A long time ago I visited a small town in La Huasteca Potosina, located in North-Central Mexico. I don’t know if it was the smell of the coffee, the nature, or the incredible reception of the people, but I felt that this place was special.
Then, I decided to stay more days than I had planned, so that I could write a series of short stories about some of the people of the town. Sometimes that happens to me, I decide to change my plans or be in a place just because I discover that there is a story to tell.
This is why when, at the end of 2019, someone from Nubank’s People & Culture Team wrote to me, starting the clearest and most humane selection process in which I have participated, I decided to join Nubank and I asked myself a question: what story can I tell as a UX Writer at Nubank?
The first answers to that question were exciting because the company was landing in Mexico and the time had come for this great brand, born in Brazil, to speak in Spanish.
Nubank’s voice in Brazil is recognizable, with a clear presence in all channels and platforms that reaches a community of more than 30 million people. So the challenge of keeping that voice in a new country is big.
The voice of a brand is unique and should not be lost when it has a global presence. Something was needed beyond a translation of the texts, a new approach to Content Strategy was needed, as well as a deep Content Localization process that responded to the cultural and social context of Mexico.
Sentence constructions can vary a lot between languages
When I say Content Localization, a hot topic nowadays in the Content Strategy and UX Writing communities, I say it in a way that we can adapt Nubank’s content so it has a meaning with the Mexican audience, and Nubank’s products and services can speak and feel natural in a local market, but without losing its essence.
On the other hand, although Portuguese and Spanish have a broad lexical similarity, there is a certain fluency in the Camões language that the Cervantes language does not have, as well as a structure that means that some sentence constructions can vary a lot between these two languages.
Portuguese, for example, allows joining prepositions with articles, such as “dos”, which in Spanish we use in a separate way “de los”, and that could make a sentence longer. It may seem like a small thing, but when it comes to very short content, like “microcopy” in an app, it can make a big difference.
Content Localization can be a very powerful tool, but what will give the best results is to create new content from the beginning, so from the first word to the last, we can address the real context of the local market.
We know that writing is designing, but writing is also co-writing and co-designing
Professionals who work with Content Localization know very well that the process of adapting the language is crucial and for this, it is necessary to build a narrative that has a meaning with the way society interacts with its reality.
For this reason, collaboration has been very important, impacting also the content created for a new market, such as Colombia, where new challenges have arrived.
For example, in Mexico, there are “pagos fijos”, something like fixed payments, while in Colombia they are called “cuotas”, as installments. In Mexico, there are “tarjeta de residencia temporal” and “tarjeta residencia permanente” for foreigners, while in Colombia you have to talk about “cédula de extranjería”.
Moreover, in Mexico you have an “identificación”, but in Colombia you have a “documento”. In addition, there is a clear and big difference in both countries in the way you would use personal pronouns, such as “tú” and “usted”.
These particularities make the language rich, but also harder for a localization effort and can only be addressed with collaboration and constant team communication, where people from all the countries involved participate and be the ones who make that a project achieves the best communication possible in its own flows.
We know that writing is designing, but now we know that writing is also co-writing and co-designing.
In that sense, being in a place like Nubank is a great opportunity, since you work as a team with Product Designers, UX Researchers, Visual Designers, Copywriters, Motion Designers, but also with Product Managers, Engineers, Brand Managers, Business Architects, Data Analysts, Compliance Teams, and with many other roles that seek to improve user experience.
The message must be as clear as possible, but it must also focus on what the user is going through
As UX Writers, there are concepts that we must keep in mind all the time, as if they were the main objectives in our projects, such as clarity and empathy, to mention just two of them.
In a process within the app, especially one that has to do, for example, with frustration, such as a request for a refund or a chargeback, the words have to respond to what people need to know at all times and what are the next steps.
In this way, the message must be as clear as possible, yes, but it must also focus on what the user is going through, and this can only be achieved through empathy.
I mean, it is very good to explain what type of documents we need to review a request for this refund or chargeback, but we must not forget to communicate, in a transparent and friendly way, which is something that has always defined Nubank, the reason why we need and ask for those documents:
“The more documentation we have, the easier it will be for us to help you”.
Equally important is the ending of our history, the closing of the process, where we must not leave anything open or possible doubts. It must be said and with the appropriate hierarchy, what are the next steps before finishing and what will happen once the user sends the information.
Literature has made me a better UX Writer
There is not much difference between a blank page and an empty screen, both represent the opportunity to start telling a story. The best thing about being part of the Nubank’s Design Team is that this process is collaborative and always begins with that objective of putting people at the center of everything.
This is how we have been discovering the power of personalized messages and using natural language, with a conversational tone, to say things like “Hey, this person said very good things about you”, when someone recommends a friend.
Or even talk about an everyday problem and connect it with our narrative and one of our value propositions, that is to solve problems without wasting time, in an efficient way. This way we can be able to say: “If you know a person who spends hours calling their bank without having a problem solved, invite them to get to know Nubank”.
This may seem far from the short stories I wrote many years ago about the people of the little town at La Huasteca Potosina, but I am convinced that literature, in particular the flash fiction genre, has been fundamental for me in order to use a natural and brief language, focused on taking people through each of the screens of a flow without losing the narrative thread and doing it, also, without forgetting what should happen on the final screen.
Literature, to put it another way, has made me a better UX Writer.
There are still many stories to tell and that is what excites me the most when I think about the future. The very first page of this story called Nubank is still being written.
A very special thanks go to UX Writers Lidiana Domingues, Kenya Ortiz, Mariana Medina and Cris Luckner. Also to Priscila Nakazato, Lucas Terra, Ricardo Sato, and to the first readers of this text, in particular to Kate Edgar, Mariana Netto, André Mooij, and Ezequiel Siddig.