03 October 2017

UX-writer: A New term, a Big Need

As I’ve said in the past, I think it’s important for designers to write. Designers need to perfect their way of thinking, to find an alternative way to lay out ideas, and to plan their reasoning in a structured way and writing is a tool to make that happen. Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about the different benefits of writing for designers, and more importantly, UX-designers.

When crafting great user experiences, we use all of our skills to perfect a solution.

  • We can perform in-depth user research to find out everything about the problems users are currently experiencing. This frees us to come up with innovative user flows.
  • We conduct user interviews to find out even more about our audience and see how they interact with our prototypes. We can then fine-tune all of the different stages of the user journey.
  • We design beautiful websites and apps that feel intuitive and are a joy to use. We build solutions that grow relationships between companies and their clients.

However, all of the steps above can fall flat if we ignore one thing: Words. Words serve a far higher purpose than finding the exact right shade of blue or adjusting the gradient to that sweet spot. They are incredibly powerful.

Lately, businesses are taking notice of the importance of words. One of the most sought-after titles right now should therefor come as no surprise: The UX-writer.

UX writing is the practice of designing the words people see when they interact with software. It’s about designing the conversation between a product and its user.

In many ways, it’s just writing, so don’t get thrown off by the name. Many of the things that make UX writing good are the things that make other writing good too: clarity, consistency, precision, self-awareness, a whole lot of revision, and thoughtful attention to the context and the audience. What is UX-Writing by Lisa Sanchez

If you’re a designer like me, chances are you’ve worked on a project where “the copy will arrive any day now” until you notice that, through a combination of stress and bad planning, the site goes live with YOUR WORDS. While they might not be horrible, they’re words that you spent literally four seconds coming up with. Chances are, your words are just as “on-brand” as the color choices the missing copywriter would have made had the situation been reversed. I’ve even had sites go live with my Lorem Ipsum copy still there.

The missing copywriter is also what causes software and apps to give you messages like “The software encountered a fatal exception -501”. Not very enlightening huh?

UX-writing

You encounter UX writing every time you use an app or the internet. When it’s doing its job well, you don’t even notice it.

The words we use create our brand and experience. The way I am writing in this post and on my newsletter, is part of my brand. It falls under the personal/professional format. At times, I’m even casual enough that my brand can involve animated GIF’s and emoji 👯.

Now even though Apple, Facebook, and Dropbox are hiring UX-writers, chances are that it’ll still be a while before all of your clients will have dedicated writers onboard. If you’re a freelancer like me, why not learn a new skill? That way, when they do hire writers, you’ll make friends immediately!

Writing is a huge part of the user experience and, as user experience designers, it’s time for us to be responsible for the whole thing. As I’ve discussed in the past, UX-designer is a title I’m not a fan of and that’s partially because it removes any responsibility from writing and tone-of-voice. Instead, I’m now turning to the title of UX-lead as a more fitting role. It allows me to take responsibility over the entire user experience: research, design, AND words.