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The role of ‘UX writer’ has become increasingly sought-after as companies make user experience (UX) a focal point for their business. But what exactly does a UX writer do?
Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic uptick in awareness across the marketing and technology industries about the importance of user experience (UX).
Companies that do UX well have reaped considerable rewards, and businesses have increasingly prioritised creating a smooth, seamless user experience across their digital touchpoints.
With this rise in UX awareness has come a proliferation of specialist UX roles: UX designer, UX researcher, UX consultant, UX writer. Some of these are wholly new roles, while others are a new slant on a role that might have been around for some time.
In this article I’ll take a closer look at the role of UX writer, sometimes known as UX copywriter. What does the discipline of UX writing involve, and how does it differ from copywriting or content writing? And is it the same thing as a content designer?
For more on UX, visit Econsultancy’s user experience and usability hub or download our guide to User Experience and Interaction Design for Mobile and Web. For more on job descriptions, download our report on Modern Marketing Job Desriptions.
UX writers are responsible for crafting the text that appears throughout a website, app or other digital product interface. This includes everything from error pages (404s, 401s, 502s, etc.) confirmation messages and help pop-ups to buttons, menus, and sign-up forms. These little bits of text that appear throughout a product are often referred to as ‘microcopy’.
UX writers have a responsibility to guide a user through using the product in an intuitive manner. This means that they need to have a deep understanding of the product and its design and development process as well as of the product’s user base. UX writers are often called upon to conduct user testing and interpret data and analytics in order to understand how the product is used and how effectively the copy is performing.
However, a UX writer isn’t someone who simply comes in after a product is already designed and fills in the blanks with text. Instead, UX writers are instrumental in shaping the experience of a product. They are embedded within design teams, working hand-in-hand with UX and UI designers, UX researchers and information architects to ensure that product layout and copy work seamlessly together.
UX writers also need to make sure that the copy is achieving business objectives while keeping the user and their needs front of mind.
UX writing is sometimes confused for copywriting (particularly as the role is sometimes referred to as a ‘UX copywriter’). However, while many UX writers have a background in writing marketing copy, the difference is in the objective: copywriting is designed to market to the user. It is inherently persuasive, aimed at attracting new users, engaging them, and convincing them to upgrade, spend more, or make a purchase.
Marketing copy often sets out to nudge the user down a path they might not originally have been on, whereas UX writing is there to smoothly guide the user towards their intended goal and facilitate their experience of using the product.
Copywriters and UX writers do have one key thing in common: brand tone. Just as copywriters need to be able to craft copy that uses a brand’s distinctive tone, so too do UX writers need to be able to convey the brand’s voice across all touchpoints and in a consistent fashion.
Similarly, UX writers are not responsible for writing content marketing or editorial, though they may have an editorial background and call upon similar skills. With that said, a UX writer might be called upon to help other content creators in the organisation to understand and communicate the brand’s tone, or tasked with creating a company-wide content style guide that is referenced by content writers across the organisation.