What is UX writing? Why is it important for UX designers?

What is UX writing? Why is it important for UX designers?

Reading Time: 10 minutes

A good user experience doesn’t come only from good visuals or creative components. Many small aspects work together to create a good UX and one such aspect is UX writing.

Here in this article, we will explain in detail the meaning of UX writing and why is it important for UX designers to take their solutions and strategies to next level.

We will also check some examples of UX writing and how can a UX designer be effective in UX writing.

What is UX writing?

UX writing is a method of writing content that is for user interfaces to lead and communicate to users of a digital product. It’s about giving voice to your interface, mainly to assist the users.  

The goal of UX writing is to design and establish a conversation between users and a digital product.

To explain a bit further, the content writing for the components of an interface such as action buttons, navigations, status messages, system notes, and even the page titles with an aim to serve as hints for users. 

A UX writer will use simple words in the content so the user can easily understand and navigate to achieve their task. 

UX writing places your digital product in a way the customer can relate to, not only with the product but also with emotions. UX content is short, clear, consistent, contextual, useful and knows the audience.

Good UX writing adds great value to your overall UX. It gives the consumer an experience with the help of words.

It is not new; but in the last few years, it has become a buzzword. 

This form was introduced in the late ’90s by Microsoft. They wanted to simplify their technical writing so their consumers could have a better understanding. 

Since then UX writing has come a long way. Big names are now aiming for UX writers and are officially creating job openings for this post.

Also, do note that UX writing is not only a guidance text

  1. Copies can be written to generate interest in the product.
  2. Can be just information to delight users.
  3. Can also be words they listen to (audio copies) while using the interface.

Here are some examples that will help you understand these points

Google Hotel Booking Example for UX writing

Here in the above example, just changing the copy increases user engagement. Check availability made the users comfortable that they won’t be accounted to just explore and check the available booking options; whereas book a room tells that user that they can book the room by selecting the check-in and check-out dates. 

As a UX designer or UX writer, you can leverage A/B testing to know which copy is performing better. To explore more about it, read our article on how to improve UX through A/B testing.

Swiggy's Maintenance Mode Example

And here in the second example, you can see the message conveying to the user to not get frustrated as Swiggy’s application is going through some technical maintenance. It is trying to minimise user friction.

Siri Mode Example

With the world evolving more with digitalisation, the design and just words alone will have a hard time sustaining if they can’t appeal to human emotions.

We, at present, have Artificial Intelligence(AI) that has a conversational or narrative interface because many companies realise the need of writing or generate content that is understood and felt by the consumers.

To further know about UX writing, let us also try to understand the differences between other forms of writing.

UX writing vs copywriting 

When you compare UX writing with other forms of writing, in many ways it is just writing but with a different intent.

Let us take a look at what makes UX writing different from content writing or copywriting.

Different goals

When we talk about copywriting, the aim is to inform, sell, market, attract, or describe a product. 

But in UX writing the goal is to guide how to use a product and make the interface talk to them upon interactions. 

For one person, the task can be very simple and for another, he would be completely lost. The focus of UX writing is on easing the problem by creating content that will bring more engagement.

Highly concise

In copywriting, you can elaborate the message to help the reader connect and understand your point. 

And as UX writing content is for digital interfaces, there is a limitation of space and number of words. UX writing has to be concise and to the point to connect, and communicate the meaning.  

Small issues, big impact

UX writing is considered an important part of product development. It aids in the development of the project and makes sure that the user can understand the actions.

Simply writing with the knowledge of the product may not work. A UX writer has to be aware of both; product goals and user goals. He has to write content to balance the usability, functionality as well as emotions while doing the task.

Intro Example

Here in the above example, you can see a small change can increase the engagement just by aligning the copy not with the feature but with the user intent.

Working in teams

A content writer generally works with a single stakeholder and researches on their own for a topic. 

Whereas, a UX writer is always working with the entire team to understand the perspective. They work with the client, designers, developers, attorneys and marketing team to contemplate their point of view.

Different concerns

Yes, both of them work with words, facts and data and yet their concerns are different. 

Eye Tracking of Content Example

A UX writer is concerned with the engagement of the content, and usability of the product that makes users stick to the product and makes sure that users are satisfied.

Whereas a content writer writes to share knowledge, give insights, talk about the product, SEO and branding and get people to spend time on the page.

Considers inclusiveness

A UX writer has to think of all types of target users and make his content inclusive along with design.

A UX writer (and designer) is responsible to make the digital product accessible to all types of users and if required they must work on ways to make it accessible.

“The difference between regular content and UX content is not only visible but felt”

Well, now let’s understand the importance of UX writing

Why is UX writing important for UX designers?

A UX designer is responsible for everything concerned with the user experience of a digital product. Some companies consider UX writing as the responsibility of the UX designer. While other agencies have dedicated UX writers on their teams.

If you understand the requirements: writing for a digital product requires an understanding of the goal, the solution, UX strategy, and a writer should be able to empathise with a user. All these are similar to the skills of a UX designer.

But one doesn’t need to be good at both: UX writing as well as UX designing. However, a UX designer must have a good understanding of UX writing. It is a plus if you hire a writer who has a good understanding of UX. 

