Paste

Design System

Voice and tone

How to use the Twilio Voice and tonal qualities to communicate effectively in our products.


What are voice and tone?#

Voice is the foundation of every written or spoken communication.#

Voice makes us Twilio identifiable, consistent, and familiar.

Tone is how you modify what you say to convey emotion or intent.#

Tone enables you to choose words, structures, punctuation, or syntax appropriate to the scenario.

Voice or tone?

Think of your best friend. You can recognize their voice — that doesn't change. But how they speak in a job interview is different from how they chat with you at the weekend. They sound the same — that’s voice. But they change how they express themselves — that’s tone.

Twilio voice and tone#

The Twilio Voice is how we sound in writing or out loud.#

The characteristics of our voice don’t change. Twilio always sounds

  • Human
  • Accurate
  • Authentic

Tone has four parts#

The four qualities of tone are as follows. The exact mix changes to meet the user’s needs and situation.

  • Positive
  • Conversational
  • Encouraging
  • Knowledgeable

Human = write with the user in mind#

Users succeed when they achieve their goal efficiently and have a positive experience. Create content that appeals to both their head and heart content that you'd want to read.

  • Reduce cognitive load by using common words in simple, short structures.
  • Be empathetic and consider the user's situation and emotional state.
  • Offer appropriate reactions, just as you would face-to-face.

Accurate = write with precision#

Users need our content to be accurate. They rely on the words we use to help them achieve their goal. A user should never be surprised by what content means.

  • Use consistent language for features and products.
  • Give the user all the information they need to make a decision.
  • Remember, you are not the user.

Authentic = write transparently#

Users need our content to be truthful and evidence-based. They rely on our products to do what they say. Being evasive or exaggerating isn’t useful and impacts the user’s trust in our products.

  • Be clear about what is and isn’t possible, particularly with beta or pilot features.
  • Never suggest or claim that the product does something it can’t deliver.
  • Test the product rigorously so you can be confident and precise about its functions.

Tone#

Tone is used to modify how we communicate, according to the scenario and the user’s situation. Think of tone as a stabilizer tool.

We want our users to feel

  • Confident
  • At ease
  • Empowered
  • Reassured

To do that, we use a combination of tonal qualities

  • Positive
  • Conversational
  • Encouraging
  • Knowledgeable

Tonal qualities#

Positive#

You're task-focused but warm. When the user wins, you recognize their success genuinely.

  • Do be engaging, efficient, and forward-looking.
  • Do front-load messages with the reason (why) then the action (how.)
    • To get started, add a user
    • Congratulations, you sent your first campaign email!

Being over-enthusiastic all the time can sound insincere. Choose moments of infrequent success.

  • Don't be annoying, hyperbolic, or misleading.
  • Don't add empty phrases or punctuation to try to sound positive.
    • First up, add a user, then we can get going!

Conversational#

Speak to the user as you would in person. Imagine you're on friendly, but professional terms.

  • Do be friendly, approachable, and straightforward.
  • Do use common contractions (you’ll, we’re, let’s.)
    • You're not logged in

You aren't jokey or casual with the user. Remember, the user has a goal to complete.

  • Don't be colloquial or over-familiar.
  • Don't use slang or idioms. These can exclude users and obscure meaning.
    • Head over to Studio
    • Oops, looks like you're a few characters short of a password

Write as much copy as you need to convey the message in a conversational tone.

  • Avoid sounding robotic or sacrificing meaning to save space. Shorter is not always better or clearer.
  • Avoid prioritizing space or design over comprehension or conversational language.
    • Create
  • Instead, choose the words that clearly communicate what an interaction does.
    • Create Agent profile

Encouraging#

Show empathy, advise, and guide. Show the user how to succeed to give them confidence.

  • Do be helpful, reassuring, and supportive.
  • Do include a please if the user is making additional effort.
    • To apply changes, please reload the page
    • Change an Agent's skill level in Agent Profile

Users need support and reassurance without judgement.

  • Don't be patronizing or sound impatient.
  • Don't precede an instruction with just or frame it as being easy or simple.
    • To apply changes, just reload the page
    • Change an Agent's skill level easily in Agent Profile

Knowledgeable#

Empower the user by sharing information. Show them the edges of the flow for context.

  • Do be informative, guiding, and clear.
  • Do signpost what’s next to enable discovery.
    • To see available networks, select a country

Avoid surprising the user with another step and don't assume they as much as you.

  • Don't be dictatorial, superior, or know-it-all.
  • Don't make the user guess what an interaction will do.
    • Select country

Finding the right tone#

Identify the user, their place in the experience, what they need, and their emotional state. Put yourself in their shoes.

InteractionContextUser needApproach
NeutralA repeated interaction (Login screen, confirmation message)Familiarity and recognition. Efficiency, nothing unusual, and no frictionConversational and positive. Be efficient, approachable, and unobtrusive
PositiveA high point (Completion of a complex flow, first-time success with a process)Confirmation of success. A positive affirmation and clear next stepPositive and encouraging. Be congratulatory and forward-looking
NegativeAn error or problem (Access denied, system failure)Resolution and reassurance. A clear solution and reassuranceKnowledgeable and encouraging. Be clear, informative, and calm

Tone balances the interaction, leaving the user in a net-positive place emotionally.

Every interaction deserves consideration. If you can write in the Twilio Voice and use appropriate tonal qualities, your content will have a strong, user-focused foundation.

Support

If you need support, please open a new issue in our GitHub repository. Please try to provide as much detail as possible in your issue.

Contributing

The Paste design system is open source and contributions are welcome. Check out the project on GitHub to learn more about contributing.

Copyright © 2020 Twilio, Inc.