A UX writer researches customers to plan and create microcopy for websites, apps, and various digital products to help improve the user experience.
The user interface is the face of any digital product and how customers navigate through the interface is the user experience.
With so many competitors in the market for every industry, many companies rely on providing a better user experience to differentiate themselves. Especially when it comes to technology companies, it’s better to showcase your brand voice and dedication to users by providing a better user experience.
In this article, we’ll go over what the UX writer role entails, their responsibilities, and how they help companies flourish.
Let’s get started.
Intro to UX Writing
The concept of UX writing stems from the need to provide better user experiences to customers. When a customer starts using a digital product, they go through a number of steps. It’s known as the customer journey.
Here’s what it typically looks like:
Throughout the customer journey, the user goes through multiple touchpoints. Each touchpoint adds to the overall user experience while using a digital product.
UX writing is the process of ensuring that the user experience is smooth, efficient, and helps users at all touchpoints. For that, UX writers write copy to guide users through their customer journey, whether it’s on a mobile app or website.
While UX writing helps users accomplish their goals better, it also helps companies drive user behavior to achieve business goals. For example, if you want to increase engagement on a certain offering, you tweak the copy that leads that action to improve the results.
Usually, UX writing is about using clear language and simple words to help users navigate. However, it involves a lot of testing to see what collection of phrases and words would make the end-user engage more.
Depending on the product, UX writing can involve several touchpoints, including landing pages, error messages, menu buttons, and even CTAs. However, keep in mind that UX writing is different than marketing copy.
Marketing copy aims to convert potential customers and leads. On the other hand, UX writing aims to facilitate the user flow, making it more efficient, intuitive, and logical.
Therefore, UX writing requires a lot more effort than just writing. It includes extensive user research, usability testing, and a deep understanding of the design process.
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What Exactly Does a UX Writer Do?
UX writers step into the minds of users to determine ways to improve the user experience. That’s why UX writers need to empathize with the user to understand their pain points, what they need, and what they want.
Every digital product aims to solve a problem or challenge. Therefore, when developing user personas, it’s important to match each persona with a problem or challenge. As a result, the UX efforts will then focus on improving the user experience for a persona and their specific problem.
That’s why UX writers need to be able to create copy for different personas. That means they could have different experience levels, knowledge levels, education levels, language proficiency, and technical proficiency.
The UX writer needs to keep all those factors and elements in mind to be able to start writing microcopy.
A critical part of UX writing is UX design. UX writers need a good understanding of design to be able to drive cohesive product narratives across multiple platforms.
For that, they need to consistently collaborate with UX designers, product designers, and the content design team. The collective effort of the product team and UX team ensures better user experiences.
Here are a few things UX writers typically work on:
- Prompt messages in apps
- Every error message that pops up in software
- Instructions to drive an action
- CTAs for existing users
- Onboarding materials
- Tooltips and tutorials
- Menu buttons
- Form labels and fields
- Pop-up ads and chat messages
The examples above only account for some of the things UX writers work on.
Lastly, it’s important for a UX writer to maintain a consistent voice across all fronts. A detailed look into all user touchpoints should always reveal similar content flows, voice, and tone on all product interfaces.
The UX Writer’s Process in 6 Steps
To better understand how a UX writer works, we’ll summarize their process of writing into six steps.
Keep in mind that the UX writer’s job is an extensive role that requires them to act as a UX designer, content designer, content strategist, product designer, and even a product manager.
Even though they don’t have the formal authority for all those roles, they need to understand how they work and showcase those skills.
In any case, the following six-step process details the UX writing process.
1. Understand the User
The first step in the process is to understand the user and the context of their problem. UX writers start by asking various questions to understand the user space, their challenges, and the solutions they need.
Some of the questions include:
- Who’s the target audience?
- What are the problems that affect users?
- What’s the priority and importance of those problems?
- Where and when do users encounter these problems?
- What’s the best way to overcome the problem?
- Does the product solve the user’s problem adequately?
- Is there a way to improve the results of the solutions?
These questions help UX writers understand their users better because they see the user’s point of view. However, it’s equally important to look from the business’s point of view.
For that, they ask questions like:
- Does the solution for the user provide positive returns on investment?
- Are all of the business goals for the product on track?
- Does the cost of improving the UI and UX outweigh the benefits?
- What are the design implications?
When a UX writer has answers to all these questions, they’ll understand what a customer needs. Meanwhile, they’ll also have new ideas on how to give the customer what they want while also benefitting the organization.
2. Figure Out the Problem and Define It
While problem-solving is the product’s job, the UX writer needs to address how the product can solve each persona’s problem.
For that, they first need to figure out the problems that users have. Then, they define each problem and how the product addresses and solves it.
Since each customer’s journey is slightly different and starts from different touchpoints, it’s important to optimize all of them. Therefore, defining each user’s problem helps identify different customer journeys.
The idea is to smoothen the user experience regardless of where the user comes from. For that, UX writers tend to develop onboarding surveys. In other cases, they design pop-up notifications and prompts at regular intervals while a customer is using the app or website.
