What is UX writing? A comprehensive guide for beginners 

9 MINS
Claire Sy

Picture this: a first-time user downloads your app and finds themselves gliding through setup with ease, thanks to friendly, clear instructions. That’s the magic touch of UX writing. 

User experience (UX) focuses on how a person feels when they use a digital product, like a website or an app. It covers everything about their interaction with the product, from how easy it is to use to how it looks and feels. UX writing also makes sure the text on these apps and websites is as inviting and helpful as possible. 

We’ll walk you through what UX writing is, why it’s important, how it differs from other types of writing, and what it takes to have a UX writing job. Whether you’re new to this field or just curious, let’s dive into the engaging world of UX writing together! 

What is UX writing: Understanding the basics 

UX writing is about creating the text that users encounter and interact with in websites, apps, and software interfaces. But UX writing is more than crafting clear, error-free messages; it also needs to enhance the user’s experience. 

Its main goal is to smoothly guide users through a digital product. This might seem simple, but you need a nuanced understanding of user behavior and needs. Your content needs to simplify complex and technical information to be clear, concise, and user-friendly.  

Consider the process of signing up for a new service online. A UX writer needs to make the sign-up form inviting and reassuring, while also being informative. 

UX writing also plays a significant role in setting the tone and voice of the product. The choice of words, the style of sentences, and even the rhythm of the text influence how users perceive and interact with the product.  

For example, a friendly, conversational tone can make a digital product feel more approachable, while a more formal tone is more appropriate for professional or specialized software. 

What sets UX writing apart? 

There are plenty of writing styles, but why is UX writing unique? Here’s what set it apart: 

  1. Clarity. Every word serves a clear purpose. For instance, error messages shouldn’t only inform about a mistake but also guide users on how to fix it. Clear communication in UX writing helps prevent user frustration and smoothens their digital journey. 
  1. Consistency. UX writing is all about keeping a uniform tone, style, and language throughout the product. Consistency builds trust and makes the product more user-friendly. 
  1. Conciseness. When it comes to UX writing, less is more. The goal is to deliver messages in the most straightforward, most efficient way possible. Get to the point quickly and avoid overwhelming the user with too many words. 

UX writing vs. copywriting 

We’ve explained how UX writing is unique. But you might be wondering about how it differs from copywriting. Though at first glance, they might seem similar, their goals, audiences, and methods are quite distinct. Here’s how they differ: 

 UX writing Copywriting 
Purpose aims to enhance user experience helps users understand and navigate a webpage or platform easily mostly about persuasion used to highlight a brand, product, or service aims to grab people’s attention, stir up feelings, and get them to buy a product or sign up for a service 
Collaboration work closely with designers, developers, and product managers work with marketing teams  
Content Style has to be concise and functional has to be creative, emotive, and persuasive 
User Interaction have a deep understanding of user psychology and how people interact with digital interfaces must anticipate user needs and potential points of confusion focused on influencing and engaging the reader 

So, a UX writer might craft the text for a button on a flight booking app. They ensure that their user knows what to expect next when they click their buttons, like whether it will finalize the booking or lead to more information.  

Meanwhile a copywriter might develop the headline for a marketing campaign for the same app, focusing on enticing potential customers by promising easy bookings and great deals. 

The UX writing process: A UX writer’s roles and responsibilities 

Once you become a UX writer, you have some roles and responsibilities to follow. Here’s a breakdown of some UX writing fundamentals: 

1. Understanding the product and audience 

Thorough and accurate research is a crucial part of UX writing. To craft effective content, writers start by getting familiar with the product’s goals, features, and the people who will use it. This often involves market research, talking to users, and creating user personas to understand their needs, likes, and how they behave. 

When you empathize with the users and understand their challenges and objectives, you create content that’s not only relevant but also centered around the user’s experience. Conducting user research achieves this by providing insights that help your content meet the users’ needs. 

2. Collaborating with UX designers and development teams 

UX writers work closely with a UI/UX designer to understand the visual and interactive aspects of the product. They ensure their writing complements the visual and interactive elements of a product. This teamwork is crucial for aligning the text with various design components, such as buttons, menus, and icons. 

Regular interactions with product managers, developers, and designers are also essential. These helps ensure their content fits with the product plan and design, creating a smooth experience for the user. 

3. Creating a content strategy 

Creating a content strategy ensures the content effectively supports the user’s journey through the product. It involves careful planning on various text types required, like: 

  • labels 
  • instructions 
  • error message 
  • help prompts 

This process includes determining the tone, style, and voice of the content to ensure it resonates with the target audience. UX writers need to focus on clarity, brevity, and usability, striking a balance between being informative and concise. 

