UX Writing

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What Is UX Writing?

UX writing is the practice of writing interactive copy that guides the user experience. Most famously, this includes small but important bits of text that are referred to collectively as microcopy: everything from menu and navigational labels to notifications to buttons and CTAs. However, it also includes longer-form copy like product-generated emails and instructional text that is part of a flow or an experience.

While UX writing has a strong focus on microcopy, there’s a lot more to it than just creating cute error messages. A UX writer’s primary job is to guide the user through a task with clear, readable text that’s mindful of their emotional state—for example, jokey or lighthearted copy shouldn’t appear during a sensitive financial task flow.

Because this form of copywriting is so intimately connected with the UX design process, the term “content design” is often used to refer to UX writing and the activities that support it, such as performing user research, creating voice and tone guidelines, and defining task flows. This term is meant to reflect UX writing’s integral role in the design process, as well as the reality that UX writers do a lot more than just write. In fact, in many organizations their efforts are seen as contributing to an overall UX content strategy.

UX writing is also sometimes known as “product writing,” particularly when it involves writing UX copy within an application or software product. But it isn’t limited to product—it’s just as important to consider the user experience when writing copy for websites and marketing emails.

Qualities of Good UX Writing

Effective writing has all of the following characteristics:

  • Clear: Good writing should clearly guide the user to the next step and leave them with no doubt about what will happen next in the task flow. It should never be convoluted or prioritize cleverness at the expense of clarity.
  • Concise: Users want to complete their tasks quickly, without reading unnecessary text. Concise UX copy helps them do that—and it’s also easier to read.  
  • Accessible: It’s important to make sure that your UX copy works well with screen readers and other accessibility tools. (InVision’s guide is a good starting point.)
  • Brand-appropriate: Every interaction a user has with your website or product is part of an ongoing conversation with your brand. Good UX writing leverages that conversation by making sure copy is consistent with the brand voice.  
  • Context-appropriate: As we’ve already seen, effective copy depends on the user’s frame of mind, and ignoring context can lead to a poor user experience.

As a contrast, here is an example of poor writing, courtesy of UX Movement:

Example of poor UX writing

Why It Matters for B2B Marketing

The importance of user experience to a business cannot be overstated. Customers come to a website to complete certain tasks, such as finding information or filling out an application. Good UX copy guides them through that process, helping them to successfully complete their task; conversely, a poor user experience can cause them to leave your website.

In addition, UX writing (and UX design as a whole) aims to create a positive experience for your customers, leading to greater brand loyalty. Guiding the customer to the desired information or task is especially important in a B2B context, where complex information is conveyed over a longer buying process. With its unique ability to guide and reassure the customer, UX writing is a powerful tool for increasing conversions.

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