It was a weary day at work. I pulled the refrigerator door open to look for veggies to cook, and to my dismay, I found only tomatoes and onions in stock. I was exhausted to the point that I dreaded the thought of stepping out again.
Soon, my fidgety fingers replaced the danger sign of red tomatoes with a confirmed order from Zomato. However, this time something seemed different. I noticed a short bio under the name of the delivery executive assigned to me. These 2-3 lines captured my attention and had the desired impact on me.
This extra bit of information struck a chord with me. Sure, I was hungry, but for a change, I did not pester him to arrive early. Instead, I was ready to wait for more time than usual. Those few words had stirred up my emotions, and now I sat ready to offer him a generous tip.
What’s going on here? Have you been in this situation before?
The craft of content-first design had me that day and the days to follow. I was led by the invisible thread of empathy with a simple copy.
This is an example of the power of creating a powerful and invisible copy. They understand users, create thoughtful content, induce empathy and subconsciously invite them to act. An effective copy can move your user to be more patient, considerate and induce feelings of empathy. This is the art of UX writing.
We are living in an era of a digitally-connected world. This provides for ample opportunities to target millions of customers. Empathy is just one aspect of the best UX writing practices. Understanding how to make use of user reflexes to their advantage can generate remarkable experiences. And that is the reason why UX writing has emerged as a new writing genre.
The roadmap to digital success aims to reduce the pain points of user experience along the process. With the best coding and designing, the next on the agenda is creating a good copy to help the user recover from a bad experience. This is where UX writing comes into play.
How to master the art of UX writing?
The art of UX writing is the practice to create thoughtful content.
UX writing is the practice of crafting micro-copy, e.g., navigation labels and macro-copy, e.g., confirmation-email, which guides a user to interact within a product. UX writing is instrumental in shaping buttons and menu labels, notifications, a call to action, error messages, as well as informative pieces on product usage. To write a memorable, effective, user-guided copy is what constitutes as UX writing.
According to Statisticbrain.com, the attention span of an average person is 8 seconds. Another source at blog.bufferapp says, 55% readers read a blog post for 15 seconds or less. Mandatory ads, unsolved bugs push the limits of users. They create a bad interface and drive users away.
With a UX writer working with the researcher, software developer, designer, and content strategist, their ability to bring together the right combination of words can prevent a customer from encountering a bad situation or experience.
UX writing invokes a clear, concise and useful UI copy. They communicate precisely and turn a bad copy into a great one. Keeping in mind the short attention span of users, they are designed not only to express your brand, but also to direct the user’s action to improve usability and prompt action as a result.
To make the most of your writing, it is essential to understand what a user wants, what he’s feeling now and how you want them to feel with your copy. UX writing is next to being perfect in what ones do. As a writer, you need to put a lot of effort to be this precise, as to hit the bull’s eye. Binge-read great works, practice to write and rewrite, live in a world of thesaurus until you become able to explain complicated ideas in simple words.
UX writers: Messenger of a good error message
User experience writers are the advocating voice of a company’s brand. They are responsible for the content that drives the digital experience. UX writers mend the details that are sore to the eyes and make sure the experience with the product is a positive one for the existing user.
The latent potential for the need of UX writer was realized quite late. However, a UX writer is not to be confused with any other writer like a technical writer, content strategist, business analyst or the marketing team. UX writers are responsible for generating a human-centric message instead of a robot-sounding memo to ease a consumer’s frowns while reading a text. A UX writer speaks user language and encourages them to share a conversation.
The emerging need of UX writers?
The role of a UX writer has emerged quite recently in the growing digital marketing space, in product modernization, and other related avenues. Despite their nascentness, they have proved to hold a promising and bright future for the time to come.
In the process of designing a product first and writing a copy last, a lot of design problems go unnoticed only to be realized at the later stage of the product development process. So, no matter how good a design is, a wrong text takes away all the admirable features away, revealing a design problem in the initial stage itself.
A UX writer works as an intermediary between a user and a machine, striving to make the machine sound more human. Enabling the machines to share a conversation with the user in order to transform the user experience with the product.
UX writers are expected to correct a copy throughout the entire process, unlike copywriters who make a copy readable only after the designing phase. Users are usually time-crushed. A UX writer works with a ‘front loading’ technique where they cut to the chase and take them straight to the point.
Decoding the growing phenomenon of UX writing
‘Resident Wordsmith’ is the term Google coined for the UX writing team. The luxury to hire a UX writer is now picking pace. Nowadays, big tech companies like Google, Amazon, PayPal, and others are hiring a UX writing expert.
