What is UX writing?
What is UX copywriting or writing? It involves crafting the words people see and hear when they interact with a piece of software. Think of it as a conversation between a product and its user.
The practice is employed mainly at software businesses and agencies offering digital products. As a result, UX copywriting is a specialized type of writing. It has unique constraints, because it often has to be extremely concise, yet communicate a lot of meaning. It’s a concentrated language that helps users and businesses achieve their goals.
How does UX writing work?
It works by having a clear approach. Often, UX writing uses imperative statements, telling users what they need to do.It may also ask the user a question. Both options usually give the user options to reply with. These interactions are simple and clear.
You can set the tone via the method you use. For example, do you want to guide and inform with a conversational tone? Or are you aiming for minimal and transactional, eliminating non-essential info?
The answer will depend on your business and the brand personality you’re aiming for. There are important questions to ask for either approach, including:
- What does your quantitative data look like?
- Do people get stuck at a certain stage, and if so, why?
- How does the existing copy fit your brand?
- Who are your stakeholders and what will they think?
- Do the words still fit when translated?
UX writing as a design discipline
Designers express complex concepts in powerful graphic form. UX microcopy bridges the gap between design and content. UX writers:
- Interpret research into actionable language
- Ensure message cohesion within diverse teams
- Humanize digital products by appealing to emotion
UX writers have a crucial role in the future of design. A design may have many user touchpoints that UX writers can bring to life.
What does a UX writer do?
You encounter UX microcopy every time you use the internet. If a UX writer has done a good job, you don’t even notice it. There’s a lot involved in a UX writer’s role, including:
- The microcopy itself
- Journey mapping
- Handling error messages
- Email and SMS notifications
- UX content strategy guidelines
- User personas
- Copy architecture and hierarchy
It’s about more than words. UX writers play a hand in strategy, too. Strategic writing for UX is an important part of the role. For example, UX writers put the user first and think about them actually using the software. They look at what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t.
What makes for efficient UX writing
UX writing is efficient in the same ways other types of writing are efficient. Qualities like clarity, consistency, precision, and self-awareness are important. The writer also needs the ability to revise copy and to pay attention to context and audience.
Words can confuse and annoy a user if they’re not used properly. That’s why microcopy needs to be easy to understand, empathetic, and hold attention.
Tone of voice in UX writing
The specific tone of voice depends on the brand a company is building. In general though, the words a UX writer uses should be simple and human. A UX writer aims to help people use and understand an app or online interface with ease. They should prioritize simplicity, clarity, and context.
What’s more, UX writers don’t use technical or professional jargon. They avoid long and complex language and don’t use passive voice. Furthermore, they encourage call-to-action language and positive meta language. For example, “Wrong password” would be better replaced with “This password doesn’t look right.”
Nonetheless, a UX writer should also keep in mind the brand tone of voice when creating copy. For example:
- Who is your brand and how does it sound?
- Do you have users or customers?
- Do you provide items or services?
The tone of voice is the way you speak to your audience, so UX writers should be consistent in their approach.
Why should UX writing be a part of the UX design process?
User experience writing should be a part of the design process to create an experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The writing and design aspects need to be accessible to users with different abilities. The teams need to work together to create that inclusive experience.
A product can communicate using words alone. It’s much harder to communicate just using design. That’s why you need both. When they work in unison, magic can happen. That magic includes higher conversions, better retention rates, and happier users.
Consider UX microcopy during the earliest phases of design and not as an afterthought. Some principles to follow include:
- Test, improve, and evolve
- Provide a choice for users to move them to a decision
- Be concise, original, and never obscure
- Take cues from gamification and psychology principles
- Be well-positioned within an interface’s design hierarchy
- Implement humor strategically and sparingly
- Maintain brand tone and personality
- Engage as well as inform