A UX Writer is a job that no one has heard of, but everyone has benefited from. A UX writer is the tour guide of your product experiences. We place signposts and snappy explanations throughout the product to enable users to reach their product goals comfortably and without taking any wrong turns.
In recent years, writing copy for digital products is no longer the responsibility of UX Designers but its own specialty, UX Writing.
What Type of Products Need UX Writers?
UX Writing is often symbolic of digital space, but as the specialty evolves, so too will its proliferation across all products. Whether it is a phone app, an Ikea standing desk, a theme park, productivity software, a streaming service, or your online banking system, UX Writers ensure your experience with the product is both purposeful and delightful.
Imagine a theme park without a single direction. Where do I enter? How long is the queue for the Big Dipper? What height must I be for the ride? What fear-level is this coaster? How do I fasten the harness? Where is the nearest exit? Damn, where did I park my car?
Why is UX Writing Important?
The UX writer leads the user through the product. They know what the user wants, what they need and use language to enhance the product experience and expedite goal achievement.
A UX Writer never works in isolation. They are the swiss army knife of product design.
Design: A UX Writer uses language to guide users through a design. To do this effectively, they must understand heuristics, design principles and be able to use design software.
Research: Without understanding a user’s goals, pain points, behaviors, and problems, the UX Writer is ineffective. Research also involves identifying the language users use when talking about issues or a specific product journey.
Brand: Every Brand should have a list of guiding principles, and it is the UX Writer’s role to apply the principles to product copy. Consistent application of the brand principles forms the Writing Guidelines.
Brand Principles + Writing Guidelines = Product Voice (personality).
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Before Writing a single word, a UX Writer must:
1. Understand the Brand, the product goals, and the company.
2. Research the Target Audience to determine behaviors, pain points, needs, and goals.
3. Have a clear style guide to refer to for all product copy. We’ll get to this later in the article.
What are the writing responsibilities of UX Writers?
A sleek design without meaningful copy is an unusable product. Labels, error messages, menu options, invitations, onboarding, payment confirmations, email messaging, and product descriptions are all a UX Writer’s responsibility.
A UX Writer vs. Copywriter, Aren’t they the Same?
- A UX Writer is a Product Specialist who follows a process grounded in research and usability.
- A Copywriter, on the other hand, often focused on marketing, storytelling, self-promotion, or educating their readers.
Just remember, a UX Writer’s audience is a user while a Copywriter’s audience is a reader.
Some Signs your Design Team Needs a UX Writer
Product Microcopy should be clear, purposeful, useful, and delightful. If there is a disconnect between copy and design, you might notice the following:
- Users make multiple click-errors when navigating your product.
- There is a high bounce rate for new users?
- The language in your product is not the same users use to describe your product.
- So, you have great UI (visual design) on your platform, but people don’t know how to use it?
- Users don’t feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of their product journey.
Only through usability testing and can you truly understand whether your microcopy and the overall designs are effective.
A Practical Checklist for UX Writers?
A checklist is a must when analyzing or generating UX writing within an application or piece of software.
- User First: Ensure that you know the user’s goals, pain points, and behaviors. This can be achieved through qualitative methods such as user interviews, contextual observation, and ethnographic studies.
- Branding: Identify three words that represent the Brand. Create microcopy that speaks to the Brand.
- Consistency: Use a Writing Style Guide to help generate copy. The guide will ensure consistency of language, punctuation, voice, and capitalization across the site.
- Clarity: Ensure language is jargon-free and means the same to you as it does to the user.
- Consistency: Users will not read lengthy copy. Ensure words are scannable and cut out any word or phrase that does not have meaning.
- Useful: Ensure language directs the next action of a user. Keep that task flow in mind.
- Test: Only through usability testing can you truly understand if the writing effectively meets the user’s needs. If you want to discover how users respond to it different product copy, A/B testing can also be useful.
Practical Tools for UX Writers
UX writing tools are product centric and are used to standardize the voice throughout a user’s journey.
A Voice Chart is a great starting point for any UX Writer as it enables them to understand both the brand and the product.
In the empty chart below, you will find the six Aspects of Voice in the vertical column and the Product Principles horizontally.
An effective voice chart should be completed in collaboration with the marketing and branding teams. When completing a chart, think of the Voice as a product’s personality. Below is a chart created for a Financial Education company.
Once you have the Voice/personality of a product, it is time to determine the Tone/mood. Remember, a Voice shouldn’t change, but a Tone shifts with the context.
A Tone Spectrum maps the changes in tone across a user’s journey.
This article is just the foundation. As UX Writing evolves as a profession, so too will the job description.