They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. – Unknown (attributed to many)
In the fast-paced digital landscape of today, where user experience holds the key, every aspect of your product matters. From its visual design to its functionality, each interaction with your product influences how users perceive it. Nevertheless, one vital factor often goes underestimated – the power of words. This is precisely where the expertise of a UX writer becomes essential.
This article explores the unsubstituted role of a UX writer within your product team, delving into their unique skills. By the end, you'll understand how a dedicated UX writer can enhance user experience and greatly impact your product's success.
What is UX writing?
UX writing is the process of creating written content that seamlessly integrates with digital products. Its goal is to meet user needs, help them grasp the product's functions, enable easy navigation, and encourage user interaction. At the same time, UX writing helps to create a unique voice that helps the brand differentiate from others, build user trust and increase brand loyalty.
Pieces of UX writing that help users figure out how to do things are collectively called microcopy. These can include text field labels, buttons, and error messages, among others. However, UX writing does not only involve writing microcopy. It's similar to visual or interaction design but instead of using pixels, it uses words to communicate with users and enhance their experience.
Therefore, UX writing uses techniques similar to any type of design, from conducting user research to testing copy with users. UX writing process includes elements such as:
- Defining the target audience
- Defining the brand identity
- Creating a content style guide
- Creating microcopy and other UX copy
- User testing
Who is the UX writer?
A UX writer is an expert who crafts the communication between products and users. Their role is pivotal in forging a harmonious human-computer interaction, ensuring that using digital products is both intuitive and enjoyable. While the title “UX writer” is relatively new, its importance is rapidly growing within product teams.
Involved in every stage of the product life cycle, UX writers collaborate with UX designers, developers, and other stakeholders. This collaboration ensures consistent messaging throughout the product, helping users achieve their goals without losing sight of business objectives.
UX writer responsibilities
The job of a UX writer is to:
- Conduct user research and identify the real needs of users
- Establish the brand's tone and voice, creating a content style guide around it
- Write copy that appears throughout the user journey
- Test copy to check if the language of the product is clear, predictable, and consistent for users
- Collaborate with the product team and stakeholders
The most vital part of a UX writer's responsibility is research. It's necessary to start conceptualizing how a company should communicate with the user. UX writers can work with UX researchers to conduct user interviews. It's crucial to understand user needs and to get familiar with the specific language of the audience. UX writers also collaborate with UX researchers to gather and analyze data to create user personas and empathy maps. They also conduct competitor analysis to see how competitors communicate with them. This allows UX writers to determine how users respond to this messaging and analyze trends.
Another important aspect of a UX writer's job is establishing the tone and voice of how the brand wants to communicate with the user. At this stage, the UX writer works closely with the whole team. Team members complement each other and provide feedback to create the best experience for the user.
The UX writer creates the copy and performs an ongoing evaluation of the content strategy. While UI and UX designers create wireframes, UX writers have to create the copy that matches them.
UX writers are also responsible for proofreading and testing the copy. Testing the copy can be done at the same time as usability tests.
After the product has been launched, the job of the UX writer is to manage and optimize existing content. UX writers test copy with users and review the analytics. This way, they can optimize the messaging and constantly improve the communication to provide an even better user experience.
Practicing UX writing requires being highly flexible and presenting a vast array of different skills. The skillset that UX writers need to fulfill their responsibilities includes technical knowledge of the product, data analysis, and user psychology.
UX writer skills
Effective communication forms the bedrock of user experience. For businesses to truly resonate with their audience, the role of a UX writer becomes indispensable. They not only shape the dialogue between the product and the user but also harmonize the brand's voice with its core objectives. Here's a breakdown of essential UX writing skills:
- Impeccable writing skills: Efficiency with words and sensitivity to spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Analytical skills. Gathering and reviewing data and creating an organized strategy that translates this data into a copy.
- User-focused mindset: Approaching users with curiosity and empathy. A UX writer must understand the user's needs and behavior patterns to create a copy that resonates with them.
- Business understanding: Knowing a company's business objectives and values to create brand identity to properly describe brand values and identity.
- Creativity: Helps to create engaging, entertaining, encouraging copy tailored to the target audience and helps establish a unique brand voice.
- Storytelling skills: Ensuring the brand story is consistent and cohesive throughout the entire experience.
- Teamwork: Working closely with the product team, marketing, and stakeholders.
The variety of skills needed for UX writing proves that this job involves more than just rearranging words. A great UX writer can understand a bigger perspective of how the product works and how people use it to create a user journey that benefits the product and the user.
UX writer vs. copywriter: How they are different
While copywriting is part of a marketing strategy to persuade and sell the product, UX writing focuses on delivering a pleasurable user experience and guiding users toward taking action.
