UX Writer vs Copywriter: What's the Difference?

Updated on January 20th, 2022
UX Writer vs Copywriter: What's the Difference?

For copywriting and UX writing, the core remains the same but the focus is different. Think of it like this, UX writing is the thought process behind a good user experience while copywriting is the actual writing part. 

Still a bit confused? 

You need to start by understanding that user experience is a major differentiating factor today. Marketers have been emphasizing its importance through copywriting. However, UX writers now emphasize the importance of it in product management. 

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into what UX writing and copywriting are and how exactly they differentiate from each other. 

Let’s get started. 

What’s the Difference Between a UX Writer vs Copywriter? 

The best way to understand how both job roles differ is to look at the difference between copywriting and UX writing. 

Keep in mind that both UX writers and copywriters do work together, along with a content strategist and content designer. Other than them, you’ll find UX designers, product managers, and other teams from the marketing departments. 

That means both UX writers and copywriters have their designated duties and responsibilities. And that their job roles and tasks don’t overlap but instead, complement each other’s work. 

What Exactly is UX Writing? 

UX is the abbreviation of user experience and it plays a vital role in UX design. The point of UX writing is to embody the brand voice, tone, and business goals by crafting an excellent user experience through microcopy. 

Some people highlight UX writing under content writing. However, typical content writing revolves around long-form writing while UX writing is about saying more by saying less. 

The UX writer’s job is to complement the work of a UX designer. Keep in mind that while UX designers and UX writers work together, they play vastly different roles. However, it’s crucial for both of them to understand the other’s job and thought process. 

The term UX writing should come to mind when you see any microcopy on the user interface (UI) of any product. Every time you see an engaging pop-up or message when using a product or mobile apps, that’s good UX writing in action. 

Here’s a few examples of UX writing you see every day. 

  • Loading screen messages on websites, mobile apps, and even video games. 
  • Error messages that show up on your computer, web apps, and even your printer. 
  • Controls of any product. 
  • Buttons on products, such as your cellphones, keyboards, and even toasters. 
  • Notifications and pop-up messages you receive every day. 
  • Chatbots that assist you on websites. 
  • Form fields and the opaque grey entries that help you understand what to type. 
  • Onboarding sequences in products, SaaS apps, and mobile apps. 

UX writing requires insightful and dynamic thinking to develop UX copy that makes every point of contact for a user engaging. 

Therefore, the next time a pop-up window leads you to an action, that’s UX writing in action. 

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What Exactly is Copywriting? 

Copywriting has been present for quite some time now. In its present state, copywriting began when advertising companies put out ads with engaging copy. 

Copywriting is any form of copy that helps drive sales. That can be in the form of an advertisement, broadcast, website content, or even blogging. 

For any business owner, copywriting helps bring in potential leads. That’s why when copywriters are crafting copy, they need to focus on how their words can be the answer to a user’s problem. 

Sometimes, good copywriting can be a single word. However, most of the time, it’s a phrase, a paragraph, or even an article. The focus is on power words while the usage of other words is minimal. 

Some examples of copywriting that you may see every day include the following. 

  • Product descriptions on websites, including dedicated pages. 
  • Email newsletters that you receive regularly. 
  • Promotional materials that you receive via email, SMS, and other mediums. 
  • Blog posts that focus on increasing leads and converting. 
  • Print ads and flyers that you notice on boards, sidewalks, and walls. 
  • Social posts and ads that you come across on all social media channels. 
  • Content for digital products that help you learn about the digital product. 
  • Landing pages for websites that provide a service/product overview. 
  • Slogans that you hear for different brands. 
  • Radio jingles and short stories that tend to engage an audience rather than advertise. 
  • White papers for businesses and new technologies. 

Many copywriters today tend to focus on online copywriting on various platforms. However, their skill set provides them the ability to write copy for traditional media and advertisements too. 

In the end, the copy is there to inform, draw attention, and create a brand impression that leads to action. 

The Difference Between a UX Writer vs Copywriter 

Now that you have a good idea about how UX writing and copywriting differ, we can see what makes the jobs different. 

As far as the job goes, the copywriter needs to account for customer interactions through the experience. That means copywriters also need to gather user data by using research methods and base their work on that data. 

That ensures all new ideas to create content have a direct focus on the user. Since they guide users toward a specific action, they need to find an insightful way to create an experience that achieves that. 

If you think that this is converging into UX territory, you’re right. That’s because the writing part is there to encourage people to do something and UX is the thought process behind it. 

