Voice and tone

Learn how to apply Shopify’s voice and choose the right tone, no matter what product, feature, or app you’re building.


What is voice and tone?

Shopify’s voice is a reflection of who we are. We should always sound like Shopify. Our tone adapts appropriately to the context and situation. The best way to decide what tone to use is to ask yourself what the merchant is likely feeling when they encounter your message so you can decide how to respond.

For example, when a merchant makes a sale for the first time, they might be feeling excited, accomplished, and maybe a little bit unsure of what to do next. We can respond to this by congratulating them and giving them the information they need to process their order.

When a merchant encounters an error message, they might be feeling anxious, stressed out, and worried about the impact it could have on their business. We can respond to this by stating what went wrong and giving clear direction about how to fix the problem. We never want to use a negative or frightening tone.


Voice guidelines

Shopify is always:

Confident, not arrogant

  • Use expertise to help merchants succeed, don’t talk down to them
  • Be plain-spoken, not pretentious
  • Be specific when explaining a merchant benefit without making a feature sound better than it is

Diagram of Confident illustration

Empathetic, not overprotective

  • Communicate in a way that respects merchant emotions and situations
  • Offer the merchant encouragement and practical advice
  • Clearly explain how the merchant will be impacted when something goes wrong, but don’t over-explain with redundant content

Diagram of Empathetic illustration

Transparent, not blunt

  • Be upfront and honest with merchants, even if we make a mistake
  • Back up claims with facts and data
  • Communicate with clarity and empathy—be direct, not insensitive

Diagram of Transparent illustration


Tone in action

Here are some examples of how Shopify’s tone changes depending on the context. Positive, neutral, or negative situations will change the tone of our message.

Positive situations

Do

Be encouraging and offer the merchant a next step.

You did it! You remitted your Shopify Capital advance.
Continue growing your business with another round of financing.

Don't

Take credit for the merchant’s success and presume to know what they need.

Shopify Capital made your business grow!
Know what you need? Another round of financing to keep expanding.

Do

Express genuine happiness for the merchant.

Congrats! You made your first sale.
John Smith from Toronto, Canada bought blue suede shoes.

Don't

Risk offending the merchant by assuming their journey was easy.

Congrats on your first sale!
Wasn’t that easy? John Smith from Toronto, Canada bought blue suede shoes.

Neutral situations

Do

Pitch our product by explaining the specific merchant benefits.

Introducing the new Buy Button
Make it your own with custom fonts, colors, and styles. It also loads 50% faster so your visitors won’t miss it.

Don't

Only talk about ourselves and assume the merchant’s experience was, and will be, easy.

Get Shopify’s new Buy Button
It’s never been easier to customize the fonts, colors, and styles of Buy Buttons. It’s also twice as fast.

Do

Provide enough detail to give the merchant confidence in the process.

Your financing request for $10,000 is being reviewed.

Don't

Be overbearing and tell the merchant how to run their business.

Your Shopify Capital financing request for $10,000 is being reviewed. Please wait until you receive a confirmation before making any changes to your business.

Negative situation

Do

Be clear about the problem and how the merchant will be affected.

Some of today’s sales data hasn’t been updated yet. This will be fixed shortly. Your data is safe, and your actual sales are not affected.

Don't

Ask merchants to trust us without providing data or context.

Today’s sales data might not be accurate, but don’t worry—it’s just temporary.

Do

Be clear about what went wrong and how the merchant can fix it.

Product weight can’t be negative. Change the product weight to be greater than or equal to 0 and try again.

Don't

Don’t use scary, technical words in error messages.

Error
Line items grams must be greater than or equal to 0.