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Product Writing Guidelines Now on the MDS Doc Site

Product Writing Guidelines are now on the MDS Documentation Site

August 11, 2020—As communication designers we know that the language we choose, and the style of our writing, is just as important as the visual patterns and interactions we design. That’s why we’re so excited to move the product writing guidelines to the MDS doc site.

Morningstar’s voice just got stronger

We hope that by bringing content and visual documentation closer together we can…

  • Empower investor success with clear, direct, and meaningful analysis of complex financial information.
  • Improve the customer experience with more direct, benefit-focused messaging throughout our products.
  • Make life easier for product designers and product managers by having a single source of truth for Morningstar’s Design language.

Let’s take a look around

Because content is contextual, we’ve organized the writing guidelines by use case or event rather than the MDS element/component:

  • Errors and stress cases. Here you’ll find guidance on what to say when things go wrong, both in-line and at the page level.
  • Success messages. For when things go right. Hopefully you’ll visit this page more often.
  • Actions, confirmations, and decision points. You’ll find tips on dialogs, button labels, and repeating verbs throughout a workflow.
  • Empty states. Let’s start highlighting the opportunity and user value instead of the dead end. As Mitch Hedberg observed: An elevator can’t be broken, it just becomes stairs.
  • Input fields. Rules for labels, helper text, and different kinds of placeholder copy.
  • Container and element titles. Page headers, modal headers, column headers—headers as far as the eye can see!
  • Style and punctuation. Things like Oxford commas, initialisms, and—just when you thought it couldn't get any more exciting—the difference between hyphens and dashes!

We’re not done yet

The product writing guidelines are a constant work in progress—just like our software and every one of us (aww!). As the needs of our clients change and the technology to serve them advances, our language will have to evolve right alongside.

If there is guidance you need but not in here, ask! We will work with you to define new standards that the whole company can adopt. Of course, we’ll communicate any changes or additions. And, when it’s appropriate, we’ll use the MDS Request for Comment period so that designers, product managers, marketers, and any other interested party can be involved in decision making.

Don’t forget your other content strategy resources

Our self-service wiki hosts tools and exercises to help you create narrative-driven product experiences.