What is UX Writing?
How microcopy guides the user experience for mobile applications
UX Writing is a relatively new term that is quickly gaining buzz. Companies like Google, Dropbox, and Facebook already have large UX Writing teams, and smaller companies are starting to take note. Meanwhile, more writers are becoming aware of UX Writing as an opportunity.
In this post, we’re going to explain what UX writing is, what it is not, why it matters, and how to learn more about it.
What is UX Writing?
UX stands for User Experience. The user is the person who is literally “using” an interface, such as a website, iPhone, or app.
A UX Writer is someone who specializes in writing the small words that are part of an interface. You probably see UX writing everyday without even realizing it. It’s the “settings” labels in your Gmail account, the words on the buttons you click to order an Uber, and all over your Facebook dashboard. These small strings of words, or individual words, are also called microcopy.
What exactly do UX Writers do?
UX Writers partner with designers to create great user experiences. They make sure that copy and design work well together, and that the words are clear and useful.
The main goal of a UX Writer is to write words that are helpful, useful, and clear. Microcopy is an essential component of user interface design.
This is where UX Writers differ from copywriters. A copywriter is a marketing role, and their main goal is to write words that sell. UX Writers could care less about selling. Instead, they want to make sure that someone can use the interface easily. This is also the reason why the term UX Copywriting is silly. 🙃
What skills do UX Writers have?
UX Writers need to have a deep understanding of both writing and best practices within the field of user experience. They should be able to speak the same language as designers and understand product design terms. In fact, many UX Writers describe their work as “designing with words.”
They also tend to be empathetic, thoughtful people who will act as champions for the user when they need to. Whether this means getting involved with user research, or actively practicing empathy based on personas, a UX Writer is a human-centered role.
Who needs UX Writers?
Every product design team! If you’ve got words going into a mobile app, web app, software application, internal web portal, or even a touchscreen kiosk at the airport — you need a UX Writer.
The best time to bring a UX Writer into a design project is as soon as possible. The more opportunities the writer has to be involved in the design process, the better the user experience will be. Often times, design teams will wait until the very end of the design process before bringing in a writer and this is a big missed opportunity.
UX Writing examples
Now that you know what UX Writing is, you’ll probably start to notice microcopy everywhere. Open any app on your phone and you’ve got microcopy. Download a new program on your computer and you’ll see microcopy guiding you through the installation process.
Here’s a nice example of some microcopy from Google Pages. This is the work of a smart UX Writer whose goal was to help a new user get introduced to the app.
UX Writing books and resources
To keep learning more about UX Writing and microcopy, check out some of these resources.
1. Microcopy: The Complete Guide by Kinneret Yifrah
2. The Microcopy & UX Writing Facebook Group
3. Take free and paid courses from experts at the UX Writing Hub
4. Read Common Myths about UX Writing on UX Planet