The UX writer career path can take several routes as most people tend to shift toward a UX career. However, most people transition from a marketing or technical writing position to a UX writing job.
The technical writer career path usually starts with some experience in a technical field. That field can be anything from programming to engineering.
Most organizations that hire technical writers tend to add a requirement for technical experience. It gives potential writers a unique perspective on the technical side of things.
After a few years in a technical field, you can shift towards a technical writer career. It starts by understanding how technical writing works, different types of technical writing, and working on your writing skills.
In this article, we’ll go over the various roles technical writers go through, along with how you can start your career.
Let’s dive right in.
What Exactly is the UX Writer Career Path?
If we break down the UX writer career path, it starts with a bachelor’s degree. While the major can be anything, it’s best if you specialize in a technical field. Most UX writers major in engineering, computer design, development, or marketing.
For the most part, a UX writer starts with a technical writing or copywriting position. It’s important to have a writing background because it’s a major part of the UX writing job. Even though writing only makes a fraction of what you have to do.
That’s why people who transition to a UX writer career from a non-writing background tend to take longer to adjust.
Furthermore, if you’re just starting out your professional career, it’s best to pursue internships in startups and tech companies. The fast-growing environment complements your growth.
On top of that, you have other UX careers you can go for too. You can become a UX designer, UX researcher, UX engineer, or part of the development team. However, if you choose the UX writing career path, you’ll have to start by understanding certain points of view.
Firstly, you have to think from the perspective of multiple users to make sure your content is unanimously understandable. Secondly, you need a technical perspective to actively work with the development team. Thirdly, you need a creative perspective to work with the design team.
With enough experience, dedicated UX writers can take the roles of product managers or project managers. With those roles, they can manage the entire development process, UX research, UX design, UX writing, content strategy, and the product’s functionality.
Alternatively, a UX writer can also eventually become a content strategist or part of the information architecture team.
Starting Out in UX Writing
Whether you’re starting with a UX career or doing a career change, you need to start from the base. If you’re already working with or within the UX writing community, you probably already have the necessary skills.
If you’re working with UX designers, UX engineers, UX researchers, and other UX professionals, then you have some of the skills. It’s the same for content strategists and other writers who are transitioning towards a UX writing career.
Regardless of where you’re starting, the UX writer role requires you to have a few key skills.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a UX Writer?
Keep in mind that as a former product designer, content writer, or UX professional, you might already have some of these skills. Regardless of that, keep reading to understand how these skills help UX writers in their daily jobs.
That will help you understand how to upskill yourself and adjust your existing talents for UX writing.
User Experience (UX)
UX is a very research-heavy field where there’s a need for continuous user research. Excessive qualitative and quantitative research is how companies ensure that they have the correct user personas, brand voice, user flows, and copy.
Without adequate research and usability tests, companies won’t be able to tell whether their interface works or not until they launch. At that point, it’s hard to distinguish what the exact problem is.
For the most part, UX design and UX writing share research methods. You can do user surveys for quantitative data. At the same time, you do interviews and develop user personas for qualitative data. Then, collaborate with usability analysts to do A/B testing to see how users interact.
That’s why people who understand the design process, visual design, UI design, and UX design have an advantage since their research methods are similar.
In addition, UX writers need to carry out research on the words these use. Conversation mining helps determine how to communicate with the target audience. That helps lay down the foundation for the editorial guidelines and wording in the UX copy.
Since it’s a UX writing position, there will be some writing to do. However, you don’t need to know how to draft entire articles and documentation. Instead, you need sharp writing skills and the ability to use grammar and language in creative ways.
If you have prior experience with writing jobs, you’ll have a good idea of how to adjust your writing skills. It would mostly be about creative ways to say a lot by saying less. And, as part of the UI and UX of digital products, you’ll have to write easy-to-understand content for target users.
If you don’t have a writing background, start by evaluating where your writing skills are. Then, depending on what you find out, start developing them. You can go to sites like Technical Writer HQ and the UX Writing Hub to learn proper writing skills.
Your thought process tends to vary depending on what profession you are from initially. For example, if you already work in copywriting, marketing, or journalism, you’ll understand that words are part of UX design.
Through conversational writing, you can have a better chance at understanding user needs, resonating with the users, and achieving business goals in the long run.
Utilizing Design Tools
While UX writing and UX design are separate UX career paths, they need to work together. That’s why it’s also important for UX writers to understand UX design. Furthermore, they should familiarize themselves with common design tools.
Working with the design teams and engineering teams allows the UX writer to get the user’s perspective. That allows them to write UX copy that resonates with users.
Knowing how to use various design tools allows UX writers to create mock designs, get insights into how designers work, and see words as part of the whole design.
At the same time, it will help ease communication with the design teams, making collaboration more efficient.
It’s crucial to have an excellent content strategy behind UX writing. You need to have an idea of all the terminologies, marketing content, and features to accurately write UX copy.
As a whole, UX writers should be aware of each product and its pages, screens, user flows, and CTAs. They should also work with the marketing teams to learn what they’re doing.
All of this helps in writing better UX content for the users. On top of that, it’s also important to take in the company’s branding documents, style guide, and tone of voice. All of this will help write UX content that’s true to the company’s image and helpful to the users.
On the off chance that these documents don’t exist, you should make an effort to create them even though it’s not in your job description.
