UX writing is a specialty skill. When our teams work on content strategy with a client, many businesses expect things like a content inventory and audit, content modeling, and CMS content mapping. But some are surprised when we bring up content design and UX writing.
Not every project needs a UX writer. But if yours does, it really does.
Without a dedicated strategy or “owner” for UX writing, we’ve seen that these efforts become ad hoc and scattered across roles. When Agile product teams rapidly create dozens of flows and screens, sometimes designers, developers, and even product owners all contribute text and messaging for the application.
Content design debt starts to accrue without a consistent framework and strategy, and the product’s usability erodes.
UX writing can dramatically impact the usability and ROI of your design projects, so let’s talk about what UX writing is, why it’s a specialty, and how to know if you need a UX writer.
What is UX writing?
UX writing refers to the text in an app or product interface—sometimes called “strings” or “microcopy.” Good UX writing helps users make sense of interactions and processes in a digital experience by providing instructions, confirmations, and labeling. Examples of UX writing include elements like:
- Error messages
- Form labels
- Button text
- Confirmation messages
Why UX writing is a specialty
Sometimes, teams want to bring in a UX writer to “fix” the words in an experience after it’s been created. Unfortunately, this approach usually doesn’t work. Content designers and UX writers are more than wordsmiths—they partner with the design team to help set the strategic path for content in a product interface.
For a new app or product, this partnership looks like having a strategic UX writer involved from the beginning of a project and partnering closely with researchers, designers, and developers. Together, they map out content delivery flows and consider text placement in the experience and each component.
On a redesign project, it is vital to have a UX writer analyze the text patterns, voice, and tone in your experience and prioritize any improvements. On any project, a UX writer can also influence accessibility using alt text and screen reader text to help provide context for people who cannot see the hierarchy and context communicated by the visual design.
No tenured writer can improve an error message if the logic that determines when that message is displayed is broken.
The UX writer can also help document content guidelines that plug into a design system or pattern library. Once that strategic foundation is in place, the UX writer executes the strategy and works hand-in-hand with design, ensuring that product UI content adheres to the best practices and guidelines they established.
In this way, while UX writing is a specialized skill, it can also set a foundation that others on the team can build upon. With UX content guidelines in place, other designers on the team can add a new button or error message to the experience that is consistent with established patterns.
Signs you need a UX writer
High-quality UX writing is essential for projects like:
- App redesigns
- Digital transformations
- Brand-new experiences that require significant onboarding and user adoption
- Creating and updating design systems
When building a task-heavy, app-like experience, UX writing will be critical to the design’s success. A focus on UX writing can lead to increased adoption, increased completion of onboarding, reduced attrition rates, reduced time to conversions, reduced help center volume, and more.
If you’re recreating a landing page or just trying to share some basic information that you don’t need the user to act upon, UX writing will be less vital. But when you’re trying to drive any action or help a user solve a problem, a UX writer working as part of a design team will be critical to your project’s success.
UX writing is a specialty skill—and you may need it
If you’re creating digital experiences that need to drive action, don’t overlook the critical role of words in the experience. Writing the microcopy that populates your app or site isn’t (usually) a job for just anyone on your team. Content design debt can accumulate without a dedicated UX writer, and the flow and language can become disjointed and confusing.
Content design and UX writing are specialty skills that can significantly impact the ROI of your digital experience. Any business trying to drive growth should seriously consider including these roles in their next design project.
Want to learn more about UX writing and how it can improve your next project? Schedule a call.
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