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  • Writer's picturekapil dwivedi

What is UX Writing? The Art of Humanizing Words in Digital Products

Updated: Jul 26, 2022


Language and words play extremely crucial roles in product design and development. Well-crafted words impact users and help them to make informed decisions. Within the past few years, businesses have started emphasizing more and more on the words that appear on the user interface creating a new job opportunity i.e. UX writing.

There has been a surge of interest in UX writing, which is relatively new and often misunderstood in the context of content development and strategy. With 'UX writer' becoming an increasingly recognizable job title and several companies searching for one, we decided to explain everything you need to know about UX writing.

The Definition of UX Writing

UX writing is defined as the practice of ideating, researching curating, and testing the content that appears on the user interface of digital products. In other words, the art of creating words that people see while using software is called UX writing.

Often confused with traditional marketing copywriting used to market products and services, UX writing is a completely different discipline. The primary objective of UX writing is to guide users to navigate from one point to another and perform desired actions effectively and efficiently while interacting with digital products.


As we continue to surround ourselves more and more with complex digital products, the need for guidance to use them seamlessly continues to skyrocket. This explains why the demand for good UX writers is on the rise.

Types of UX Content

The type of UX content curated by a writer will largely depend on the requirements of the company and product. However, Generically, UX content can be classified into the following types:

  • UX copy (Content that shapes and builds a holistic user experience, includes supporting, emotion-building content)

  • UI copy (Content on the user interface- the voice of the product, including Call to action, menus, pop-ups, toast messages, warnings, errors, etc.)

  • Engagement copy (Content used for engaging users while interacting with the software)

  • Communication copy (Emails, messages, push notifications)

  • Microcopy (other miscellaneous messages and in-app copy)

The target audience and medium (web, mobile) changes with products. However, in most cases, the content is curated for software and digital products.

UX Writing Fundamentals: 5 C's of Effective UX Content Curation

If you are planning to kickstart your career in UX writing or trying to understand the process in detail it is important to be familiar with the fundamentals of UX writing. The fundamentals of UX writing can be denoted in the form of 5 C's.

A writer should follow the 5 C's of UX writing when curating content for UX writing projects. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Clarity The clarity in UX writing is one of the most important fundamentals as it enables users to stay on the right track and perform the desired action with minimal intrusion. UX writing can never be effective if it lacks clarity. The life hack to keep your copy clear is using simple and explanatory words that are not heavy on vocabulary. In UX writing, simple vocabulary and concise sentence structure help to make copy clear for the user, which improves their experience.

  • Conciseness Every time a user lands on a software/product, their objective is to perform a given task in a limited time, without thinking too hard. Recognizing this aspect makes it easier for UX writers to understand and adhere to the mantra of KISS- keep it short and simple. In the majority of the cases, users tend to scan the data on the screen instead of reading it word by word. The shorter your copy is, the easier it becomes for the user to scan it and proceed to perform the desired action. An important to keep in consideration here is that conciseness should not be achieved at the cost of clarity.

  • Consistent Before you go ahead and start implementing these fundamentals make sure you are familiar with the voice of your brand. If you have an existing brand voice, identify it and make use of it, if you don't have a brand voice develop one by creating a style guide and stay consistent with it. Good UX writing is consistent writing. As a writer, it is vital to ensure that elements, buttons, messages, and other communication on the software/product are consistent all across different segments. This adds to the hygiene and clarity enhancing the user experience.

  • Conversational While writing copies for a software/product it is important to remind yourself that the users are humans and not machines. There is a very high probability that your users might not be very tech-savvy. Therefore, using a casual conversational tone with a touch of humor can add humanization to your content making it easier for users to comprehend it effectively, instead of getting frustrated.

  • Coherence The ability to create meaningful actionable insights in UX writing is defined by the coherence and harmony of sentences, words, and characters. While creating broad outline contours for the copy we do not focus on the interconnectedness of content and its broader impact on the overall user experience. Cohesion and coherence ensure that users can understand the content and can perform their desired actions without facing difficulties.

Copywriting vs UX Writing

A common question that pops into the minds of budding UX writers and several other professionals understanding UX writing is how is copywriting different from UX writing?

The table below sheds light on copywriting vs UX writing.

