In times of buzzwords colonizing the market and driving people to rethink their careers, I usually find it useful first of all to clear the air by stating precisely what we’re talking about — and, just as important, what it is that we are not talking about.
The Google Trends chart below shows the growing interest in the term “UX Writing” in recent years — an interest motivated by content professionals who see a new way of contributing more directly to digital product creation.
But this interest is followed by a great deal of uncertainty.
In a market where new names come up all the time and where boundaries between areas and competencies change from company to company, content professionals themselves use fluid classifications to define their own work.
UX Writing is not Content Strategy
The first thing UX Writing is not is Content Strategy.
Content Strategy has a global scope within the company. Among other things, it:
- Maps all company channels, audiences and messages;
- Creates standard resources (Content Style Guide, Voice and Tone Guide, Glossary);
- Ensures that all content manifestations delivered by the company are aligned with the overall strategy.
The UX Writer is responsible for only one of these content manifestations, delivered to the user through the product interface.
As such, they must follow these standards that are set by the content strategy, just like any other content professional in the company should.
UX Writing is not Copywriting
The definition of copywriting can be quite broad, but in the context of companies that develop digital products, when we talk about copywriting we are usually referring to sales-oriented content.
Its goal is to draw customers. And for that it needs to tell stories, use seductive phrases, be sexy.
UX Writing, on the other hand, has no commitment to lead attraction.
Through it, the product communicates with customers who are already part of the base. The goal is no longer to attract but to improve usability. Sexy words usually don’t have much to contribute to that goal.
UX Writing is not Marketing Copy
I see marketers getting interested in UX Writing — and I think that’s great.
But it’s important to make one thing clear: Marketing and UX Writing are in quite different battles — and even different battlefields. They should be integrated, of course, but their goals and methods are very distinct.
A UX Writer should be part of the product team.
Just as the developer is responsible for the code and the designer for the experience, the UX Writer must be accountable for the content that the product interface is delivering.
Once again, she doesn’t want to draw new users. Her goal is to improve the current user experience.
So what is UX Writing then?
I like the following definition:
UX Writing is the act of writing copy for product interfaces with the goal of improving user experience.
It makes it clear that we are talking about product and user experience. Which means:
- It’s not just any copy. It is copy that appears in the interface of a product;
- It’s not for any purpose. It aims to improve user experience.