UX writing is a highly technical and competitive field.
To become a UX writer, you need more than just writing skills. You also need knowledge of the UX design process, current market trends, and UX writing rules.
A UX writing course can help you gain the skills you need, but that comes later.
First, you need more background info on the UX writer’s job and UX writing in general.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
I wrote this article to discuss UX writing, give examples, and explain how you can be part of a successful UX writing team.
Table of Contents
The “UX” ins UX writing means user experience.
User experience writers (more commonly known as UX writers) plan and create copy that enables users to easily navigate apps, websites, and other digital products.
UX writers create elements that improve the user’s experience, hence the name user-experience writer.
You need an easy-to-understand guide whenever you use a mobile app, website, onboarding tool, or videogame.
Many UX writers follow this process:
- Conduct extensive market and user research.
- Collaborate with a UX designer.
- Create multiple iterations until they develop the ultimate UX copy and design.
Note that UX writers are different from technical writers and copywriters.
UX writing is an entirely separate discipline with distinct goals and purposes.
Meanwhile, UX writers use specific, easy-to-understand words that prompt users to take particular actions.
You can see good UX writing in tooltips, onboarding flow charts, and in-app text.
The difference between UX writers and copywriters is that UX writing focuses on the features within the digital product itself.
On the other hand, copywriters write blogs, website copy, and marketing emails about the product or service.
A copywriter’s job is to promote a digital product or service through compelling copy, while a UX writer’s job t the same time, a UX writer’s jobs are to conduct UX research and improve the user interface and experience.
You might think UX writing is all about microcopy, such as button text, error messages, and menus, or the sweet and short phrases that motivate users to take a specific action.
However, UX writing involves much more complex or difficult tasks.
UX writers must deliver a clear and concise message on all fronts, including product pages, emails, notifications, and buttons, to create an easy-to-navigate UX design.
UX writers also conduct user-focused research to better understand their preferences and become effective at their job.
Moreover, UX writers must create a compelling and practical manual for apps and websites to improve user experience.
Another equally important but lesser-known responsibility of UX writers is creating a copy style guide that reflects a brand’s voice and personality.
Copywriters, website developers, and graphic artists can create unified branding elements with a style guide.
Meanwhile, good UX writing always goes hand in hand with good UX design.
UX writing is undoubtedly integral to the design process.
A talented UX writer is critical to improving the overall user experience, allowing users to navigate and interact quickly with a digital product or service.
UX writers focus on helping users complete specific tasks online, including making hotel reservations, booking flights, and buying concert tickets.
UX writers play a critical role in the success of Google, Airbnb, Spotify, Slack, and other tech brands. Some companies even have one dedicated UX writer for every UX design team of five to six UX designers.
These are some of the most common UX writing examples you can find online:
- The text you see on the “Log in” or “Sign up” buttons
- The welcome message when subscribing to a service or opening a mobile app
- The labels on a website’s menu
- The “error” messages that pop up when something goes wrong, like a broken link or incorrect username or password
- Step-by-step instructions when booking flights or buying an item from an online shop
There’s a good UX writer and a mediocre UX writer.
Here are examples of good UX writing to help you differentiate it from mediocre UX writing.
- The copy uses universal symbols complemented by clear and easy-to-understand words.
- The copy prompts users to take clear actions.
- It uses clear text to enhance the user interface, providing guidance and suggestions.
- UX writing and design that comes with a human touch (ex., AI helplines).
- The copy offers a clear data visualization. (ex., “Around 95% of our subscribers have secured their dream job.”)
- The text reflects the brand’s personality and voice.
- Humor humanizes your text. For instance, instead of writing a standard response like “sorry, broken link,” a UX writer can use words like, “Oops, the page you’re looking for went on a short break!”
- UX writing uses specific words to motivate users (ex., “Receive a 20% discount when you subscribe.”)
- The content follows the “less is more” approach and uses fewer, shorter, and more compelling words.
- The copy has a customized menu with relevant options, resulting in a high-quality user interface.
Follow these steps if you want to become a UX writer and want companies to consider you for UX writing positions.
It’s not just about knowing proper grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation usage. A good UX writer uses precise and easy-to-understand language.
