; companies get confused. When they start getting bigger, they want to replicate their initial success. And a lot of them think, ‘Well, somehow, there’s some magic in the process of how that success was created.’ So they start to institutionalize process across the company. And before very long, people start to get confused that the process is the content. And that’s ultimately the downfall of IBM. IBM has the best process people in the world. They just forgot about the content. And that happened a little bit at Apple, too. We had a lot of people who were great at management process. They just didn’t have a clue about the content. In my career, I found that the best people are the ones that really understand the content. And they’re a pain in the butt to manage! But you put up with it because they’re so great at the content. And that’s what makes great products. It...

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Voice and tone

  • Brand: Who you are.
  • Voice: How you sound.
  • Tone: How you respond to circumstances.

Your voice shouldn’t change, unless you change your brand. It’s one of the key ways that people know you and recognize what you’re about. Having a consistent voice makes your brand feel more authentic.

Your tone might change all the time depending on what’s happening, how you want people to feel and who you’re talking to. For example, in an error message, you might adopt a helpful, patient tone or show concern. On a landing page about a new feature, you might want to show excitement, or maybe even a sense of humor.

You probably don’t want to come off as excited or funny when someone’s getting tripped up by your system, unless there’s a well thought out and compelling reason.

Think about your business as something human that exists in the world and has a personality. If you know your brand and...

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