Apr 21, 2023
5 min read
A UX writer is the word magician in the IT world. They help craft the user experience and make digital products more user-friendly. Let’s bring the ins and outs of the UX writing job into the open!
Who is a UX writer?
A UX writer is a digital product content specialist. They specialise in writing content for websites, mobile apps, and software applications. Their goal is to produce clear and engaging content that helps users accomplish their tasks and improve the user experience of a digital product.
To achieve the best results – which is the most useful and user-friendly product – researchers, UX designers, and UX writers should work together. This is also what we do at Flying Bisons and why we combined our departments of Research & Strategy, UX/UI Design, and UX Writing.
— Klaudia Doerffer, Head of Research & Strategy at Flying Bisons
A UX writer works closely with the design team – UX designers, UI designers, strategists, researchers, and developers (especially in terms of localising when it comes to a product that has versions in multiple languages).
To be more precise, a UX writer creates (or co-creates) the following:
- Navigation and menus,
- Headings and subheadings,
- Buttons and calls-to-action,
- Error messages and alerts,
- Onboarding and instructional materials,
- Microcopy (e.g., tooltips, labels, and help text; we explained it in detail in the article "What is microcopy?").
A UX writer actively contributes to creating a unique and positive user experience.
What does a UX writer actually do?
A UX writer is responsible for the content and anything related when working on a digital product. Some of their key tasks include:
- Defining content strategy
With the help of UX strategists and researchers, UX writers define content for a product. They establish what should be said, where, and how.
- Writing and editing
Obviously, a UX writer writes and edits. On a digital product, this includes navigation and menu, headings and subheadings, copy on interactive components like buttons, error messages and alerts, onboarding and instructional materials, and microcopy.
- Conducting user research
If there are no researchers on board, a UX writer can and should conduct research on their own, such as surveys or usability testing. The collected information can help the writer improve the content to meet user needs and expectations.
- Collaborating with other teams
To prepare and provide a seamless user experience, a UX writer should work with other teams – researchers, UX designers, UI designers, and developers – to ensure that the final product is functional, user-friendly, and visually appealing.
- Maintaining the brand’s tone of voice
A UX writer should advocate for the brand’s tone of voice and keep it consistent across the product and other digital touchpoints. If the brand doesn’t have a tone of voice yet, then they’re the ones who can and will help develop a tone of voice guide for the company.
Responsibilities of UX writers
The responsibilities of UX writers vary. A UX writer should generally write and edit content, collaborate with other teams, maintain the brand’s tone of voice, and conduct user research if needed.
The role of UX writers in teams
The role of a UX writer in teams overlaps with their responsibilities. The UX writer’s job varies depending on whether the project involves creating a website, mobile app, or software application. Still, the goal remains the same: to deliver content seamlessly integrated with the visual design and functionality of the product.
In the UX design process, the UX writer takes care of the content strategy as well as writing and editing it. UX writers possess specific knowledge about words and user experience that other teams benefit from. UX writer ensures that writing compliments UX design and helps convey a message that can’t be communicated through design.
When it comes to marketing, UX writers create the brand’s tone of voice that should be used as guidelines across all communication channels. So despite not working together in a team, a marketing department benefits from a UX writer’s recommendations regarding the tone of voice.
How to become a UX writer?
Becoming a UX writer can be a path for anyone who loves technology and has a knack for words. If you have both, start with the following:
- Develop your writing skills – this is all about writing clear, concise, and engaging content that communicates complex ideas in a way people can understand. This skill requires practice, so take advantage of plenty of UX writing prompts, exercises, and courses online, including the famous UX writing challenge;
- Learn about user-centred design principles – learn as much as you can about user-centred design principles and incorporate them into your writing to ensure that your texts guide the user through the product without friction;
- Gain experience – look for an internship or entry-level job. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience; build a portfolio based on available UX writing prompts (even experienced UX writers like to put challenges from prompts into their portfolios to show their versatility). You can also show your samples on your own blog or page or look for freelance projects;
- Consider getting formal education or training – whether that’s a UX design course, a UX writing boot camp, or an educational conference, learning is essential to any job;
- Join the community and network with other UX professionals – UX specialists are thriving, progress-oriented people who love sharing their knowledge, creativity, and work with others. Attend industry events and mingle – the people you meet will help you stay up-to-date with the industry, and, who knows, maybe they’ll help you find a job too!
