Apr 10, 2023
2 min read
As we shouldn’t underestimate the power of words in real life, we shouldn’t do so with content on digital products. So if you’ve ever wondered what UX writing is and whether it’s crucial for your product, keep reading. That’s exactly what we will shed light on.
What is UX writing?
We assure you that you have encountered UX writing more times than you can count. Whenever you go on the Internet, you use your phone or an app, all the words you read come from a UX writer. Even the buttons, such as “Subscribe” or “Comment”, come from UX writing. In other words, UX writing is nothing else but the content of a website or a mobile app.
However, to be precise, UX writing refers to the process of creating clear and user-friendly copy that guides the user through a digital experience of a website or an app. It’s a carefully crafted work fulfilling a purpose: catching the user’s attention, guiding them through the digital product, and ensuring they get what they need.
Rules of effective UX writing
UX writing should be clear, direct, and accessible. Regardless of your target audience, anyone should understand the message you want to convey. Even if you want to attract geniuses only – you don’t want the message to be so confusing that they end up overthinking instead of buying or investing in your product. So how to keep UX writing effective?
1. Avoid long blocks of text
People usually don’t read texts, especially on a website, but rather scan the content for the necessary information. So be clear and concise in your communication. Clarity and directness are what you should strive for in UX writing. You should leave out any jargon or overly technical terms. Instead, be straightforward and ensure you use language that users understand.
2. Write in the present tense
Texts in the present tense are more engaging for users as they make the experience seem more immediate. It establishes the interaction in the user’s “now” instead of later/in the future.
3. Use numerals
As mentioned, people scan texts. Spelt-out numbers will then disappear in the sea of words, but numerals stand out. If you want the users to notice the numbers, stick to numerals in UX writing.
4. Be user-centred
UX writing is part of the user experience, so just as much as the design, it should be user-centred. Empathise with the user and try to see the product from their eyes. Keep in mind what they need to know every step of the way, and put this information in your writing.
5. Use active voice
If there’s one thing that UX writing should be, it’s clear and direct. Active voice helps with that – users feel like they’re in control and making progress.
6. Stay consistent
The language and tone of voice should be consistent throughout every screen of a digital product. It’s the key to a successful product. As Jarek wrote in our article on UI design, familiarity and predictability make a digital product easier to understand. Consistency gives the user a sense of security – they know what to expect and what will happen when they click here or there. UX writing can’t help provide a good user experience without consistency.
Why is UX writing important?
At the risk of preaching – because words are important. UX writing – content – doesn’t just fill in space in the design. It is crucial to it. It can facilitate user flow on a website or confuse users so much that they won’t be able to do what the digital product intends. If you have a digital product, think of it as instructions. When you order a table from Ikea, a picture of a table will not be enough to build it on your own. You need specific words to tell you what goes where and how. Content on a digital product is exactly like that. Without it, users can get lost: they know what they want to do and what you need them to do to get it, yet they don’t know how.
You can’t have useful designs without the right copy. UX writing creates a positive user experience. It establishes trust with users and makes it easy for them to move around and achieve their goals. And it supports the brand’s general tone of voice, making it more distinct. All this leads to greater engagement, loyalty, and business success.
The future of UX writing
With ChatGPT and other AIs on the rise, many people think that the job of a UX writer will become obsolete. It’s far from the truth. The future of UX writing is changing, but it, and by extension, UX writers, are far from becoming archaic. However, UX writing will definitely transform.
First of all, the global markets are growing, and so is the importance of accessibility. If the future indicates anything, then it’s diversification. UX writing will need to be translated into multiple languages to catch up with the expanding businesses.
Secondly, conversational interfaces are more and more common. UX writers will need to adapt to fit a more natural conversation path. UX writing will need to become even more human to mimic human speech patterns.
There’s also personalisation and accessibility. Digital products need to become more customisable, and UX writing should be prepared to reflect users’ preferences and needs. At the same time, accessibility is more prevalent than ever, and that trend will continue to spread. UX writing will focus more on creating inclusive content that everyone can understand.
Finally, we mentioned the AIs. Artificial Intelligence continues to grow, and it is perceived as a threat to a UX writing job. However, AIs are here to stay, and instead of turning against them, a good UX writer will turn them into their strength. Working with AIs, e.g. on grammar or getting more information on a subject, is a skill. Not to mention, that AI-powered features or interfaces need UX writing just as much as other digital products. The way we see it, UX writing will be integrated with AI, not be eliminated by it.
Just as UX design has a bright, transformative future ahead of it (which Łukasz wrote about in the article on the future of UX design), so does UX writing. Innovation, growth, and change – that’s what awaits digital products, and that’s what also awaits UX writing. It will need to adapt and evolve as the digital world does.
Who is a UX writer, and what do they do?
A UX writer is a UX writing specialist. They create content that makes a digital product easy to navigate and engages users to interact more. They write short pieces of writing, such as microcopy (e.g. a label or a button) as well as prepare longer texts you can find on a landing page which is why some people call this type of content creator not only a UX writer but also a UX copywriter or a content designer. There are plenty of products a UX writer writes for: software applications, mobile apps, and websites.
A UX writer’s goal is to develop and deliver quality content that serves as guidelines for a digital product to improve user experience. During a project, they usually work in a diverse team with researchers and designers, writing their copy directly on the designs (for example, in Figma). If no researchers are on board, they may conduct the research themselves to ensure the content stays relevant and users can enjoy the digital product without friction. UX writer also contributes to design – they try to prevent typographical mistakes and work with designers to compose a solution that satisfies every customer.
So what does a UX writer do? Their main responsibilities are defining content strategy (a UX writer can also be a content strategist too), writing and editing content (including navigation, menu, headings, subheadings, and copy on interactive elements), conducting user research (gathering feedback and adjusting the copy on the interface properly), collaborating with other teams (e.g. UX design or development team), and maintaining the brand’s tone of voice (developing it and keeping it consistent across all digital touchpoints).
A UX writer usually has their hands full, making sure that content is unique, responds to the target audience’s needs, and meets the stakeholders’ expectations.
The copy in your digital product has to be just right: clear, direct, and accessible. Only then will you increase the usability of your digital product, create a positive user experience, and, more importantly, drive engagement. To do that, you need a UX writer. Someone who knows how to write all kinds of copy on a website to make the user feel understood and engaged with your product.
Yet, UX writing is more than just creating the copy. UX writers don’t just create content – they design it. They may not be the ones who choose the font, but they’re the ones to ensure that the words fit the design without any grammatical or typographical mistakes and guide the users towards a specific action.
Ultimately, UX writing is essential to UX design, and at Flying Bisons, we treat it as such. Design can be beautiful and intuitive, but it is only by adding UX writing that you make it truly compelling.