Ideally, a writer has to work in collaboration with a UX designer to get the right UX Writing in place. 

A UX designer wants their users to have a guided experience and to get that done he should communicate the flow, requirements and strategy to the UX writer. Then UX writer is responsible to create copies of trigger points that can motivate the user to act.

Exploring Netflix User Experience

When the user is not guided properly or can not understand how to use the app, it causes friction. It is this fiction that frustrates the users and can make them discontinue your app or product. And that is exactly why UX writing is Important practice that is taken very seriously by companies as well as UX Designers. 

When users are using an app, they do not just look at it, they experience it. They study the design and how comfortable the activities are and then they 

The role of a UX writer may sound fun and game although it requires precise control and an understanding of the directions to aid the customers to interact with the app easily. 

How to be efficient at UX writing?

We know design and writing go hand in hand to create an experience. If we observe closely, we will realise that we are surrounded by experiences. One can take inspiration from any rational experiences and can reflect the same in his UX writing.

In a way, a designer is a storyteller who uses designing tools to depict a story whereas a UX writer uses written words to convey the depiction.

Let’s also understand the psychology behind it to be more efficient and bring the mindset. As humans, we are motivated by the fulfilment of a task and personal growth. 

When you guide a user, with design and content, the user finds the interface friendly and when the product delivers the right outcome, it generates a positive user experience. This will increase the usage of your product.

To be efficient at UX writing you don’t need a special out of the box creativity or special skillset. One can practice the following mindset while writing: 

Practice creating guidelines

You may think “Come on! Really! Who needs a plan to write?” “Aren’t you a writer? The copy must come naturally to you?”. All these are incorrect perceptions. One can do it without a guideline but you will be less efficient.

Before you write, you should gather information and knowledge about the product and create a guideline around voice and tone. This will help ideate better as well as it will give a consistent connection between system and user.

Practice writing clear, short and consistent microcopies 

While drafting UX content, you must have a clear understanding of the product, the usefulness of the product and the user. Practice writing simple microcopies to get the command of the language.

An app without clear navigation buttons is no good but it will create friction. Keep the call to action button text as clear and simple as possible.

CRED Rewards & User Experience

Check this above example of the CRED app and how copies to are clean and consistent to invite friends.

Practice copies to initiate a conversation

You can not connect to the customer if you put up dull and monotonous content. User interaction with a system is a communication method and one-sided communication is confusing. 

So practice writing content to make a conversation. For instance : 

Alert Copy Example

In the above example, the text on the app page is clear and explains to the user what is wrong and where he needs to improve.

Do not let your users do the “guesswork” 

Practice writing copies that don’t make users think. At times single word may confuse the user. It should both guide users to get oriented as well as urge them to stick around. 

A well-placed phrase can make the user take action. These can be simple words, see the example of Netflix:

Netflix Sign Up UX

In the above example, the text on the main page of Netflix is clear and answers to most common questions of users and encourages them to try their service.

Practice writing copies that connect emotions

Emotions are essential. We all have a reaction to certain experiences ranging from Good-Neutral-Bad.

Practice writing copies to connect the right emotions. These emotions can create a long-lasting relationship as it changes the way the brain reacts. With negative experiences or any hurdles, users will start noticing everything wrong.

Practice testing & double-checking

Try to participate in user tests, prepare questions that you want to ask users as well as observe their behaviour. It is better to double-check your copies with actual users. Any type of misunderstanding will create a negative impact on the user experience.

UX writing is an interesting blend of understanding the audience, using psychology and connecting designs with emotions to give human-centred products and that is why this field is gaining a lot of attention from writers as well as companies.

What is the future of UX writing?

Over the past few years, it was a fairly new term, but now UX writing roles is gaining popularity. You can see many companies have started looking for UX writers. 

For those in the UX community, it might be old news, but for others, it’s a completely new term: the UX writer. 

When you look in Indeed or LinkedIn jobs search, you will find types of companies searching for UX writers: From India’s Hottest startups like Upstox, Ola, CRED, Zoho, Paytm etc to global tech companies like Google, Uber, IBM, Facebook, Freshworks: are growing their UX team by adding UX writing, content strategy, or content design experts.

If you are looking for a future in UX writing as a fresher? You also need to understand that UX writing is a very collaborative Job. It will help a lot if you are friendly, patient, thoughtful, kind, and well-spoken. 

You should also set an expectation to spend lots of time in calls, meetings and testing sessions, writing synchronically with people from many different fields of expertise.  

There are many new and old examples to learn from. The community of digital designers and writers are becoming more creative, smarter and strategic day by day.

Final thoughts

A UX writer must have clear thoughts and ideas while writing a human-oriented piece. The users will not have enough time to understand the whole product and it becomes crucial to keep the content on point. The flow of writing should be conversational style because it is easy to connect.

We must put ourselves in the place of the user when we come up with engaging content to understand the effectiveness of the content. 

Stay away from the guessing game as consumers will have limited time in hand will using your product. 

The best way to come up with heart-winning content is to test your ideas on a real audience and if any failure comes your way handle it sensitively.

You may also want to read on:

Design Tips for Building an Effective Blog

How to Write a UX Proposal?

Creative Director and Founder of Octet Design Studio- Aakash Jethwani
Aakash Jethwani

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