Think of your favorite app or the website that you visit often. Now imagine that all the words in them are gone. More than that, they never existed. The design is important, yes. But what is a well-designed app or site without any words to guide you through?
You just got the simplest idea of UX writing and its importance. UX copy and UX design are two irreplaceable parts of the user experience. That is why more and more product teams hire dedicated UX writers.
As a design agency, the Eleken team knows that apart from eye-catching design, digital products must also have a clear and engaging copy and microcopy for users to fall in love with your product. That's why, in this article, we'd like to talk about people responsible for this- UX writers.
What is UX writing and why is it important?
It doesn’t matter how beautiful and functional the design is if the UX copy is misleading, confusing, or just grammatically poor. UX copy is something that users consume intuitively without paying much attention to it. Although often taken for granted, a good UX copy is more powerful than we think. It can leave a pleasant aftertaste or ruin the user experience.
According to the UX institute report, UX writing is a process focused on creating the copy and microcopy for the whole digital product. This includes writing crucial user experience content like tooltips, error messages, and notifications. Great UX writing presents complex ideas simply. It helps users find what they’re looking for on a website or app.
World industry leaders, including Google, Facebook, and Shopify, all have UX writers in their teams. They understand that UX copy is no less important than the design itself. Facebook and Shopify have even changed the “UX Writer” title to “Content Designer” to show that this job includes much more than writing.
Why has the job of a UX writer become so popular in recent years?
The UX writer profession is new; it was only shaped as an independent occupation several years ago. Before that the duties of a UX writer were shared by designers, marketers, and content writers.
Google Trends shows that the interest in UX writers is growing over the past five years.
There are many reasons for the fast-growing demand for UX writers. During the past decade technology and digital products evolved rapidly and so did product teams. UX roles become more specific, which makes UX teams more effective and productive.
Another reason is that digital products nowadays solve more complicated problems and become more complex themselves. It creates a need for clear guidance so users can easily understand how to work with certain products. Precise and clear words are vital as never before, and here's where UX writers can help.
Also, businesses around the world tend to automate their processes. Chatbots and voice user interface (VUI) are confidently taking over the client service. And in the situation where human-to-human interaction is reduced, the right words in scripts make a huge difference. UX writers are the ones who give chatbots and similar tools a personality to make them more persuasive and fun to interact with.
And of course, we can not exclude growing competition in the digital product market. Businesses require new ways of standing out. A plain copy won’t surprise anyone today, as people got used to seeing creative and user-friendly copy everywhere. This is where UX writers come on stage to make texts in the digital product more engaging, creative, and user-centered.
What do UX writers do?
Okay, UX writers are important, we got that. But what do they actually do?
What’s on the surface is microcopy, in other words, labeling. But UX writing is more than that.
In a nutshell, UX writers research, create and test content for apps, websites, and other digital products.
Here are some examples of UX writing:
- Microcopy (button copy)
- Product guidelines
- Error messages and 404 pages
- Help and hint texts
- Alerts and notifications
- CTAs (calls to action)
UX writers carry out UX surveys and analyze the results, taking actionable insights out of them. They also work on UX content strategy, even when there’s a dedicated content strategist in the team. When needed, UX writers also have to write chatbot scripts to guide users through automated tasks.
Sometimes, UX writers are confused with content writers or marketers. That’s why, here’s an important note: UX writers do not create ads, and they don’t write blogs or social media posts either. They definitely should be in touch with the marketing team, however, the UX writer’s job is not to attract customers but to explain the product and its functions.
How is UX writing different from UX design?
You know who is also focused on the user experience? UX designers, that’s right. Before UX writers emerged as independent specialization, a great deal of their responsibilities were on the UX designers' table. Now UX writers work closely with UX designers. But it doesn’t mean their work overlaps.
UX designers focus on problems that design aims to solve. They create user personas and journey maps, prototypes and wireframes, high-fidelity mock-ups, and usability reports. UX designers’ range of deliverables is broader, but it doesn’t include UX writing.
UX writers deliver copy that will be incorporated in the product, as well as write editorial guidelines or product language guidelines. They also set the tone of voice and content style for the product. Basically, UX writers take care of all the words within the product.
UX writers and UX designers work together mostly on the research and prototyping stage of product creation to deliver the best user experience in the end.
What is a UX writer's skillset?
UX writer skills evolve along with the industry needs. Rich vocabulary, perfect grammar, and strategic thinking are the core UX writing skills. Still, these things alone don’t make a good UX writer. Crucial for this role is understanding business goals, as well as users’ psychology.
A valuable skill for UX writers is basic knowledge of wireframing and prototyping tools, as they will work with designers on prototypes and wireframes. UX writers should also know how to run A/B tests and what tools are best for the product testing process since good UX writers always test at least two sets of copy.
Soft skills are no less important. UX writers have to be excellent team players because UX copy can not exist in a vacuum, it should be created in close cooperation with the design team.
How to hire a UX writer
In order to hunt a good professional, it is paramount to define your business goals first. Set up the right expectations about your future UX writer and compose the most precise UX writer job description. This is half of your hiring success. It will simplify the screening process and also eliminate unsuitable candidates.
As we’ve mentioned, hiring just a literate candidate with little writing experience is not enough for the UX writer's job at all. Look for a person with a business background, someone who will understand your product, your company’s vision, and user needs. Such a writer will craft their copy according to the company’s goals. UX writing is diverse so check for a candidate's ability for writing bigger text pieces, as well as microcopy. A good idea would be to make a test task for your candidates. Experience in content writing and marketing will be a plus, too.
A passion for technology and understanding of digital products is something you are looking for in your ideal candidate. But don’t forget to pay attention to soft skills, as UX writers collaborate with other team members a lot.
UX writers are relatively new players in the digital field. The high demand for such professionals is growing along with the digital product industry. Products tend to become more complex, automated, and competitive more than ever. That’s why such products need a high-quality user-oriented copy.
UX writers create copy for digital products and services and they can make your product speak to your users. With precise words, UX writers add feelings to the user experience. Make it smooth and effective. Skilled in writing, passionate about UX and business challenges, UX writers are able to elevate design with words.
If you are building a mobile app, a website, or a web platform, you should consider hiring a UX writer. Having a dedicated UX writer in the team brings higher product quality and an engaging user experience. Many companies worldwide already have UX writers in their design teams, as they understand this is an investment in the product user experience that will pay off.
A better understanding of UX processes and team roles leads to more conscious decisions and more successful projects. To find out more about UX roles, feel free to read our article on roles in SaaS company and the strategy for product owners, or reach out to us if you have any questions. We are happy to help.