Communications skills come in handy for a number of reasons, starting with the ability to converse with users indirectly. Furthermore, you need to communicate and collaborate with the UX team and other teams.
On top of that, there’s a good chance that you’ll be defending your work to senior management. For that, you need a mix of good communication and presentation skills.
You need to have enough patience to continually explain your work to others.
Additionally, if you’re managing several UX projects, it will also help in project management.
It’s useful to have good placement skills because it helps you understand UX from a UI perspective too. Since UX and UI go hand in hand, it’s important to understand both sides.
For example, you should have a precise idea of where error messages will pop up. That will help you develop better error messages that work with their environment.
Curiosity and Learning
The digital industry is in constant flux and that means the UX field is constantly changing. Working with digital products means that UX writers need to make an active effort to stay up to date with the latest trends and news.
While this doesn’t directly help with the UX writer’s role, it does help get better job opportunities. Career prospects tend to increase when you’re able to stay relevant within your industry.
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How Do You Get the Skills for Becoming a UX Writer?
You know what skills you need to start with the UX writer career path, but you still need to build them. While it’s likely you have most of the skills above if you’re going for a career change, you should still do the following.
Start By Taking a UX Writing Course
While it’s not necessary to take a course, it’s still best to start with one. A good UX writing course will help you through the fundamentals and provide meaningful insights.
Furthermore, it will show your employers that you’ve made an active effort to learn. It’s also best to practice what you learn by doing mock projects. They can also be part of your UX writing portfolio.
Usually, a UX writing course will help you learn writing basics, UX research, design tools, testing, and will provide practical exercises.
If you wish to start from the basics, start by taking a foundation course. Then, move on to advanced and specialized courses to further develop specific skills.
For example, you can take a course on conversational design in UX to learn how to develop copy for chatbots.
Join a UX Writing Community
There are plenty of UX writing communities and groups that help you connect with other UX writers. You can find writing tips, course updates, the latest insights, and even leads from a community.
Furthermore, connecting with other UX writers also allows you to ask questions. You can also take advice, opinions, and help from others with any project you’re doing.
Since there are a lot of others who are new to UX writing, you can easily find relevant learning material. Plus, learning from the experience of others always helps.
Try to Find Helpful Writing and Design Tools
There are several writing and design tools online. You need to find the ones that work for you.
For writing, you can start by getting to know about basic tools like Grammarly, Hemingway App, CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, Copywritely, Verbix, and Readable.
For design, you can start with Figma and Adobe software. However, you should start with Figma because it allows writers and designers to create sketches together.
However, it’s best to learn what design tools are in use by your company’s designers. Then, focus on learning those.
If you’re not working in an organization, you can ask UX designers what design tools to focus on. For that, you can join UX design forums and relevant Reddit subs.
Be On Top of Industry Trends
Since UX writing is a constantly changing and growing field, it’s crucial to stay up to date with industry trends.
You can do that by following relevant publications, blogs, and podcasts. Other than that, you can join public Zoom meetings, connect with UX leaders on LinkedIn, join relevant Reddit AMAs, and join UX writing communities.
Or, you can simply do a Google search and you’ll have tons of articles at your disposal.
If you make an effort to read articles and follow podcasts, you’ll stay up to date and will keep getting relevant insights. If you want to dive deeper into a UX subtopic, you can always move to UX writing books for in-depth knowledge.
Build a Robust Portfolio
Last but not least, one of the most important things to do is to create a UX writing portfolio.
Your portfolio is an advertisement of your UX writing skills. Therefore, add your best work to it. You can also categorize your portfolio according to different industries or skills.
It’s best to add case studies to your portfolio. For example, if you’re showing your work, you should include a report of the results of your work.
If you’re completely new to UX writing, you can always add mock projects to your portfolio. Try to provide a description of what the problem was with the existing copy. Then, showcase your research to verify the problem and find a solution. After that, you the alternative copy for your mock project.
Keep in mind that UX writing heavily relies on your collective abilities. Therefore, a portfolio is one of the best ways to gauge a UX writer’s skill.
What is the UX Writer Career Trajectory?
After you are in the UX writing world, you’ll notice that there are two linear career trajectories. However, this is only for people who specifically want to continue with UX writing.
Firstly, you can become an individual contributor who won’t have to manage any team. Organizations where you can take this career path usually have their job titles like this:
- UX Writer
- UX Writer II
- UX Writer III
You’ll find this career path in large tech companies like Microsoft, Dell, and IBM.
The second career path is more common among UX writers. On that path, you eventually lead a team of writers and actively collaborate with other departments. Here’s how your typical progression will look like in that case:
- UX Writer
- Senior UX Writer
- UX Writing Lead
- Director of UX Writing/Content
It’s a great idea to look at both career paths before starting your UX career. While most people opt for the second career path, it has its own challenges and opportunities. However, on average, the first tends to pay more.
Wrapping It Up
Once you’re on the UX writing career path, you are always open to other UX roles too. You can become a UX engineer if you can also code. UX research could be for you if you love understanding people. Become a visual designer if you really love UI design.
In any case, a UX writer career path provides numerous internal and external opportunities.
However, if you want to continually grow your UX writing career, continue upskilling, do new courses, and stay up to date with industry trends.
If you are new to UX writing and are looking to join the professional UX writer community, we recommend taking our UX Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamental skills for UX writing, how to successfully land UX writer interviews, and how to stand out from the rest of the crowd as an expert UX writing candidate.