In UX writing an emphasis on research is essential in creating great content for your users. We want to provide informative content to our users with thorough research, but also ensure our writing is engaging and interesting to users. However, before we can dive into the research portion, it’s important to start with the fundamentals of UX writing.
What is UX Writing?
The formal definition of UX writing is the art of designing the words, pictures, and videos that a user will be interacting with as they navigate through your final product. When writing we are also designing in a sense, to convey to our users our intention through content. Not only are we writing but we are following a proven process similar to the way we design in UX. Originally this is referred to as “the art of designing” by the first content strategists and UX writers. Instead of designing components of our application we are designing using words, pictures, and videos.
How is UX Writing different from Copywriting?
UX writing is very different from copywriting because we follow a user process where great amounts of research and testing are involved. As UX writers, we determine what the user needs to hear and communicate that using images and words. Images are an incredibly powerful tool specifically in this case when working with UX writing. We need to ensure that the imagery we choose carefully communicates purpose and intention.
3 Key Concepts in UX Writing
1. Being Direct
When we say being direct in your UX writing we are asking does your writing use clear and concise messaging? This means avoiding long blocks of text in your designs, many if not all users don’t want to sit there and read a lengthy web page. Taking into account your own experiences browsing the internet, when was the last time you sat down to read the full contents of a web page? We as users, don’t read the entirety of the content on a web page. Typically we scan through the content and hastily look for interactive elements such as buttons and links. Our intent when visiting a website is to quickly seek the information we came for and move on. This is where an emphasis on efficiency is key in UX writing, how quickly can you display a solution for users before they lose interest?
2. Usable Wording
From there you can determine if your writing is usable, meaning that it’s functional and also motivating. When we refer to something in UX as “usable writing”, we’re highlighting the functionality of this writing in the UX design. Ask yourself does this wording function? Even including a little bit more information can provide enough context to convey your meaning as you want it to be intended. Usable writing can also refer to wording that is motivating, leading our users to interactive elements throughout the sight. The significance of writing something that is motivating can make all the difference in your user’s experience, almost like creating an incentive for them. An example of motivating UX writing would be a scenario where UX writing guides users, would be in the comparison charts that YouTube uses to compare their free video streaming and premium YouTube TV streaming. These charts show features that the premium service includes while the other does not. So we’re giving the user an incentive as to why they would want to upgrade to YouTube TV. This defines what it means for something to be functional and motivating. It has to add value.
3. Brand Voice
Finally, the third key concept is whether your writing is well adapted to your brand’s personality and tone. Often many companies have overlooked the importance of their brand’s voice in past years. In current branding trends, a crucial part of UX writing is utilizing this concept of a brand personality. When writing how can you speak from the tone you have established for your brand’s voice, is it a humorous and encouraging account? Similar to that of the language teaching application “Duolingo”, where the function of the mascot and application continuously encourage their users with a fun and inviting tone or a more silly one on social media that relates to their user base. Utilizing this method can garner huge exposure for a brand and further emphasize that brand’s identity.
The UX Writing Process
Following a set of principles coined in a book called Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden, there’s a proven process to UX writing where the designer/writer has to study, learn, and build their content. Which we should be applying to our processes constantly, utilizing this we’ve created four steps that you can use as tools to create great UX writing content.
Step 1: Content Brief
When starting your UX writing process the content brief is essentially outlining your objectives for your writing. What is it you want to discuss in your writing? What solutions can you provide for your users? Among these questions, also note your intentions for your writing and how you would be able to communicate those intentions through your writing with the aid of some imagery. A content brief that is formulated thoroughly can benefit your entire UX design and writing process. When you set your goals and include an extensive background research process, moving forward with your project will be organized and more likely to accomplish those set goals.
Step 2: Content Prototype
Setting up a content prototype is the next step in this process, where you are defining call-to-action items, designating the first things you need to communicate, and where to include certain information. The content prototype acknowledges the objective to communicate to your users and essentially sets up a form of “information architecture” for your writing content. From there we can then decide on the content, where a UX designer and UX writer work hand in hand to accomplish the set communication objectives set in the content brief. It’s as if we are creating an internal structure for our UX writing.
Step 3: Create Content
Once we’ve finished setting up our content prototype we can then move on to the exciting step of finally creating the content. At this stage we are builders, building out our writing utilizing the structures we created in our prototype ensuring we are meeting those goals and objectives clearly and concisely that are easily readable to our users. Delivering this content is, of course, a huge part of how our information directives are consumed, for we may have all the correct intentions but if it’s executed poorly the UX writing can’t correctly serve its purpose. Pay attention to successful wording, even as you’re simply browsing through other sites it can be helpful to note the way other UX writers have stated their concepts and how they were conveyed successfully to you and easy to understand. Some companies even set up style guides for their UX writing, to inform their users in the same tone or style throughout their site or application. The idea of making notes of successful wording often comes in handy regardless of what topic is being discussed, when you can talk to your users in a way that doesn’t confuse or overwhelm them, and get your point across you have successfully met your writing objectives.
Step 4: UX Writing Testing
For our fourth and final step, we will measure the readability of our UX content with UX writing testing. We can split this testing into two different types of content testing, contextual testing or exploratory testing, and A/B testing. Contextual testing is done during the actual consumption of the platform of the technology experiences. While A/B testing is a more data-driven process of testing your writing content and if one page performs better than another page. The goal is to see where we are increasing conversions based on the data analysis from our testing. Details like what percentage of users scroll past certain portions of text? How much time do users spend on a given page? And what actions come from that? Testing your UX writing is a crucial part of ensuring your writing is delivering solutions for your users and providing a good user experience for them.
UX writing is best when built on these specific fundamentals and proven processes. When UX writers can communicate to their users in an easy-to-understand and efficient way, users are more likely to leave with the solution they came to your site for in the first place. UX writing that is functional and comes from a place of wanting your audience to learn, you can create impactful UX writings.
Check out our article on 5 UX Methods & Trends to Follow in 2022.
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