What does UX copywriting mean?

It’s writing to create user-friendly experiences. A user-friendly experience should be easy, efficient and make the user feel like they’re understood. – empathy is a big element of UX.

Whenever a UX writers go over their drafts, they ask themselves the following questions to make sure they’ve got it right (it’s our “editing process”):

  • Is the goal specific?
  • Is the message clear?
  • Is the language simple enough?
  • Is it inclusive?
  • Is it accessible?

The core principles

Purpose: This is about having a very clear goal for each piece of copy you write. For a UX writer, instead of a single big brief that covers a project, it’s more like getting (or setting yourself) hundreds of tiny briefs with very specific things defined (the goal, the placement, the number of characters, the timing in user-journey and any limitations to keep in mind)

Clarity: Do people understand what you’ve written? Are you being a bit too clever or funny?

Simplicity: Are you using simple terms people recognise? Are you simplifying user’s options?

Inclusivity: Are you talking to your audience? All of it? Gender-issues and localisation come into play more and more.

Accessibility: Can everyone use your product? (What does it sound like with a reader? Does the order of information still make sense? And if it needs to be localised, does it work in other languages?

How it overlaps with copywriting

When people think of copywriters, they often link them to marketing and the art persuasion. A UX writer will work on the copy that happens after a user has been converted, or at least from the moment they’ve decided to buy (or join, or pay)

To create a unified voice for a business’s brand, it means there might be major overlaps between the marketing, copy and UX worlds. Many writers have to wear all the hats. Or at least learn to run between marketing and technical meetings.

Which bits do you write!

• Style guides (voice and personas)
• Information architecture (user journeys, story mapping)
• All the microcopy. Especially titles, descriptions, labels, text input fields, controls, buttons, links, commands, transitions, error messages, notifications, confirmations and empty states. (I can take a few seconds for each to give an example of what it is).
• Some of the customer support materials. This can include onboarding sequences (email included), help centres, chatbots, emails, etc.

Free UX Writing resources

Other UX courses:

UX Writers Collective

UX Writing Hub

Laura Luck’s free five-day course: In terms of how to “sell” UX writing as a service, she does a great job on her site.


Time stamps:

An introduction to UX Copywriting with Marie-Pier Rochon

1:33 – Intro and how Marie-Pier became a UX Copywriter

4:20 – The definition of UX Copy

MP explained UX copywriting is using simple words to explain complex problems and making tools (e.g. apps and websites) easy to use. UX copy makes the user feel understood and guided through the process of what they need to do next.

5:30 – The 6 core elements of UX copy

5:50 – 1. Purpose

Every piece of copy must have a goal/purpose.

6:20 – 2. Clarity

Use clear, simple language. MP recommended using the Hemingway app to assess the readability of copy (she aims for level 5-6).

8:01 – 3. Simplicity

Copy should be simple and concise. Edit – a lot. People scan a lot, particularly when reading on a mobile, so it’s important to use less words, short lines, more white space and break things down into as many steps as necessary.

When giving step-by-step instructions, be exceptionally clear. You may feel as though you’re dumbing the content down, but that’s not the case.

9:44 – 4. Be human.

Use common words, it’s not the place to try to show off your vocabulary.

People’s expectations are set by their experiences on other websites and apps. They have expectations of what navigation terms mean, so that’s not the place to inject tone or be clever.

10:44 – 5. Be inclusive

This could involve using the word they instead of he/she, or thinking about the location of your user and not using language/terminology that is only understood by people from a certain country or location.

11:39 – 6. Accessibility

Make proper use of image alt tags and captions.

Don’t use emojis in web copy – you can’t be certain of their alt tags and how they will be read by a screen reader.

13:31 – #Question: What readability grade do you recommend? Kate aims for 7, MP suggests 5-6 for UX.

15:29 – What’s the link between UX and Copywriting

Good copywriting must show an understanding of the end user, by putting yourself in the customers shoes.

Most copywriters are delivering UX in one way or another, e.g. button text, 404 page copy, error messages etc.

21:15 – Voice commands and UX copy – eg Alexa and Siri

21:55 – #Question: Can you use SEO keywords in image alt tags

Alt tags can be user-friendly and include keywords as well. Use your keywords as part of a sentence to describe the image. Don’t just make it sound like a dump of keywords as this doesn’t provide a great experience when read by a screen reader.

Great quote from MP – “The magic of SEO will happen if you think of the reader first and then the Google bots.”

24:50 – MP discusses what types of copy a UX Copywriter is responsible for

26:40 – UX Microcopy

28:15 – How to niche/position yourself as a UX copywriter

34:11 – MP recommendations of UX courses, communities, and resources

35:23Kate and MP – Links to UX resources

37:40 – #Question Do you work mainly in-house or remotely? And how do you interview the users – in person, video, phone?

37:58 – #Question – what are your UX tips for viewing sites on mobile devices?

39:15 – Mobile UX writing

Don’t try to be cute with your CTAs and buttons. Keep the text short and sweet.

39:58 – TOV

Part of UX copywriting is knowing where to inject tone and where to be serious. Your job as a UX copywriter is to “reduce the friction” the client is feeling. Someone who has made a large purchase and something has gone wrong doesn’t want a cute copy in their error message or to be left hanging, not knowing what to do next.

Convey a friendly tone but be serious and show empathy.

41:30 – Tools

Heatmapping and eye-tracking software can be used to identify points of difficulty, hesitation or xx on a website.

MP and Kate recommend Hot Jar. Kate recommends Google Optimise which has useful IA and UX functions.

46:55 – End.


Categories: Copywriting, Hub, Marketing

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