UX writing is the art of creating the text that lives inside of digital interfaces and products.
When we use digital products and read through the screens, communication becomes crucial. Regardless of what the product is, a UX expert designs a conversation between the product and end-users. And the tricky part about it is to make the communication engaging – UX writing supports this by adding intuitivity to the interaction with precise interface messages.
So, shortly speaking, UX writing is the art of crafting the text that lives inside of digital interfaces and products.
When reading through the screens, we can literally “hear” the words on the UI. It’s as if the product was speaking to us and had a clearly defined voice and one. Words give character to your product. On one hand, it can be official and strict, or fun and motivating on the other. In this article, we will explain why the choice of words in your products is so crucial.
What UX Writing is NOT?
Before we jump into explaining what UX writing is, let’s focus on what it’s not. UX writing is not copywriting. It’s not fine-tuning the existing text that’s already been written by a designer. And it certainly isn’t proofreading someone else’s words. So what is it?
Design is all about communication. Every designer wants their product to have this special bond between its users – and UX writing supports it, by creating a conversation between the product and the end-user with words on the UI.
UX writing is every single word in your product. It's the irreplaceable skill of designing the product’s character by means of words. These are all the labels, CTA buttons, menu items (microcopy), as well as error messages, info tips (macrocopy).
One may think that adding just a few words here or there on the UI is not a big deal. Nothing could be more wrong. Sometimes, it takes much more time to create a powerful CTA than to write an entire paragraph. Why? Because there is a business goal behind that CTA button and it’s called conversion.
The market is already filled with plenty, PLENTY of digital products. “Plenty” in 2020 meant almost 9 million mobile apps, and we’re already in 2021 (yes, 2020 it’s time to go).
Now, all these products (or rather, the people behind them) have an urgent need to get noticed. To succeed in that, great UX goes without saying. Back in the day, it was the designer that usually had to do the writing, but that has also changed. UX writing is a completely independent field of UX. It's also no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a must-have, because of what it brings to the table, or rather, your product and the business.
Today, UX writers are an integral part of the UX team at successful companies. To back that claim, the team of writers at Booking grew from 20 to 60 back in 2018.
Why You Should Invest in UX Writing?
Words matter, a lot. They take up a significant amount of your design. Text can make or break the UX of your product. Keep that in mind. Even the best, top-notch design can be ruined with poor words. Still, we can see some companies, especially smaller ones, that tend to neglect the “test-side” of the design. According to studies, concise, scannable text can improve the product’s usability by 124%.
UX Writing Adds Clarity
How many times have you left an online shopping cart just because the messaging on the screen wasn’t clear enough? Maybe it didn't give you a sense of security? Either way, this is what poor ux writing leads to.
Other things that bad (or simply neglected) writing can result it are:
- Confusing messages;
- Jargon, jargon, and more jargon;
- Insufficient information about the product.
Just to name a few… Conclusion? UX writing can have a massive impact on your conversion and revenue.
Take the two most critical parameters when making a purchase decision: the arrival time and delivery fee. Without both, users are unlikely to proceed to checkout. Take a look at the example below:
Sometimes people will also stop using a certain product out of data privacy or security concerns, such as:
- Too many requests about their personal info.
- Credit card details just to start a free trial.
- Unspecified details that they see no point in giving away.
So, instead of taking for granted that your users will give away everything that you ask them for, it’s better to explain why you need that specific piece of info about them with microcopy.
Just look at how one sentence can change it all:
Or, usually people don’t want to start a free trial because they assume, they will be charged right after it ends. So why not assure them they won't?
Always remember why you’re writing for your users – after all, empathy is at the core of anything we do. The art of apologizing and saying you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong is crucial. Also, using the right words can make all the difference between a positive and a mundane experience. However, there is a thin line between being empathetic and ...pathetic. Using empathy in the wrong way can result in customers drifting away from your product. Just take a look at the example below, where empathy and humor have both gone completely wrong.
While a 404 page is the worst thing that a user can experience when browsing a page, there is a way to do it right. Carefully selected words can save the situation. Look at how Pixar turns it into a funny experience. This is how UX writing works.
Let Your Product Speak
What else is there to add? Words can make a tremendous difference in the way your product is perceived. Not only does it improve the overall experience, but it can also increase conversion. Main takeaway? Never, ever underestimate the power of words. There are studies that back it up.