Copywriting

UX Writing

​Marketing activity

Product activity

The primary objective is to attract users to sell the product

The primary objective is to make the user experience simple and frictionless

Most of the copywriting comes to play before the product is sold

Most of the UX writing comes to play after the product is sold

Involves catchy words, phrases, and vocabulary to attract users

Involves simple coherent, phrases, and vocabulary to help users

Is done after the product is built

Is done during product development and building


Examples of UX Writing

This section showcases some examples of UX writing that will help you to understand the nuances of the craft in detail.


Amazon: The content enclosed in black boxes represents typical UX writing elements such as the call to action, section headers, motivational UI copies, etc.



Extramarks: Learning App: This here is an amazing example of the use of supporting copies to add value to the primary copies and provide context to the user. The second screenshot depicts an in-app promotional message as a nudge that is placed to motivate the user to perform the desired action



Extramarks: Learning App The second screenshot depicts an in-app promotional message as a nudge that is placed to motivate the user to perform the desired action i.e.' Explore Packs'



Grammarly This is another example depicting a call to action, use of power words, promoting a product, and explaining features with simple clear, and concise language.

What do UX Writers do in Real-time?

In a broader sense, UX writers create content for digital products that help users to navigate and perform desired actions while using the app/product. This includes delivering different types of UX content mentioned in the previous section at different instances based on the requirements.

On an intrinsic level, UX writers curate the linguistic and semantic backbone of software to make them more inclusive and user-friendly. To excel in doing so, they need an excellent understanding of the software and user base they are writing. And this is where comes the first part of a UX writer's job i.e. conducting user research.

User research refers to the process of understanding user needs, behavior pain points, motivation areas, problems, goals, etc. via interviews, surveys, evaluations, dry runs, and other methodologies.

Unlike a copywriter, that writes copy to sell a product without getting involved in user research. A UX writer does all the writing after thorough user research to add value to the user experience by making it easier for users to use the software. Another important part of a UX writer's job is to bridge the gap between user goals and company needs. UX writers strive to achieve this goal by crafting an experience that enables users to interact seamlessly with the products and fills this gap that hinders business and conversions.

Contrary to popular belief, UX writers do more than just creating content for products. One of such activities is building and amplifying the voice of the product by creating style guides. These style guides define the set of rules and regulations fellow writers and other people in the company need to follow while working on product development.

Last but not least in a more abstract way, UX writers fight for their users. If a feature or design lacks clarity, UX writers intervene and ensure it is maintained throughout the product/software. They do so by making the communication clearer and simpler using the fundamentals of UX writing.

How to Start a Career in UX Writing?

If you planning to build a career in UX writing, it's the best time to begin! The demand for UX writers has skyrocketed in the past few years after companies and businesses have started realizing the key roles linguistics play in crafting compelling user experiences.


An amusing fact about UX writing is that professionals working in the industry usually come from extremely different and diverse backgrounds. You might come from a background of accounting or teaching and still manage to excel as a UX writer. This discipline of content strategy and development is relatively new and therefore it is easier for aspirants to build a career in UX writing.

Here's a rundown of some of the important skills/qualities that will help you to kickstart your journey as a UX writer.

  • Content Strategy and Writing UX writing is quite different from content writing or copywriting but still falls under the umbrella of writing. Knowledge of content strategy, good grammar, writing, and problem-solving are some of the key skills that help budding UX writers to start a career and excel in it.

  • Design Thinking UX writing precisely is content designing. The job is not just limited to writing but clubbing writing and design inputs together to solve user problems and build awesome software. Therefore, it is always a plus point if aspiring UX writers have a design mindset.

  • Research and Testing A major portion of a UX writer's job is to research to discover and develop better practices coupled with testing their inputs with an actual user base. UX writing is data-driven and reliant on research to create actionable insights for users. With relevant knowledge of research and testing, it becomes easier to begin a UX writing career.

  • Stakeholder Management and Communication As team members with cross-functional involvement UX writers usually have to communicate across multiple channels with different stakeholders to present and showcase their work. Strong communication skills and stakeholder management are must-have skills if you are planning to become a UX writer.


Conclusion

The industry is rapidly growing and UX writing is one of those jobs that is going to be a dream job in the coming years. With clear fundamentals of UX writing and basic skills, you too can become a UX writer.

Although, we still have a long time before industry leaders start to value and pay writers equally as designers, developers, or testers. However, this should not stop you from building a career in UX writing. Look at this as an opportunity to educate people and professionals about the importance and value of UX writers making it a more rewarding and thrilling profession.



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