Case Story 
Handshake App

a better way to pay

View Prototype
iphone mockup
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The Handshake mobile billing app was designed by UX Writers Collective as part of their UX Writing Fundamentals Certification program. My task as the UX Writer was to research and deeply understand the product and target audience, then write clear, simple copy that guides users through the app. In this role, I:

1. Conducted market research
2. Applied research findings to my content strategy
3. Crafted concise microcopy
4. Tested the product and offered feedback to improve it

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Handshake app was a high fidelity prototype when I began working on it.

While much of the mobile interface copy was already drafted, the language and microcopy did very little to guide users through mobile flows and help them find what they needed. The main challenge? This collaborative business app was designed for both business owners and their freelance employees. Despite the vastly different business needs of these two vastly different user groups, our app had but one lonely interface.

GOAL: Solve for each user groups' needs by identifying pain points, then write strategic copy for two distinct user flows: one for business owners and one for freelancers.

People working and meditating in an office

How are the needs of CEOs and freelancers connected?

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As a book nerd with a background in psychology and anthropology, I love data. A lot.

I dove into the research, eager to learn what these two user groups might need most from an app like Handshake. With this goal in mind, I conducted independent market research and studied the resources my team provided, namely two personas featuring Tom, a seasoned business owner, and a young freelancer named Kelly.

View Research Files
Sticky notes with writing

finding a voice

After the research stage, I better understood my users and felt confident about creating content that resonated with both groups. So I carefully crafted a trusty editorial style guide. I selected language and styles that reflected Handshake app's formal yet friendly voice — but I also kept my users front and center. How could I transform this app into something that speaks directly to them?

Design is about communication. Writers must design a conversation between the product and the people who use it.

Well-crafted copy that reflects a company's unique style helps to build trust and keep the conversation going. Throughout the UX process, I revised my guide as I learned more and more about the people who want an app like Handshake.

Style Guide
View Research Files

user behavior

So what exactly did I learn? Well, it's worth noting that CEOs and their free-spirited freelancers may not appear to have much in common at first glance. But when I dug deeper, I discovered they shared many important experiences.

Hands holding credit cards

They're hyperconscious of money.

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They juggle a lot of work.

Someone's hand holding a phone and clicking on the screen

Inefficiency frustrates them.

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pain points

Here's the short version of my findings: both business owners and freelancers want efficient work processes and clear lines of communication. And both user groups appear to be frustrated by the other group's lack of...something.

I get it! I mean, what's more stressful than a business owner who always pays her employees late? Or a freelance worker who keeps missing deadlines? As I logged these familiar stories of dissatisfaction, I noticed a discrepancy. My data indicated that both groups were hardworking and seemed to be pulling their weight in the business world. So perhaps payments and deadlines weren't actually getting overlooked. Perhaps the real problem was simply...communication!

Or rather, a lack of it. Business owners needed a way to view freelancer progress and pay them without delays, while freelancers needed a way to track their hours and promptly bill their clients. But they didn't have one.

Enter Handshake: A better way to bill and pay.

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It was a lightbulb moment.

Maybe these two "vastly different" user groups didn't actually need vastly different interfaces. What they both need is a clear line of communication and an efficient platform to bill clients, make payments, and update one another on project progress — all in one place.

The high fidelity Handshake mock up certainly had the bones needed for the job. The mobile flow was functional on a macro level, but the app's written content was...less functional. It lacked clear UX microcopy and failed to guide users intuitively through the interface. It caused friction and frustration. And it needed a total content reboot.

So I rewrote the microcopy and polished each mobile flow to improve usability and adhere to brand standards. Check out the new Handshake app below!


before & after

PROBLEM: Confusing Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons and a missing tagline.

SOLUTION: I swapped the awkward "Go forward" button for standard sign in onboarding CTAs.

Then I wrote a somewhat musical tagline that matched Handshake's professional yet laid-back style: 
Meet a better way to bill & pay.

Before and after mobile screens

PROBLEM: Confusing headers and subheads.

SOLUTION: I added a simple sign in & sign up form with clear labels.

Before and after mobile screens

PROBLEM: No information hierarchy.

SOLUTION: Without organized content, users can't skim content quickly. But they want to! 

So I added a clear header and skimmable prompt.

Before and after mobile screens

PROBLEM: Clutter and wordiness that places an unnecessary cognitive burden on the user.


I reduced a bulky 38-word screen to 18 concise words.

Before and after mobile screens

PROBLEM: Off-brand.

SOLUTION: Fix the typos!!! Stop yelling!!! Professionalism is important no matter how whimsy the company vibe.

My copy is upbeat but also reflects the friendly, formal Handshake brand.

Before and after mobile screens
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Lastly, I conducted a final proofread to ensure our app wasn't...


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When it comes to UX and microcopy, less is more.

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In the battle to cut out words, we also risk cutting too much.

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Make no mistake, errors are bad for business. So I proofread. A lot.

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final outcomes

With intuitive and clear microcopy, Handshake app now guides users seamlessly through a series of mobile flows tailored to business owner and freelancer needs. I rewrote nearly all the microcopy provided, and in doing so happily transformed a frustrating experience into something fun and functional.

Freelancers get paid fast, bosses micromanage less, and everyone goes home happy.

Before I said goodbye to Handshake for good, I recommended an additional round of usability testing to measure user behavior and help the design team target and fix all features that increase user frustration. Once our talented UI team submits two iterations of a high fidelity prototype, A/B testing will help them better understand user preferences.

The final result? An incredible product designed for business-minded users on both sides of the mobile billing coin.

Our Kickstarter
Eight screens in a mobile prototype

Meet Handshake App:
A better way to bill and pay.