Ever stumbled across a website or app and felt lost when staring at a wall of text in front of you? That’s likely because of a lack of UX writing. UX writing is the art and science of crafting textual content that users experience when interacting with digital platforms.
Importance of UX Writing
UX writing is more than just words. It’s a bridge between users and digital interfaces. When done right, it guides, assists, and informs. But, if you’ve ever felt frustrated or confused by an app or website, you’ve probably experienced the pitfalls of poor UX writing.
You might sometimes hear UX writing being called ‘microcopy’ but microcopy is just one part of the overall UX. You’ve probably come across microcopy without even realising it. It’s the little text snippets you find on buttons, menu items, notifications, and error messages. Think of it as the unsung hero of the digital world – those tiny words that make a massive difference.
Differences Between UX Writing and Copywriting
You’d be forgiven for thinking the word UX writing is just a dressed-up version of copywriting, but the two do serve different functions and should be treated as separate entities.
While both are crucial in the digital landscape, UX writing focuses on guiding the user through the website or app, whereas copywriting persuades and sells, trying to get you to that all important email sign up form or ‘add to basket’. To be clear – both have their place, they’re just different.
When distinguishing between these two forms, there’s an element of emotional appeal vs. functional guidance: Copywriting often evokes emotions to entice users, such as painting an aspirational picture of how the user’s life could be if they start using a product or service, whereas UX writing provides clear, functional directions of what they need to do in order to achieve a desired goal.
But fear not, this doesn’t mean that UX writing is dry or bland, with a strong and authentic brand voice you will be able to evoke certain emotions throughout your website.
Characteristics of Good UX Writing
The primary goal? Be clear. Confusion is the enemy. Whether it’s an error message or a call to action (CTA), every word should be chosen with the user’s understanding in mind. And remember, clear doesn’t mean boring – you can still be informative and use your brand’s tone of voice to add a bit of personality.
Every word counts in UX writing. But how do you strike a balance between being concise and informative? Too many words and you start to convolute the message, too few and the text can easily feel characterless and robotic. The key is to keep it brief, yet meaningful, giving the user all the information they need at that moment in time.
A successful UX writer places themselves in the user’s shoes. Why? Because if we aren’t tuned into their needs, motivations, or challenges, we risk creating content that doesn’t resonate. This is especially important when it comes to CTAs and navigation – you know where you want your users to go next, but is it logically the next place they would want to go?
How to Master UX Writing
Know Your Audience
Imagine talking to a friend. You’d probably use words and phrases they understand, right? That’s precisely how UX writing should be – familiar, friendly, and relevant. Even so, you have to bear in mind your brand voice – if your audience is expecting a more straight-down-to-business approach, then you need to respect that.
In the world of UX writing, (along with many other design and UX elements) A/B testing is the way forward. A/B testing is a way to test out two (or more) different versions of a web page and see which performs better. While you may know which version you prefer, it might not resonate in the same way with your target audience. Test, tweak, and test again until you hit the sweet spot.
The digital world is ever-evolving, and your preferred style of UX writing might not work seamlessly with every design style. There will be times when a minimalist approach is best, and times when more information on the page is appreciated. Similarly, your audience might not always be the same, and even if they are, what they respond to might change. So, keep learning, stay updated, and always be on the lookout for ways to improve your writing.
As technology advances, UX writing will play an even more significant role in creating meaningful digital experiences. With voice assistants, augmented reality, and more, the demand for clear, concise, and effective writing will increase. While tech may drive innovation, it’s the human connection that allows us to enjoy and experience it fully.