If you want to become a UX writer, you do the same thing but instead, you drive conversations. That’s because UX writing helps users when they start using a product. 

Therefore, a key difference here is that copywriters develop copy to drive sales. UX writers craft copy to help existing product users (and convert them during trials). 

The rest of the differences below are not necessarily set in stone, and we’ll explain why. 

Copywriting is Creative and UX Writing is Technical 

UX writing falls under the technical writing criteria because it aims to help product users. Meanwhile, copywriting is part of the marketing team and their efforts, thus falling under the creative category. 

However, while UX writers do need to translate technical knowledge for the user, they still need to adhere to the user experience. That means fostering creativity to make sure the user receives all information in an engaging way. 

For example, turning technical error messages into fun error messages requires a creative mind. 

Copywriting is for Customers and UX Writing is for Users 

While UX writers mostly write copy to help users, there are instances where they guide customers. 

For example, if you see messages throughout the buying process on an app or website, that is the work of a UX writer. Therefore, UX writers can also assist the experiences of customers. 

Similarly, copywriting can help upsell to existing users. 

UX Writers Help Customers and Copywriters Help Businesses 

While UX writers assist customers and users, copywriters also benefit them. For example, it can show them exactly what and how the product can help them. 

Similarly, UX writers help businesses because they ensure that they can retain customers. Increasing user satisfaction not only helps retain the customers but also fosters word of mouth. 

Word of mouth for digital products translates into high ratings, positive reviews, and valuable testimonials. Customers online tend to look for such ratings and reviews when opting to buy something. 

Therefore, the efforts of UX writers can help bring in potential customers. 

UX Writing is About Crafting Microcopy 

While most people believe that, the truth is that copywriting can also include microcopy. For example, CTAs, headers, and single-line phrases are also microcopy. 

Similarly, UX writers can end up writing entire articles and documentation. 

Therefore, both professions can and do include the use of microcopy. 

Copywriters Drive Specific Actions While UX Writing Assists 

The reason copywriters are famous for driving actions is that they develop CTAs and sales action buttons. However, UX writers also help users take specific actions. 

For example, a UX writer that is helping someone create an online account is driving a specific action. In that case, the UX writer is also driving conversions. 

UX Writers Collaborate and Copywriters Work Alone 

Many copywriters tend to work alone but the truth is, they are also working in a team. That’s because they also need to research, do testing, and create cohesive marketing materials. 

However, UX writers tend to engage with teams more often. That’s because their involvement revolves around creating a positive product experience. That’s something that requires the help of product and design teams. 

Copywriting is Only for Marketing 

It is true that copywriting is for developing marketing materials, but you have to keep in mind that they also optimize for user experience. 

Copywriters need to take the audience’s experiences into account to create copy that converts. It helps them understand how to emotionally connect with customers and provide a solution to their problems. 

Copywriters Tell Stories and UX Writers Converse 

While UX writing is about communicating with the user, it needs to happen using a theme. Storytelling is a commonly used theme by UX writers to assist user journeys. 

It’s about utilizing creativity to direct and encourage users. For example, the entire buying process of an online store can be story-based to provide a more meaningful experience. 

How Do I Differentiate UX Writers from Copywriters? 

Both UX writing and copywriting require an understanding of people’s needs, emotions, and feelings to craft a meaningful experience. 

UX writers may develop the perfect copy to make users click a button. Meanwhile, copywriters may develop the perfect CTA to make a reader act. Both seem like they follow the same principles and rules, but for different reasons. 

Both require an understanding of the audience and product and need to develop copy that’s engaging and easy to understand. And, they have to consistently edit, test, and improve their work. 

Therefore, the best way to differentiate between the two is that UX writing is for digital product use while copywriting is for marketing materials

For the most part, UX writers utilize their skills for digital products. Furthermore, UX writers can also join the process of building products. That’s what makes UX writing truly unique as they can work with the product and design team to build a product from scratch. 

UX writing jobs can also influence the product strategy and content strategy, even though there’s no formal authority. 

On the other hand, copywriters get an open platform. They can work on digital and traditional marketing materials as they mainly sell products.  

They find insightful ways of utilizing undiscovered voices and ideas to reach audiences. However, at the end of the day, copywriters tend to work alone after the research part of their job is over with. 

Wrapping It Up 

While a lot of companies have been debating about the differences between UX writers and copywriters, some have come up with a solution. That solution comes in the form of UX copywriting. 

Can a copywriter become a UX writer? Absolutely. That’s because they already understand how the job works, they only need to adjust their skills according to digital products.

 


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.