A UX writers role in website design

How can a UX (user experience) writer can help you grow your business? And how can copy influence people to take an action on your website?

Paul Carolan

UX Copywriter

How a UX (user experience) writer can help you grow your business

How a UX writer can help with the customer experience of your website or application?.

We all know that giving your customers a well-designed, user-friendly website is critical these days.

But how much thought have you given to how your users interact with the words on the screen? That’s where a UX writer can help.

Getting a UX writer to enhance your content is one of the best things you can do for your website or app - especially if it relies on forms, dashboards or other little interactions that can make or break the user journey.

What exactly does a UX writer do?

A UX writer improves the user experience of a website or app by making sure the content is easy to understand.

Whereas a UX designer (or interaction designer) is primarily focused on how users interact with visual elements, a UX writer focuses on the words.

UX writers are often focused on ‘micro copy’ - things like form buttons, error messages and navigation menus. Getting these things right can make a huge difference to the user experience.

But UX writers sometimes also create longer content, such as whole webpages or blog posts, using the same principles. It’s all about making the experience simpler and easier for users.

Core principles of UX writing

Less is more

A good UX writer will constantly ask themselves: “can I say the same thing in fewer words?”

People tend to skim-read - in other words, their eyes loosely scan the page for the most relevant information. So the fewer words you use to get your point across, the easier it is for users to complete their task.

Avoid jargon

UX writers are obsessed with getting rid of technical terms and replacing them with user-friendly content that everyone can understand.

This means more people can benefit from your content. It’s especially helpful for people who are unfamiliar with the topic. In a business sense, that means more potential customers.

Testing with users

UX writers are experts with a good understanding of how users interact with content. But testing your content with users can help you to identify things you might have missed.

There are various ways to test your content. For example, you might test a prototype of your app or webpage with users before releasing it to the public. Or you can test live content by A/B testing different versions and seeing which gets the best results.

Accessibility

A good UX writer will always be thinking about accessibility - that is, designing content for people with disabilities such as hearing or visual impairments.

This is more important than you think - it includes designing for common disabilities like dyslexia and dyscalculia (difficulty with interpreting numbers).

It also involves creating effective ‘alt tags’ so that visually impaired people get effective descriptions of images on your website.

UX writing vs content design

You may have also heard of ‘content design’, which is closely related to UX writing.

Content design originated in UK government, and it’s why the GOV.UK website is so simple to use. But lots of businesses now hire content designers, especially those with a large information requirement (e.g. financial companies, energy providers and housing associations).

The basic principle of content design is very similar to UX writing. According to Sarah Winters, the creator of content design:

It's about using data and evidence to give the audience what they need, at the time they need it and in a way they expect.

In other words, content designers work alongside user researchers to identify what users actually need to know. Then they create content that meets those needs, testing with users along the way.

You could say that UX writing is one ‘branch’ of content design, because it involves the same principles, but usually focuses on user interfaces rather than longer content.

This article was written by the copy team at Higher Ground UX Agency Manchester.

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