At this stage, UX writers tend to start working with the product design team and product managers. Furthermore, it’s also important to collaborate with UX designers and UX engineers.
The collective input of the product teams, design teams, and UX teams ensures that everyone is on the same page. This helps to define problems better and come up with universal solutions that undergo consistent optimization.
3. Conduct User Research
After the UX, product, and design team has well-defined problems, they can start conducting user research.
Dedicated UX writers understand that research makes up for the majority of the job. User experience writing needs a user’s perspective and for that, tons of preliminary and post research is necessary.
Before any form of writing starts, tons of user research begins to unfold. UX writers can either use second-hand data or conduct their own research from the very beginning. Most UX writers tend to go for the latter.
There are many qualitative and quantitative research methods. However, most UX writers:
- Read existing user stories
- Go through use cases
- Study user personas and the problems they address
- Put themselves in the user’s shoes
While UX writers need to have a keen eye for researching, most companies hire UX researchers to do this part of the job. However, UX writers still need to collaborate and contribute to the research process.
Working with UX researchers helps UX writers gain more insights into the issues and the users. Furthermore, it also helps in developing a basic competitor analysis that helps compare how other companies are tackling the same issues.
Looking at the success of other companies and building upon it in your own right is also a good skill.
4. Ideate Copy
With enough user research, UX writers then move toward iterating various copy options. UX writing creates small but meaningful copy that drives actions. However, there are always multiple options to do it.
For that, UX writers need to tap into all the user and context research. Using that knowledge, they can start creating multiple iterations of the same copy.
At this point, the design team comes into play again. Part of the content strategy that invites certain behaviors also includes design.
Therefore, multiple iterations of the copy can also have multiple design iterations. Since product design is a major defining factor for users, it makes sense to include multiple design options too.
Keep in mind that the idea is to improve app and web experiences. Therefore, whatever iteration helps users complete their tasks and actions most efficiently wins.
5. Refine Each Iteration
After a UX writer has multiple iterations of UX copy, they move on to the refinement stage.
Here, they check for clarity, accuracy, conciseness, and comprehension in the copy. That also includes any typos and grammatical errors that are there without any purpose.
Furthermore, many organizations tend to avoid passive voice in UX copy. Other refinement methods include avoiding subject-verb confusion, hard-to-understand phrases, and minimizing technical jargon.
It’s important to make the writing easy to understand for all kinds of users. A common test by UX writers is to make an unsuspecting person read UX copy to record their initial reaction. If the initial reaction is confusion for even a single person, the copy needs adjustments.
Furthermore, refinement also counts when it comes to UX design. Google design experts tend to refine their designs at least three times before final review.
That’s why it’s best to refine each iteration from both the writer and design perspective.
After that, send the iterations for final reviews. That includes reviews by engineers, marketing heads, content strategists, product managers, and even sales reps.
6. Prototype, Test, and Review
Similar to how research makes up for most of a UX writer’s job, the same is true for testing.
UX writers need to be experts in A/B testing and QA testing. That’s the only way to determine whether the UX copy will be truly successful, regardless of how much research you put into it.
Therefore, prototyping the designs and the UX copy and reviewing them is always the final step before publishing. The idea isn’t to create the perfect prototype, it’s to take an adequate amount of time to develop a prototype that works well.
For that, all the teams and stakeholders receive a pre-dev link to the prototypes. In some cases, the testing and prototyping involve real customers and users who volunteer to be beta testers.
During this period, the UX writer notes all the errors and opportunities for improvement. Then, after reviewing, one final iteration gets the necessary adjustments and goes forward for publishing.
The Responsibilities of a UX Writer
Now that you understand how a UX writer works, you can better understand their job description.
By now, you get that UX writing jobs require more than just writing skills. To understand exactly what else a UX writer tends to do, here’s a list of typical responsibilities and tasks.
- Going over all the user touchpoints across all product interfaces.
- Conducting extensive user research to determine how each point of contact affects users.
- Creating copy for digital products and websites to assist user flow.
- Helping UX designers in creating complementary designs.
- Creating long-term content strategies while working with the product team.
- Collecting, understanding, and analyzing data to utilize it holistically across the product journey.
- Working on creating style guides and writing guidelines, such as the brand voice and tone.
- Collaborating with various stakeholders and teams to ensure that all copy aligns with business goals and strategies.
- Implementing key product strategy metrics to ensure all company strategies follow similar goals.
If you want to become a UX writer, you need to understand that the responsibilities above are just the tip of the iceberg. You may have to do everything from product management to writing content in this role.
Wrapping It Up
At this point, if you think UX writing is for you, you can start by taking a UX writing course. Most UX writing positions don’t require an expensive college degree, so all you need to do is start learning.
Since UX writing creates better user experiences, you should always start by understanding what the user experience entails.
Then, one by one, build and practice each skill, including your writing, researching, testing, and communication skills.
After that, start applying for UX writing positions relevant to your experience level.
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.