Flickr gets a lot of (well-earned) kudos for their copy. It’s snappy and fun, clear without being instruction-manual starchy. Flickr is my go-to answer when people ask what sites I think do copy well.
But I often overlook the photo-editing site Picnik, which is a shame. In my head I lump it together with Flickr, because Picnik’s tone is simpatico with Flickr’s. They work together like George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh.
One example: When you’re saving an edited photo to your computer, Picnik gives you 10 choices for JPG compression, labeled 1-10. JPG compression? Sounds boring. But Picnik’s copy gives each selection its own personality, which helps even someone who says “jay-pee-gee” instead of “jay-peg” make an informed decision.
The default file size is 8, which Picnik describes like so:
A sweet spot? Sweet! I love this choice already. But what if I bump it up to 10?
Best quality, huge file size. Hmm. “Huge” is daunting. What if I nudge it down a bit? Say, to 5?
Meh, you say? That’s not so great. But if 5 is “meh,” what are 1 or 2?
The great thing about all of these messages is they use vivid descriptions to make the tradeoffs clear. If I’m not an image pro — and if I’m using Picnik, I’m probably not — “ugly,” “barely recognizable,” and “best” explain image quality and “microscopic,” “teeny tiny,” and “huge” explain file size in a meaningful way. “130 KB” and “1.13 MB” don’t. (Note also that the selection they nudge you towards — 8 — has the most positive description. All nice, no scary.)
The rest of Picnik sounds just as good. They’re a great model for executing a consistent voice from their promo copy to their microcopy.
(Though I wouldn’t have made “sweet spot” into one word.)