This is where UX technical writing skills come into play. It helps simplify complex topics into content that is easy to follow and understand. 

4. Testing and iterating content 

UX writers really get into the thick of things by joining in on user testing. It’s about watching how folks use and interact with the words they’ve put into the product. This isn’t just any old testing – we’re talking A/B testing, usability tests, and just chatting with users to get their take. 

After gathering all these insights and feedback, UX writers can refine and update their content. This iterative process may involve rephrasing, reorganizing, or simplifying the text to enhance its clarity and overall user experience. 

This ongoing cycle of testing and refining ensures that the content remains effective and user-friendly. It should keep adapting to the evolving needs and responses of the users. 

5. Localizing content for accessibility 

Successful businesses know that the more people read their content, the better. That’s why accessibility is an important factor when writing content. UX writers play a key role in creating an inclusive and universally user-friendly experience. 

If the product is intended for a global audience, UX writers may work on localizing the content, ensuring it’s culturally appropriate and understandable in different languages. This opens access to people from different countries. 

Making content accessible to everyone also means including users with disabilities. It’s a part of a UX writers’ job to ensure all users can navigate and understand the content, regardless of their abilities.  

6. Maintaining and updating content 

Users don’t want to read outdated content, so it’s up to UX writers to keep them fresh and up to date. They’re always tweaking and adjusting the words to make sure they match up with the latest changes, keeping everything relevant and easy to understand.  

For example, if your company’s website still shows last year’s product line and outdated contact information, this may confuse customers.  You need to regularly update your site content to showcase your latest products and provide current contact information to improve customer experience. 

One way of effectively doing this is setting up rules on how to keep this content updated over time. UX writers often make content guidelines to ensure everything stays consistent and top-notch, no matter how many updates roll out.  

Some of the best times to update your content is during: 

  • product/service updates 
  • seasonal changes 
  • website redesigns 
  • SEO updates 
  • company milestones 
  • legal or regulatory changes 
  • branding changes 
  • security enhancements 

7. Creating style guides 

A style guide details the tone, style, and specific writing guidelines for the product. This keeps writing consistent, which is crucial when you’ve got a big team. With more people working, coordinating gets harder. So, setting goals and team direction keeps everyone’s efforts more aligned and effective. 

It’s also key to keep detailed records of content decisions, iterations, and user feedback for future reference and guide for new team members. It helps UX writers keep track of what has worked. Plus, it’s a great tool for getting new team members up to speed. 

Samples of effective writing: Good UX writing in action 

Great UX writing is often found in common apps. For example, a good navigation app uses easy words to help guide users. It shows how clear and brief writing can make using an app easier and more enjoyable.  

These examples highlight how good UX writing seamlessly blends into the product, facilitating an effortless user experience: 

Google 

UX writing on Google

Known for its simplicity and clarity, Google’s search engine interface is a prime example of effective UX writing. The search bar’s prompt, “Search Google or type a URL,” is straightforward, guiding users what to do from the get-go. 

Additionally, Google’s error messages are clear and often come with suggestions to resolve the issue, like “Did you mean: [corrected search term]?” 

Duolingo 

UX writing on Duolingo

This language-learning app uses friendly, motivational language to encourage users to keep progressing. The copy is playful and light, reducing the intimidation factor often associated with learning a new language. Their error messages are supportive rather than critical, helping to maintain a positive learning environment. 

Airbnb 

Airbnb creates a friendly and inviting tone throughout its app and website. Their language is conversational and encouraging, so users feel at ease when booking accommodations. 

For example, their property descriptions and booking steps are clear, concise, and focused on user needs, enhancing the overall experience.

UX writing on AirBnb

Be a more effective UX writer 

A great UX can make the difference between a product that’s a joy to use and one that’s frustrating and confusing. UX writing is a crucial element in achieving this goal. It helps make websites and apps user-friendly. It’s about writing clear instructions and messages that guide people easily through a digital product.  

Good UX writing is best paired with great website navigation. Whether you’re building a new website or enhancing your online presence, Web.com’s DIY website builder can help you build a user-friendly website. Take your digital journey to the next level with solutions that are not only powerful but also a pleasure to use. 

  • Claire Sy

    Claire is a Content Marketing Writer at Web.com. Although she’s just started her content marketing journey, she’s eager to write compelling articles while learning more about the SEO and marketing world. Growing up, Claire had always loved reading, but she started taking an interest in writing through poetry and stories. She also likes playing chess in her spare time.

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