In this fast-paced, ever-changing digital world, businesses need to level up their game when it comes to interacting with consumers online (e.g. on their websites and mobile apps).
With the rise of globalization and digital technology, the consumer’s interaction towards a digital product has become one of the most important determining factors in business growth. A great website design or a fast loading website is no longer enough to convince consumers to buy.
What prompts a consumer to trust a product that eventually leads to buying the product? The answer: “UX” (shortcut for user experience), which is an important ingredient in improving consumer satisfaction and loyalty towards a product.
User experience (UX), in fact, can be a game changer for start-ups, SMBs and enterprises. Improving user experience alone can have a strong impact on the buying behavior of consumers, that small business owners can very well compete with big, well-established brands.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about UX writing and its importance to any kind of business, big or small.
What is UX writing?
UX writing is all about choosing the right words to clarify everything that leads to consumer’s action and interaction with a product. In a crowded digital landscape, words like “click here” or “sign-up” is no longer enough. This is where proper UX writing comes in. A well-made UX copy serves as a “guiding voice” to lead the users to participate and interact with the product, to get them to experience the product in an enticing way, and to familiarize them with the brand’s personality.
Unlike the familiar saying “a picture paints a thousand words”, which means that a single photo may have different descriptions and interpretations, a well-crafted UX copy on the other hand, sends out ONE clear message to all users. The message should be clear enough to guide and help consumers interact with confidence, convenience and a better understanding of the digital product. The goal of a well-written UX copy is to establish clear communication between a user and the product.
How UX writing comes to play with content + design
To better explain the role and value of UX writing in content and design, here are a few examples of websites that believe in the power of good UX writing:
Facebook is one the most popular social media platforms out there and also one of the leading advertising platforms for both businesses and marketers.
If you head over to Facebook homepage, you can see a lot of UX writing all over the page, particularly in the upper section.
Facebook strategically placed all its important menus on the top page, so users can easily navigate through them without scrolling down.
Noticeably, you can see how Facebook communicates with the user to suggest a specific action. Like for example, engaging users to post something is suggested in different ways that can be seen several times on the top part of the page, including the suggestion to post on the user’s business page.
Facebook also uses personal touch to communicate with the user, as you can see under “Create Post” section where it says, What’s on your mind, [user’s name]?
Slack is one of the fastest growing workplace tools for businesses because of it’s easy-to use design.
If you are already using Slack, you may agree that the tool is so easy to use and navigate. But what makes Slack standout from the rest of the work management tools out there is the brand’s personality.
Aside from helping users navigate the app with easy-to-use navigation menus and buttons, and a simple interface, Slack provides users some fun affirmations to brighten their day.
For example, when a user waits for Slack page to load, it provides the user affirmation messages to read while waiting. Additionally, to add more good user experience, Slack wishes its users a great day at work, and even thanks them for using Slack.
Nike remains to be on top of its game in the retail industry. Why? If you see their e-commerce store, you will notice that every page spell great UX writing and design.
Nike’s homepage is simple and clean, which makes the loading time faster and the browsing experience better. And just like Facebook, all the most important elements that Nike wants to offer to its users to make them do a certain action, are all laid out on the upper part of its page, including the link to its membership page called “NikePlus”.
NikePlus is easily spotted on the top left side of the page. It directs users to its membership section, where all the benefits are clearly explained. Nike understood that less is more, which in their case: the simple the pages are, the clearer the messages will be for their users.
The role of the UX writer
Google defines a UX writer as an “advocate for Google design and help shape product experiences by crafting copy that helps users complete the task at hand. UX writers set the tone for content and drive cohesive product narratives across multiple platforms and touchpoints. As our resident wordsmiths, they work with a variety of UX design-related jobs including researchers, product managers, engineers, marketing, and customer operations to help establish connective language and a unified voice.”
Mailchimp, a popular email marketing platform, describes a UX writer in one of its job postings as someone who is “passionate about creating delightful user experiences with a solid understanding of design and editorial processes within mid-size to large organizations. Someone who loves working with a diverse array of people, embracing design challenges and obsessing about how we communicate with our customers. Must be highly collaborative, comfortable writing copy for the in-app experience, and understand how to manage requests across a variety of teams and initiatives.”
Based from the two descriptions above, a UX writer is not limited to writing a compelling copy only. One of the most crucial tasks of a UX writer is to get a better understanding of the entire product. The UX writer should also understand and work closely with the website designer and web developers to be able to create a good UX copy.
Another role of a UX writer is to have a strong empathy for the target audience by addressing some important questions like “who are your target audience?” or “what kind of tone is best suited for your audience?”.
All the insights gathered about the audience will be used to create a UX editorial strategy that should be consistent to all the brand’s products and interfaces.
The UX writer may also carry out regular analysis and health checks on an existing copy, which includes metric analysis of user sessions on the site, time spent on the page, and goal completion rate, among many others. The goal here is to provide the ultimate user experience by consistently changing and improving things for the user.
Why UX writing is important to business?
So imagine you are browsing your favorite website without any supporting texts. It will look like this:
Hmmm… isn’t that an inconvenience, right? Without supporting texts, you are lost and have no idea on what to do on the site. Properly guiding the user on what to know and what to do on the site are just one of the many reasons why businesses should incorporate UX writing on their interfaces.
Here are more reasons why a great UX copy is important in business:
Eliminates fear and uncertainty during the product experience
All products come with a learning curve that even long term or techy users need some guidance at some point. In this case, UX writing comes as a helping hand to make the product experience clear and spontaneous.
