What is UX Writing and Why is it Important?

happy woman looking at mobile phone and laptop screen

The end goal of UX writing: happy users.

“Ease of use may be invisible, but its absence sure isn’t.” – IBM

Have you seen this term and are not sure what it means? It is shorthand for “User eXperience,” and is the art of writing the text, or copy, that appears throughout the interface of digital products, such as websites and mobile apps. Chances are that we’ve all benefitted from well-written UX and become frustrated by, well, NOT so well-written UX.

Excellent UX copy doesn’t just happen; it takes knowledge and skill to create simple user-friendly text. Some of us remember those old software user guides where the language seemed foreign to us, or that had so much extra information that finding what we needed was nearly impossible.

Today’s UX writers follow seven principles to keep them grounded, remembering that such writing is not the place to show off fancy language but to create information that is helpful to readers.

1. Clarity 

People do not tend to read user information because they’re bored, though I’m sure there are exceptions. Instead, they want to learn how to use an app, find information on a website, etc. Don’t waste their time with big words. Tell them what they need to know in the simplest yet informative way possible. UX writers need to constantly ask themselves:

  • Will the user understand this?
  • Does my copy accurately represent the information?
  • Is the wording exact, not vague?

Writers should also avoid jargon that the general public will not understand. It’s important to know your audience, though. If you are writing website copy for doctors who treat cancer, for example, using industry-standard language is preferred. If you are writing website copy for cancer patients, however, you need to speak in plainer (but sensitive) terms because they probably do not yet know much of the terminology.

2. Be concise

UX writers are often constrained by small spaces in which they need to fit pertinent information, especially on mobile apps. Writing precisely doesn’t necessarily mean writing short sentences, though that helps; every word is there for a reason, and extra words are removed.

  • For example, change “I travel in order to learn more about the world,” to “I travel to learn more about the world,” or even, “I travel to understand the world.”
  • The word “that” is often overused in writing and is usually not necessary. For example, change “We decided that we were going to the movies,” to “We decided we were going to the movies.”

3. Usefulness

Guide your readers where you want them to go, and give them a clear call to action (CTA). Don’t leave them on their own, trying to decide where to go next. While true of most writing, it’s especially important to use the active voice as much as possible so the reader both has a sense of urgency and understands exactly what to do next. Also, ensure the information is relevant to the reader’s needs.

4. Ensure tone and voice are consistent with your brand

Tone and voice are NOT the same. Simply stated:

  • Tone refers to how your brand communicates with its audience, including word choice, communication style, and emotion.
  • Voice represents your brand’s unique perspective and values, its overall personality.

Once you understand your brand’s tone and voice, keep them consistent throughout your writing. Some brands may be very serious, while others might choose a more humorous take on their business. It’s easy to allow our daily moods to affect our writing, but consistent messaging in UX writing is crucial.

5. Apply empathy

In other words, put yourself in the reader’s shoes:

  • What do they want?
  • How can I improve their experience?
  • Am I clear enough?

We sometimes get trapped in our own bubbles, forgetting that we are not writing for ourselves but to teach others how to use a product. Know your audience and write accordingly.

6. Accessibility

Chances are, there are more people with disabilities than you think who need the information you’re writing: hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people experience some form of disability, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech difficulties, and photosensitivity. These all affect how a person uses digital content. While this isn’t an article about accessibility, much of what we’ve already discussed helps. Aside from standard alt-text, remember to explain any acronyms, abbreviations, and complex terms. Headers and bulleted lists are a great way to keep text organized for any reader. Remember to create a hierarchy of information so your most important points stand out. These tips will improve your writing overall.

7. UX writing should work seamlessly with User Interface (UI)

Writers, designers, and engineers should work together from the beginning of the process. Decide together how all aspects combine to meet the user’s needs. Avoid using “lorem ipsum’ text as a placeholder during the design process, as it doesn’t tell the designer anything and gives them no direction, leading to unnecessary revisions.

The big takeaway is remembering that you are writing for the end user who needs to understand how to access the information you are giving them. If you use clear and concise language, remember the needs of the user, and don’t try to show off all the big words you know, you’re well on your way to user-friendly copy.

Are your apps technically great but need help in the UX writing department? Ask us how we can create user-friendly, effective, and informative content for you!


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WHO World Report on Disability https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241564182

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