what-is-ux-writing-definition

What is UX writing? Definitions and Examples

Those who know me personally know that I’ve been writing on the internet for a good while.

From publishing on Xanga in its early days to running UXBeginner.com, I’ve been writing much longer than I’ve been designing.

Naturally, my interest was piqued when I saw UX writing emerge as a new design role:

There were countless times I had to create copy for my own wireframes when there wasn’t a copywriter on the team, or I’d obsess over the correct label for a a menu item.

UX writing seemed like a blend of two of my favorite activities: designing with words.

But how is UX writing different from other types of writing?

Understanding UX Writing Through Other Forms of Writing

Let’s take a longer path to defining UX writing by differentiating it with “regular” writing and copywriting.

When you introduce yourself as a writer, people think you’re going to write the next great American novel. If you’re living in Los Angeles like me, then people think you’re working on the next hit screenplay.

But the moment you say you’re a copywriter, most professionals would know that you’re writing for businesses. Copywriters write “copy” – content aimed at marketing to potential buyers.

Since the field of user experience is concerned with designing digital products, it follows that UX writing deals with creating content that goes in these very products.

 

 

Copywriting = content to market the product, UX writing = content embedded in products

Given this context, we arrive at this definition of UX writing:

UX Writing is the production of written content that becomes part of, and supports, a product’s user experience.

Definitions of UX writing from around the web seem to agree…

  • The UX Blog: UX writers help create a great customer experience through the written word.
  • Google’s UX Writer Job Description: UX Writers advocate for Google design and help shape product experiences by crafting copy that helps users complete the task at hand.
  • UXWriter.cc: UX writing is writing for design, where words have purpose, driven by user goals.

UX writing is the craft of helping customers use and understand digital experiences through words. But what does it look like?

UX Writing Examples

Technically, any written content on an interface can count as UX writing.

In the following examples, the “UX” part is knowing when to introduce certain messages in the context of a design. The “writing” part is crafting the message itself.

Call to actions (CTA)
Well-worded calls to actions can get users to take action and dramatically increase sales.

BlueApron’s “Choose your plan” text is customized to BlueApron’s product offering – a subscription plan for meals.

Menu Design & Navigation
In this example from AA.com, both top level navigation (“Travel Information”) and it’s children (“at the airport”) should make sense to its users.

All information architecture requires a careful consideration of words.

Interface hints
Coinbase optional links like “Don’t see all your funds?” help users at potentially confusing of an interface.

Whenever there is an important-yet-confusing (or anxiety-inducing) interaction, helpful text can go a long way to increase users’ confidence.

Supporting content that explains a function or feature
Medium.com elaborates on each feature with an explanation, like “We’ll email you when there are notifications on your stories and publications.”


Subtle prompts that encourage user interaction
Here’s Facebook’s famous “What’s on your mind?” placeholder text to encourage sharing.


Conversational UIs
This example from Alex, an HR benefits tool, showcases the growing rise of chatbots.

Conversational interfaces pose an opportunity for companies to scale marketing (and help) through interactive content.

Used wisely, UX writing informs users how to use digital products and guides them through user flows.

The Rise of UX Writing

As the adoption of user experience grows, so does the recognition of content as a critical part of UX.

When we buy new gadgets from Amazon or furniture from Ikea, we expect them to come with a user manual or instructions. There are writers (usually a technical writing team) where that came from.

In a similar sense, UX writers serve as the writing force behind interfaces and digital products.

UX writing is growing in demand from larger enterprises that have lots of content to manage across multiple products and customer-facing situations.

Playing equal parts writer, editor and user-centered designer, the UX writer’s role shines in establishing consistency in language, voice and tone throughout an application.

The exciting news? You might already be doing UX writing if you’re a…

  • Designer with a penchant for words is already doing UX writing.
  • Product designer who hates using lorem ipsum in their wireframes is already doing UX writing.
  • UX team of one who needs to create both designs and the content that goes into them is already doing UX writing.

Since most of the web is written language, the growth of UX writing is a recognition of the power of words in the everyday user experience of products.

For the designer who already has a penchant for words, or the UXer who hates using lorem ipsum in their wireframes, keep your eye on the growing field of UX writing.


Also published on Medium.

1 thought on “What is UX writing? Definitions and Examples”

  1. Pingback: What is UX writing? Definitions and examples – DuCentillion

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