Steve Howe is a UX copywriter at Typeform, a company that makes forms brilliantly easy to complete, and he’s speaking at this year’s Copywriting Conference. We asked him a few questions to find out more about his background and his thoughts on modern copywriting.
Having worked in social care with homeless young people in London, Steve Howe found his way to copywriting via teaching English in Barcelona.
“Teaching English made me look at the framework of language in a new way,” he explains. This led to first translating, then transcreating Spanish copy, and in turn to working for Typeform in Barcelona – first as a generalist copywriter, and now focussing on UX copy.
“The best copy comes from customers themselves,” he says. “Take what your customers are actually saying, and put it in print.”
Typeform recently created a database of customer testimonials and a framework to incorporate customer’s actual experiences, a project he says was eye-opening. “We probably thought we were customer-centric already, but this takes it to a whole new level.”
He believes that moving away from prescriptive, one-size-fits-all tone-of-voice manuals and towards greater flexibility, with copy that shifts and adapts in tone as necessary, will be all the more crucial in the future. “It’s about creating memorable interactions, and to do that communication needs to be personalised and precise, not filled with small talk that we imagine sounds like conversation.”
“The problem with trends like chatty, overly-informal copy is that one company does it well and then others recycle the concept. What might have been clever about it in the first place gets degraded if it’s not right for a different brand, or not appropriate to the circumstances.”
He predicts that hey guys!-type messages will soon go the way of meaningless corporate jargon or robotic system messages, as companies and brands look to communicate with their customers on a more individual level. “If the copy doesn’t connect with the actual situation, then it becomes a barrier to communication – it fails to build rapport with the customer, because it’s making presumptions.”
Steve’s own dream job would be writing dialogue for Nintendo games. “To create that feeling of satisfaction I’ve had when stumbling across a piece of dialogue would be great.” His talk will focus on how you can connect with customers through authentic interactions and copy that is designed to communicate.
The Copywriting Conference is our own event dedicated to hard-working words. The day is a mix of talks and mini-workshops, giving you a good blend of inspiration and learning, all surrounded with chances to mingle with other writers, in-house marketers and communicators.
ProCopywriters members can save up to £125 on tickets. Check your dashboard for the promotional code.
The 2019 Copywriting Conference will be our sixth conference since Tom Albrighton and Ben Locker hosted the first event in 2013.