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UX writing as a design practice

From the above image, you may understand that UX writing’s effort is to humanize the copy used in the interfaces. In comparison, what copywriting is to marketing, UX Writing is to a product.

UX writing is the process of presenting the text data to give users a clear and conversational tone and language by empathizing with them. Technically, any content on an interface is UX writing though a clear message that the user understands is the crux of it. 

As seen in the image above – “An authentication error has occurred” sounds robotic and machine-like. A message that reads, You’ve entered the wrong username and password,” shows empathy with the user. This minor change plays a vital role in creating an intuitive user experience and product.

UX writing is a way of guiding the user to complete the required action by providing a clear message to proceed or act. The voice and tone enhance the user experience of a product.

Basic guidelines for incorporating UX writing

  1. Understand the user – Understanding the user will provide an insight into the audience’s demographic when they are using your product. Localizing the text to make it conversational and easy to understand creates endears the user to the product.
  2. Understand the domain – This is a necessary step to have a relevant copy for your product. Domain-dependent texts work effectively as the end-users know frequently used industry jargon. For example, if you are creating a product for a travel portal, technical copy such as “Authentication failed” can be time-consuming to understand. However, replacing it with “Incorrect password” gets right to the point and gets the job done quickly.
  3. Understand the product – A successful product depends on forming an instant connection with its target audience. Conversational and intuitive prompts that are appropriately timed aid brilliantly in building in this connection. 
  4. Here are a few pointers to create a conversational product, 
    1. Provide a sense of exclusivity to the customer
    2. Convey the message clearly
    3. Create urgency in the message (part of the persuasive design technique)
    4. Give a sense of assurance and build trust
  5. Be concise – Write to-the-point clear messages for a less cognitive load on the user. Although it need not mean that we cut short the message.

Examples of how UX Writing can incorporate into an interface

  1. CTAs – The Call to Actions need to be precise to enable faster decision making for the end-user. 
  2. Menu and Navigation – The information architecture and user flow navigation should be domain-specific, and according to the user’s understanding. Naming your cards in a friendly tone and language during card sorting exercises helps this. 
  3. Inline messages (hints) – Providing easy to understand supportive texts and intuitive prompts make navigation easier for the user. 

There are plenty of references available with design systems and style guides on how products across various domains incorporate UX writing. Here is a consolidated list.

To conclude, UX writing enables the product designer’s work to reach end-users. A marketing content writer works after the design phase, while the UX writer works during the design phase.

References

  1. Chen. “What Is UX Writing? Part 1: Definitions & Examples.” Medium, UX Collective, 31 Oct. 2018, uxdesign.cc/what-is-ux-writing-definitions-and-examples-30164e565706.
  2. Quinn, Morgan Marie. “14 Rules of UX Writing.” Medium, Prototypr, 13 June 2019, blog.prototypr.io/14-rules-of-ux-writing-6097cc3064ca.
  3. Tenhue, Nicholas. “A Quick Guide to UX Writing.” UX Blog, UX Blog, 9 May 2018, theuxblog.com/blog/ux-writing-guide.

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About the Writer

  • Harshita Ratnaparkhe

    Harshita is a Lead Product Designer and has been with synerzip for three years. She has extensive experience working in pharmaceutical design and has a keen interest in interaction design and design systems. Harshita has a Bachelors degree in Engineering with a Masters in Human-Centered Design from the Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bengaluru. 

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