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UX Writing 101

ux writing 101

Ever since UX design, UI Design, Design thinking became a trend in India, a lot of folks want to understand it and want to be a part of it. The truth about UX design today is that our experiences with new technology have been seamlessly integrated. For example, I ask Alexa to play the song that I want to listen to. I even ask her for weather updates. At times I ask google for updates on my favourite football team. Think about it, even in virtual reality, our voices can do what our hands cannot.

Similarly, in the last few months, I have noticed many folks talking about UX writing within and outside the community. To some, the term UX writing can be confusing. Many people think of it as copywriting or content writing related to a UX topic. This confusion has reached a point use UX Writing and UX Copywriting as synonyms of each other.

These terms do not represent the same thing! Allow me to explain it in simpler terms.

What is UX writing?

UX writing is the practice of writing texts for a digital product (an app, a website etc.) that the user reads when interacting with it. These texts include menus, empty state messages, error messages and much more called microcopy. These texts are clear, concise, constructive, conversational and consistent. It is meant to assist the user to accomplish their tasks using the product. To keep things simple, let us refer to the text as a copy, as it is a term highly used in publishing and advertising.

Why is it important?

UX writing is omnipresent in all digital products. Imagine your favourite apps like Facebook, Reddit or Amazon without any copy? You might get the flow, but you would not know what to do. That would be depressing sight, yes? Irrespective of the UI’s intuitiveness, the copy is the best way to communicate with the user.

Now, people can argue by asking how do these few lines of copy matter? In UX writing, these few lines of copy can aid in:

  • Fewer user frustration.
  • Better retention.
  • Enhanced revenue.

The above example shows the success message that MailChimp sends to its users, keeping in mind the user’s emotional state after sending/queuing up a newsletter. This reflects that a UX writer will provide cohesive and unified content, making this profile a precious and crucial asset for complex projects. In contrast, a product manager, UX designer, or even a developer can include professional jargons in the copy, which would lead to inconsistency.

How is it different from UX copywriting?

Copywriting is writing texts for advertisements – that is the simplest way I can put it. UX Copywriting can attract users, get their attention, help them have fun while using the product, but then what? How would you guide them through the interface? What kind of messages would show to reduce the frustration of the user? UX writing does not typically advertise or sell, as UX writers are involved in the initial stage of the design process. UX writing is also based on UX principles. And if that doesn’t convince you, take a look at the graph below and then make up your mind.

With that, I want to direct your attention to a few UX writing principles.

UX writing principles

As we discuss a few UX writing principles, I want you t understand that you can consider them as UX writing tips as well. Writing the copy for an interface is a mix of psychology and art. Remember, these are general rules, not universal.

Usefulness

UX writing requires you to be user-centric. Think about who you are writing for and the various ways the users would interact with the product. The copy should be helpful, allowing the user to get where they want to go.

Clarity

Very often, users can and don’t read. The screen size and user’s perception will affect your copy. As a result, the copy should communicate the message concisely yet effectively. Construct the message in plain and straightforward language to make it easily understandable and translatable. You must understand one more thing – the user is not your colleague/friend, so keep the professional jargons to yourself. Make every word count and avoid any unnecessary information on the screen.

Prioritise

When you are writing the copy, make sure to keep anything important first. That way, users will start with the important stuff.

Remember to write short copy. If you have to present the users with a lot of content, then reveal it step-by-step.

Tonality

UX writing is also used to build trust. Therefore, the copy should represent the organisation’s voice. Think about the language that is will resonate with the user. Also, humorise your copy care as it might become irritating over time even though it seems funny at first.

Write as per your platform

Use language consistent with the platform utilised by the user. The copy used in a desktop app might not work well on a mobile app. Say people who use iPhones are familiar with the word tap instead of click. You have to keep such minor details in mind.

Consistency

We all know that inconsistency breeds confusion. The smart move would be to follow a messaging framework with a core set of vocabulary, ensuring that the copy is consistent. The user should feel as if the same individual wrote it.

These are a few UX writing principles apart from research and writing that a UX writer has to follow diligently to work his/her way through the trenches. It would be best if you realise that your end game is to make the interface easy-to-use.

I’ve been in these trenches for one and a half year now. All I can tell you is:

  • Learn to think like a designer.
  • Remain open to idea and suggestions.
  • Please communicate with your coworkers like they’re a part of your family.
  • Update yourself with the latest trend in UX writing.

Another question that beginners often pose is How Much Can a UX Writer Expect to Earn? UX writing is relatively nascent in India. So, there isn’t much data about the wages this profile offers. I can tell you with confidence that for a UX designer, the role of UX writer is complementary. And the average salary of a UX designer in India is ₹647,644.

Conclusion

UX writing is a fundamental part of any digital product, guiding users to achieve their goals. Therefore, nailing the copy is necessary. As we see an extensive integration of technology in our daily lives, the need for storytellers who can anticipate the essential words increases. Trust me, it’s an exciting role, and I couldn’t be happier with the opportunity to bring my narrative experience to the table.

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