UX Writing: Definition, Examples and Best Practices
May 5, 2023 Max 4min read
Do you know the power language plays in shaping digital experiences?
UX writing is the art of crafting words that guide users through digital interfaces, helping them achieve their goals and creating a connection between the user and the product.
It’s not just about writing words but about creating a narrative that captures the user’s attention and guides them seamlessly through the product. Creating a concise, consistent text requires deep understanding of user behavior, psychology, and language.
With the right words, you can create a product that users love and want to use repeatedly. You can establish a tone of voice and brand personality that resonates with your audience and differentiates your product from the competition.
What Is UX Writing?
UX Writing definition:
UX writing refers to creating text that appears in digital interfaces such as websites, applications, and software. It is a critical aspect of the user experience design process.
The Role of UX Writing
UX writing has become vital for product teams worldwide in today’s digital age. As the competition intensifies, companies increasingly realize that creating a great user experience is essential for survival.
UX writers play a crucial role in ensuring the product is functional but also engaging, intuitive, and enjoyable. Therefore companies like Google, who foresaw the need for the UX writing role, are thriving today.
A UX writer works closely with designers, developers, and product managers to ensure the product’s text is consistent with the overall product design, tone of voice, and brand messaging. They use their expertise to craft words that resonate with the user and guide them seamlessly through the product.
They ensure that the product’s text is concise, clear, and easy to understand, which helps reduce user frustration and improves engagement.
You know a company has a UX writer working alongside designers when you see their login page. Compare the sign-up page for Booking.com and Oracle. Having too many fields to fill in leads to group outs.
By investing in UX writing, companies can differentiate themselves from the competition, increase user satisfaction, and drive business growth. UX writers have become indispensable members of product teams, and their expertise is in high demand as companies seek to create exceptional user experiences.
Best Practices for UX Writing
Pro tip: Early attention to UX writing can uncover design issues, as problems with writing UX copy highlight underlying design issues.
- Write to the point, and cut out unnecessary words.
- Remember, users scan UI text and not read them. So write short and easily scannable texts.
- No double negatives(see what we did there?)Don’t write: “Don’t hesitate to not click the unsubscribe button.” instead, write: “Please click the unsubscribe button without hesitation if you wish to unsubscribe.”
- State the objective first and then follow up with the action.
- Use specific verbs such as save and connect.
- Keep the words consistent throughout; if you begin by using the word connect, don’t use configure later on and confuse your users.
- Don’t use fancy terms.
- Present tense sounds more enthusiastic than the future tense.
- Write in active voice, copy, or even otherwise in most writings.
- Use numbers and words. 2 and not two.
- Have a ‘read more’ option.
- Tell your users what an element says.
- Use humor carefully. What is humorous in one culture doesn’t necessarily translate into others.
- Platform language must be consistent. Computer and phone languages will be different.
- Use visuals whenever possible.
Differences Between UX Writing and Copywriting
Copywriting is a 19th-century phenomenon- recall newspapers, whereas UX writing is a relatively new role.
Copywriting is creating persuasive and compelling marketing copy to persuade the reader to take a particular action. UX writing, on the other hand, is about crafting text that guides the user through the product and assists them in achieving their goals.
Copywriting is typically created for marketing materials such as websites, emails, and advertising campaigns, while UX writing is designed for digital interfaces such as websites, applications, and software.
The writing style in copywriting is often more creative and imaginative, emphasizing persuasion and emotion. On the other hand, UX writing is more straightforward and concise, with an emphasis on clarity and usability.
Regarding skillsets, copywriters often have a background in creative writing, journalism, or marketing, while UX writers typically have a background in user experience design, technical writing, or content strategy.
Copywriters often work closely with marketers, while UX writers work closely with designers, developers, and product managers.
You will have noticed that there are a lot of grey areas and overlapping tasks that both ux writers and copywriters undertake.
Examples of Effective UX Writing
- Microcopy: “Oops, something went wrong. Please try again later.” (Error message)
- Interface hints/Instructional copy: ‘Download draft file and edit.’ Use this whenever there’s an essential yet confusing interface.
Chisel’s instructional and interface copy.
- Error messages: “Invalid email address” (Error message)
- Empty states: “No results found. Please try a different search term.” (Empty state message)
- Calls-to-action (CTAs): “Buy now” (Button label)
- Onboarding copy: “Welcome to our app! Let’s get started by setting up your profile.” (Onboarding message)
- Navigation copy: “Home,” “Settings,” “Profile,” “Help” (Navigation labels)
- Tooltips and pop-up messages: “Click here to learn more” (Tooltip message)
Chisel’s Onboarding copy and tooltips to get started.
- Confirmation messages: “Your purchase was successful!” (Confirmation message)
Here is a list of some common types of UX writing:
- Interface copy
- Instructional copy
- Error messages
- Empty states
- Calls-to-action (CTAs)
- Onboarding copy
- Navigation copy
- Tooltips and pop-up messages
- Confirmation messages
There are two ways to go about testing UX writing. One is to conduct user testing, giving your users specific tasks to complete within the product and then observing and analyzing their interactions with the text.
The other way is to conduct A/B testing, where you test the different text variations to determine which version is more effective in achieving the desired user behavior.
A good UX writer has qualities like active listening, great at building deep relationships, open to learning attitude, and a designer’s mindset.
They will also have a strong understanding of user behavior, psychology, and language and the ability to craft UI copy. It communicates to the users what the digital product is all about and guides them throughout the process.