The consumption of digitally produced goods and the integration of evolving technology has transfused into the daily lives of people quite a lot. So much so, that a seamless transition into virtual reality requires a humanistic quality. After all, at the end of the day, all businesses deal with a human at the other end.
Moreover, to automate their customer service process and sales, many companies have introduced Chatbots and Voice User Interface(VUI). Optimization of user experience is only possible with a synchronized approach in TEXT + TECH interaction.
As a result, the right selection of words is necessary. To personalize their response and to curate a user-focused experience, professional UX writers are in demand.
Skill-set you need to be a good UX writer
Research-based justification: One who can tell the reason behind using ‘register’ button instead of ‘sign up.’ Playing with the right words is important as much as keeping it simple. Creating concise and easy to translate copies comes with research and testing.
Editorial Background: Companies hiring a UX writer are looking for people with formal training in English, journalism, communication, creative writing, understanding micro-copy, and having UX and B2B product experience.
Behavioral Knowledge: To be able to think from other people’s perspective is a great way to provide an unforgettable experience. User empathy is key to creating user-oriented communication to avoid user unpleasant encounter with User Interface design.
Writing and collaboration: Needless to say, having a good command over vocabulary and the power to collaborate with a developer, researcher, marketer, and designer are a universal set of skills a UX writer should possess.
Designing: In case of a UX writer, writing is the same as designing. This will help in developing a better understanding of both, narrative design and conversational design. And having expertise in both will lead to the smoothest of designs.
How to exercise the best UX writing practices?
So, you have come this far. That means you’re willing to take up this job and want to know the best practice to follow in industry. Be a friend, share the joy! After all…
‘Writing is easy, all you have to do is cross out the wrong words’ – Mark Twain
Writing UI text should follow these general rules for a better UX:
1. Sound Human: Use fewer jargons and use a more user-friendly approach. Don’t sound robotic. It should be more engaging and conversational, for eg, the UX employed by PayPal. Also, complimenting users at the end of the page, such as ‘You are good to go!’ gives them an assurance that they have followed the correct procedure till now.
2. Concise and consistent copy: Though UX writing may appear to be quite a difficult task, but is, in fact, easy to follow. The rule is to select a word and stick to it throughout the copy and be consistent with it. If a button in the first page read Next, then the other should be the same instead of Proceed or Continue.
3. Motivate user: A good micro-copy delights the user and keeps them interested. It encourages them to not ignore the signs and opt directly for the right solution as illustrated in the example below. Usually, when a pop-up box appears on a screen, we are inclined to press the cancel button. Although in the example below, you will find yourself hesitating to disagree with the suggestion. After all who would like to make a bad choice.
4. Recover from bad interface experience: ‘Page not found’ is a major turnoff for any user. At times, it is frustrating and creates a bad experience for the visitors. Companies are now being more creative with the use of graphics and UX text, thus retaining the brand value they have created. From Google, Amazon to Pixar, any temporary service down error is replaced with a page with engaging graphics and meaningful text.
5. Empathetic: How about visiting a website with one mind and leaving with two? If you succeed in doing this, it means you know how to evoke empathy. To write in a captivating manner shows them you care. Your whole design is centered to provide product and services, but to whom? The end-receivers are humans. Therefore, empathy is crucial to design thinking.
6. Answer concern: There’s always a doubt while trying something new. If a user isn’t willing to pay now, then what? UX writing anticipates questions, eliminates concern and informs you in advance. Here, you can see how Google Ads have already cleared the air with their payment and revise approach.
7. Benefit-driven copy: When writing a copy for your product, it should be benefit-driven instead of feature-driven. The use of end language is the most effective way to redirect your customer to your website. This also helps establish the brand voice and personality.
The Future Ahead
Technology has shifted the world of business from traditional to digital marketing. The dynamic landscape of the digital world has pushed businesses to come up with innovative solutions in the growing competitive space. To stand out among competitors, businesses started looking out for ways to increase their business visibility and user engagement.
Earlier, when any business undergoes a digital transformation, the tiny details, i.e., microcopy is often overlooked in the pursuit of a better design and development process. For a long time, they thought of it as trivial information. The user interface which was once deemed unnecessary has now emerged as a powerful tool to guide users.
Now, that they have realized the power of tapping the user emotion, they are hiring UX writer to draft a delightful copy to work wonders. Example: Tata creative way to request for cookies permission has garnered worldwide attention and appreciation.
Writing has become an integral part of the digital and design world as it helps to understand messages clearly and enjoy product and services immersively. Since businesses aim to provide a user-centric experience, it holds a promising future for UX writing to humanize the tech-world.