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What is UX Writing

Posted by
Anastasia in Documentation UX on 11/23/20184 min read

Woman writing notes in a notebook

The role of a UX writer emerged not so long ago on the job market, but it has been growing ever since. Major companies like Google are heavily focused on everything UX-related and UX writing as well.

UX writing looks like some derivative from technical writing, however, it pursues a different goal. While an average technical writer would focus on clarity and precision of their writing, UX writers focus on communication with users and user experience.

This approach appeared due to the fact that we interact with machines more and more everyday. It doesn’t matter whether we use voice commands and get vocalized answers from Alexa or just do something in a UI. We still interact with our apps and, partly, with the people who gave them the “voice” to answer and react to our actions.

As you might have guessed, requirements for this type of writing differ from traditional technical documentation. Still, if you are a technical writing specialist looking for your career path to take a new turn - this might be it for you.

UX Writing Concept in Detail

woman in blue dress sitting in front of an open notebook at the table

Now, it is time to break down what stands behind UX writing. Here are some fundamental ideas to help you understand UX writing better. What should a UX writer do?

  • Collaborate with developers and UX designers. You can work together with designers to adapt layouts to the written content, or, vice versa - use the ready design to choose the right wording. Devs, on the other hand, will tell you what this or that functionality does exactly, for your choice of words to be more precise.
  • Be on the user’s side. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and try reading your texts anew, as if you saw them for the first time. Do the texts seem clear to you? Users won’t have as much context as you do, either. So, always check how understandable the message is in the limited context.
  • Use shorter and simpler sentences. While re-reading the texts, check grammar construction. Think about it this way - try using less words to create the essence of your ideas.
  • Put main thoughts first. After reading the very beginning of your text, a user should understand what it is about. Further you can delve into details. Remember, the beginning of a text is a strong position, which means that our mind places special attention to it and expects further sentences to be more of an explanation to the statement contained in the first sentences.
  • Be polite. This doesn’t mean you should fill you texts up with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ (although there are cases when this can be applicable, too), but rather that you need to treat future readers as people sitting next to you to whom you are explaining stuff in a friendly manner.
  • Help users achieve their goals. So, what this means in reality is - don’t just say that this and that is wrong but guide a user towards what should be done to achieve the result they need instead. It is very important to understand users; each piece of writing should help them reach their goals. Imagine that you are giving directions to users.
  • Brace yourselves. And, we are not talking about the winter here although it is certainly coming. This one is kind of new for old school technical writers . As a UX writer you need to be prepared to defend every word choice you made and be able to back it up with some research. So, tame your creativity and move on to our next point.
  • Conduct A/B testing. This means that you need to set up a randomized experiment that has two variants, A and B. Use the test results to back your choice up. UX writing is definitely not about showing off your writing style.

Conclusion

UX writing is no doubt a very exciting role a technical writer can try. This is where great writing skills meet new challenges and an entirely different approach to the work process.

Many experts are wondering whether this role is going to stay. It is hard to tell yet, really. The thing is, no one can deny that UX writing is absolutely a ‘must’ now, but, at the same time, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a UX writer on the team. This role and the responsibilities that come with it can be evenly spread across the existing employees. Such as technical writers, UX designers . But, for now, the role is highly demanded on the market, which partly advocates for its bright future.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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