Let us take for example, AirBnB booking experience. The UX in the booking flow has eased any fears of uncertainty by showing users the price breakdown before committing to pay. By placing the text “you won’t be charged yet” below the booking button, makes it comfortable for the user to click the “book” button without the fear to proceed to the next step.
Empathizes with users as they take the next step
With proper UX writing, it can help capture the user’s in-the-moment emotions, intentions, and experiences, which are all vital in improving the user experience of the product. Here is an example from TrustPilot, a review platform for consumers.
TrustPilot offers an opportunity for consumers to review a product or service to better educate other consumers. The review process takes them step-by-step with a helpful UX copy. Under the review section, it prompts users to leave a review by saying: “Share your honest experience, and help others make better choices”. This is a good, thoughtful and emphatic UX copy example.
Humanizes the product
UX writing makes a product a brand by giving it its own personality. Remember Slack? Slack is popular because it stands out from its competitors by having its own brand and voice.
Other than what was explained previously, Slack is a very interactive tool for users with the help of the SlackBot. This is a chatbot or a live support agent that helps users navigate Slack’s interface easily.
Being casual and friendly, Slackbot adds personality to its product, making the whole UX experience highly interactive.
This is a brilliant idea for offering help and support as compared to a database of FAQ articles. It humanizes the product by offering an interactive way to support users with their questions and concerns. It is like asking a real person for assistance.
Drives engagement and increases sales
The right words can have a huge impact to drive more engagement and sales. A good example would be from Google 2017 conference where Maggie Stanphil, UX Director at Google, showed how changing two words has improved their user engagement.
Stanphil and her team found out that the prompt “book a room” when searching for hotel rooms in Google is “too committal” for user’s early stage of booking process. So, they changed that to “check availability”, where they saw a 17% increase in user engagement.
This example shows that the right combination of words can have a strong impact in the whole user experience that can increase engagement and sales in return.
Starting your UX writing process
Step 1: Empathize with the user and understand the context
Content and design always go hand-in-hand when analyzing user experience. It is important to start the process with these questions in mind:
What is the problem?
How did the user come to this problem?
What emotions are they experiencing?
How to resolve this problem?
It helps a lot to see things in the user perspective to be able to understand everything and provide the right solution to the problem.
Step 2: Define the problem and offer plausible solutions
UX writing is not a one man’s job. In order to really define the problem and define the scope properly, it requires help from other departments like the UX designers, programmers, project managers, and whoever is involved and is important in the whole user experience. There may be different perspectives from each of these departments but all these people should help the user get the job done in a faster, better way.
Step 3: Validate through research
Putting oneself in the user’s perspective is just one experience. This experience is not enough to make a validation. Thus, it is important to conduct a research and do several comparative analyses to gain more insights about the problem in order to make the proper solution.
Step 4: Gather ideas and words
Once there is a clear understanding of the user, problem, and solution it is now time to write the copy and list down all the requirements needed to make a copy. Try to list down all the great ideas as many as possible, then refine these ideas later. This is easier than overthinking what to use in terms of creating ONE clear, concise, and useful copy.
Step 5: Refine
Once all ideas are written, pick the best one and then refine. It is now time to think clear, concise, useful, and consistent. Also, it is important for the copy to be conversational using everyday language. Avoid jargons or flowery words that only make the copy hard to understand and long to read. The final UX copy should always be short, clear, and concise.
Step 6: Prototyping
Prototyping simple means replacing the loren ipsum with the UX copy on the site. It is a good idea to work closely with the UI designer when inserting the copy into the design to see ahead if the copy perfectly fits the design. If the copy is too long for the design, it is best to consult first the designer or project manager if it is possible to add more room for the copy instead of sacrificing the message.
Step 7: Usability testing
Usability testing is considered to be the core part of an effective user experience. Thus, this step is very crucial and the process may take longer depending on the number of tests required to achieve a high “level of product usability”, which, according to Nielsen Norman Group, is based on five aspects: learnability, satisfaction, efficiency, memorability, and errors. If these five factors are present, then the product is considered to be “highly usable”.
But why spend so much time and effort on a single aspect of UX when products and app solutions are more valuable to start with? Yes, of course, these features are valuable to users, BUT if a user cannot understand or figure out how to use them, then, the product becomes useless and unsalable, bringing in ZERO profit to the company.
The goal of usability testing is to learn how users understand and use the product. It involves tasks like gathering users’ insights, analyzing if the product has met the user’s expectations, checking if the user can perform the task as proposed, and gathering user’s experience and feedback, among many others. The whole process may take time to complete but conducting usability tests can save you further costs and development time in the end.
Step 8: Final touches and delivery
Once the copy is tested and everyone agrees that it is good to go, do a final recheck of the grammar, sentences, and any other text errors you can find before the final delivery.
The demand for UX writers only tells us one thing: that companies all around the world are aware of the importance of a great UX copy. Many of these companies now realize that “every word counts”. That the right words should be teamed up with the right wireframing and prototyping process. The entire design system can only work well for a user if all the members of the team- managers, web designers, developers, copywriters, SEOs, etc. work side by side to bring better UX content and design.
The 8-step UX writing process is a simple process that you may follow, especially for startups and SMBs. But for business enterprises, it may involve additional and wider range of processes to create a successful UX copy.
Remember, your UX copy’s effectiveness depends on how you conduct your usability tests. There is no right or wrong turn when it comes to usability testing. ALL usability test results are important, even the failed ones, as these data help improve the product and help you better understand your users’ perspective.
You can conduct your own usability test using the right methods and audience here. Also, you can check out several case studies here to further your knowledge on usability testing methods and experiences.