Copywriters are a part of the marketing team, which means they are responsible for creating promotional materials that aim to persuade users and, as a result, increase conversion rates.
They use more engaging and entertaining language, which is possible because they can convey their message in more words. They also often use more selective language that attracts customers.
Copywriters create messaging around the finished product and aren't directly involved in product development. This means that they can usually work alone and are more sales-oriented than focused on the product itself.
A UX writer is actively involved in product development and UX design, and their role is to guide the user through their experience with the product. They persuade the users to take action that brings them closer to the desired result rather than strictly convincing them to purchase.
UX writers must collaborate with different teams and be more involved in product development. The messaging UX writers create is more product-oriented and uses simple language to better explain the product.
Additionally, UX writing is also different from technical writing. Technical writers focus strictly on clarity and accuracy rather than user experience. Examples of technical writing include instruction manuals or product specifications where complex topics need to be explained in simple terms.
Chat GPT vs. UX writer: How they are different
AI continues to impact the digital industry by automating some tasks while completely eliminating others. UX writing is one of the areas where AI can be a huge help by streamlining processes and facilitating everyday tasks.
UX writers can effectively use AI for research, identifying the target audiences and their needs, crafting the perfect tone of voice, and creating content guidelines. These tasks can be accomplished much faster and more easily using AI correctly.
However, UX writing isn't only about writing and data coming together. Therefore, human writers' empathy and curiosity are crucial for creating an authentic user experience that people will love. Also, UX writers are aware of the brand's unique identity that AI can't put into words.
Additionally, while everyone in the company can use AI, it doesn't collaborate with different teams and their members. The goal of UX writing is to bring together a product vision resulting from teamwork. This way, the product can be cohesive, and the communication with the user is consistent.
What your business can gain with UX writer
The product team might think they don't need someone responsible for content. After all, it's just a couple of words – an occasional label or a CTA.
However, the communication with the user sets the tone for an entire experience with the product. And without an expert onboard, it is set up to fail because it's not receiving the prioritization and care it deserves.
Here are the most important benefits of UX writing for businesses:
- UX writers are aware of language nuances that developers and UI designers aren't. And that's what sets apart a good product from a great one.
- UX writers use their knowledge and experience to help users accomplish tasks with clarity and confidence.
- UX writing can help distinguish your brand from the competition and make it memorable for the users.
- The UX writer is responsible for making your interface engaging and leaves the user wanting more.
- UX writers can also reduce friction between the user and the product, increasing usability. They prevent users from wasting time and leaving your product frustrated.
- Great UX writing effectively prevents users from having a bad experience and damaging relationships with your brand.
The microcopy can be overlooked during the stages of UX design if there’s a lack of time, funds, or awareness.
It's worth looking into the possible downsides of not having a UX writer on board. Overlooking the role of the UX writer can cause delays in projects. Because nobody is held accountable for writing a copy, it's left to the last possible moment, which results in poor-quality content.
Ignoring the role of UX writing can also result in insufficient or biased usability testing results. Ineffective copy can also cause accessibility issues. If the buttons aren't written correctly, they will confuse the user and take longer to achieve the desired result. Ultimately, you will lose the trust of the user and will damage the brand.
UX writing examples
Effective UX writing relies on clarity, conciseness, usefulness, and consistency. By providing users with information about the actions they can take or have taken, UX writers can create an engaging, informative, and satisfying user experience.
First great UX writing example can be found in the Bitcoin exchange app, Kraken. They use UX writing to highlight the brand’s identity in a fun, lighthearted way.
Another excellent example of UX writing that emphasizes brand personality is Headspace. Their error message refers to one of their features which is breathing exercises.
Slack is an app that has impeccable UX writing. Their empty state message is clear and engaging and makes the user feel accomplished.
Numerous companies, such as Merriam-Webster, Slack, Headspace, Flixbus, Dribbble, Uber Eats, and Medium, have successfully implemented UX writing in their digital products, showcasing the power and value of well-crafted content in enhancing user experience.
User experience writing is a relatively new field, but more in-house product teams have decided to create UX writing positions. It has emerged as a crucial component in designing user-friendly digital products.
UX writing involves crafting copy in digital products, such as labels, buttons, and menus, to help users navigate and interact with them. UX writing aims to improve the user experience by providing clear, consistent, and helpful messaging that guides users in accomplishing their goals.
It goes beyond simply writing microcopy and requires a deep understanding of users' needs and behaviors. Like the design, UX writing involves conducting user research, defining brand values and identity, establishing a target audience, and creating a consistent tone and voice.
Businesses can benefit greatly from having a UX writer on their team, as they can create a memorable experience, increase usability, engage users, and enhance brand recognition. Neglecting the role of UX writing can lead to delays, poor content quality, biased usability testing results, and potential accessibility issues.