Familiarity with UX design can help UX writers become more effective because it combines design, symbols, and words into one powerful communication tool.
UX writers work as UX researchers as well. They must know market trends and the entire user experience (user journey).
One way to build up your portfolio is to create mock websites or apps. Start with website builders like Weebly, Wix, or Adobe Portfolio.
If you haven’t taken a UX writing course but plan to beef up your resume, start with more common writing-related jobs like copywriting, blog writing, or technical writing.
Taking a UX writing course is best because it can help you understand UX concepts and hone specific writing skills.
UX writers have varied professional backgrounds.
A good portion of them have writing-related experience and education, but some have an engineering or science background.
UX writing is a relatively new discipline that has emerged from the ever-evolving digital media. You’ll see people from different backgrounds taking advantage of the growing demand for UX writers.
Despite the varied professional backgrounds, UX writers share common qualities and skills.
Good design is more than just aesthetics. It’s also about functionality and ease of navigation.
A UX writer typically collaborates with UX designers, app developers, product managers, and other stakeholders.
UX writing is a relatively new discipline, so aspiring UX writers and existing practitioners must continually read UX writing resources and familiarize themselves with the design process.
Constant learning allows them to learn more about UX writing fundamentals and design trends.
You can’t learn if you don’t try to understand the ideas and concepts that differ from yours. UX writing is about combining excellent user experience and your company’s goals.
Being open to other people’s ideas and suggestions can allow a UX writer to work smoothly with other members of the UX design team.
For UX writers, providing a user-friendly experience is critical. They apply the following design principles to all digital products.
UX writing is about using and combining words in the most straightforward way possible. Fluff or filler sentences, jargon, and cryptic messages have no place in this discipline.
Most online users don’t read apps and websites thoroughly.
According to a Nielsen report, 79% of test users only quickly scanned a web page. Only 16% read the content word-by-word.
Good UX writers must ensure their content is scannable and easy to digest.
UX writing is about providing real value to the user. Every word and call-to-action button should have a specific purpose.
UX writers and designers ensure that CTAs are easy to spot and read.
Have you experienced adding items to your shopping cart only to abandon it because you were confused or concerned with something (like hidden fees)? Most likely, the site failed to add empathy and sensitivity “elements” to its UX writing.
Online shops that include content phrases like, “We protect your data,” “We don’t share client’s information, or “We won’t charge you yet.” tend to have a lower cart abandonment rate.
A highly effective UX writing also ensures consistency with a brand’s voice and personality.
For instance, if a brand exudes energy and fun, an error message that says, “Oops. No worries! You can try it again” sounds better than a warning that says, “You did something wrong. Fill out the form again and ensure no mistake is made.”
According to a popular UX writing hub, the average salary of UX writers in the US is $62.10 per hour or $121,092 annually.
Entry-level positions start lower at around $89,190 annually.
Senior UX writers can fetch get as high as $156,850 annually.
Tech companies are creating more and more mobile apps and websites, so the demand for dedicated UX writers will grow.
Whether you’re a technical writer or a professional with no writing background who wants to become a dedicated UX writer, here’s a list of UX writing resources to check.
- A UX writing job board
- UX writing communities and groups on Facebook and other social networks
- Online microcopy courses (Coursera, Google UX Design, UX Writing Academy with UX Writing Hub, Masterclass, etc.)
It’s ideal to start with a general UX design course to understand the principle of UX writing.
Then, you can proceed to the actual microcopy and UX writing courses, which you can easily find online.
Surprisingly, recruiters and employers don’t hire UX writers solely based on experience. They believe creative problem-solving skills are far more essential.
When building a UX writer’s portfolio, make sure that you highlight your problem-solving skills.
How do you do this?
Screenshot your favorite apps and develop solutions to improve user experience.
If you can’t find enough digital products needing improvement, consider joining user experience writing courses and challenges. Doing so will allow you to build a solid portfolio.
If you’re serious about becoming a bona fide UX writer, you can use platforms such as Squarespace and Elementor to create a portfolio with little to no coding knowledge.
I hope my article has helped you understand the basics of being a UX writer.
You’re now familiar with the fundamentals, so it’s time to take it to the next level.
Start your UX writing career by taking a beginner’s course.