A UX writer needs writing skills, UX design knowledge, and experience working with digital products. We downsized the list of needed skills to the following:
- excellent writing skills, including a strong command of grammar, syntax, and spelling of the language you write in,
- user-centred design knowledge, including basic UX design principles and UX research methods to gather necessary data and feedback,
- experience working in the digital industry that proves you have the necessary understanding of the challenges unique to digital products,
- content strategy knowledge, including content audits and planning to make sure the writing meets user needs,
- ability to work with others as a UX writer needs to collaborate with the research, design, and development team in their day-to-day work,
- attention to detail to create content that’s both consistent and error-free,
- ability to learn and adapt as UX writing revolves around the ever-growing and changing technology industry.
Above all, however, a UX writer needs to have empathy. A positive user experience that meets the users’ needs is based on empathy, and that’s what a UX writer needs to create relevant content.
Although there are many jobs that can do without a portfolio, a UX writer is not one of them. A UX writing portfolio should document your experience and show your skills. We’ve put together these pieces of advice on how to build a UX writing portfolio:
- Show a variety of work
Showcase examples from different digital products, including websites, mobile apps, or software; versatility is highly sought in UX writers as a company rarely has only one digital product.
- Highlight the process
Underline the process in each case study, describe your work with other teams (e.g. UX design or research team), and show how you iterated the writing based on the stakeholders’ response and user feedback. Highlight the importance of collaboration and user-centred design.
- Add before-and-after examples
If you rewrote or edited something, show the before and after versions to prove that you can identify issues and come up with solutions on the spot that will improve user experience.
- Explain your decisions
UX writing decisions need context, so explain why you chose certain words or phrases; if you changed the copy on the interactive elements, clarify why and demonstrate how you addressed a specific user need. Giving context will underline your UX writing expertise.
- Showcase your writing style
Your writing style and tone should be illustrated in your portfolio, together with your ability to write in a clear, informative, and engaging manner that meets user needs and complies with brand guidelines.
- Make it user-friendly
Keep it simple: add a small introduction at the beginning, categorise your work (e.g. by the type of digital product), and ensure that it’s a pleasant read. Don’t forget to use headings, bullet points, and images to break up the texts. In other words, treat your UX portfolio like you would any UX writing work.
- Update it regularly
We can’t stress this enough. Adding one case study at a time is way easier than putting an entire portfolio from scratch at once when needed.
What kind of experience should a UX writer have? Or, more importantly, how to get UX writing experience?
Working with digital products on user-centred design
It’s best to have experience working with all kinds of digital products – websites, mobile apps, and software – on UX design, including conducting user research, developing user personas, and creating user journey maps so that any content a UX writer produces is data-driven and meets the users’ needs.
Collaborating with other teams
Even if there’s only one UX writer, they never work alone but also with UX design, research, development teams, and stakeholders. So a UX writer should have experience working in cross-functional teams to prove they can and have been able to look at a product from different perspectives and integrate it into one vision through collaboration.
Creating content strategy
A UX writer with experience in content strategies, such as content audits, content planning, and information architecture, can write content consistent with business goals and user needs.
Editing and proofreading
Editing and proofreading experience are required to ensure that content is error-free, consistent, and conforms to branding guidelines.
Experience with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) enables UX writers to optimise content for search engines while keeping it in line with users’ needs.
UX writing is an essential part of UX design, and that’s why a UX writer is an essential member of any team whose purpose is to create an effective digital product. Words matter; they guide us, explain how things function, and tell us how to fix a mistake and prevent making one. There’s no digital product without content, and there’s no content without a UX writer.