The power of words in the User Experience (UX)

UX writing has become an essential tool for the success of any brand. (Rawpixel pic)

UX writing is the art of crafting the texts and spoken language oriented to guide, delight and retain the users of a digital product and, ultimately, of scaling the business as it allows for the conversion of new customers.

This new area of expertise has become an essential pillar for the success of any brand.

The concept defines the use of text and the spoken word in user interfaces (UI), with three specific objectives:

  • Help users advance in the use of the product to solve a need.
  • Improve the user experience.
  • Strengthen a brand’s positioning, tone and voice.

How did UX writing break out as a new discipline? What does it consist of, and what are the strategies it relies on to achieve such objectives?

A new content-writing area empowers words

UX writing as a process has always existed, but for many years it was done in the final stage of designing a digital product.

However, in the last decade, some pioneers such as YouTube and Xbox discovered that communication with their users was inconsistent as the tone and voice varied greatly between mobile devices and web platforms.

The figure of the UX writer emerged with this mission: to analyse the product’s voice in a transversal way, to give it the same tone and style of communication in all its UIs.

Over time, it became clear that UX writing is also a pivotal piece to attract, retain, convert customers and promote the usability of a digital product.

The global user experience: UI + UX

When an application is used or browsing a website, people seek to solve a need or problem in the most straightforward and user-friendly way as possible.

If addressing a need goes hand in hand with a pleasant experience, people are very likely to come back and recommend the app or website to others.

A good user interface design will favour fast, intuitive and smooth navigation. (Rawpixel pic)

The elaborate process in which a digital product (what), a need (for what) and usability (how) intertwine, is called user experience (UX). There are several factors involved in UX:

  • The user interface defines those sensory channels and controls that allow interaction between a user and a machine. An excellent UI will favour a fast, intuitive and smooth navigation.
  • The user interface design (UI design) aims to develop a relevant digital product (that solves a need) that is usable (easy to use) and pleasant (that adds value and conquers the esteem of the user).

Yet, a feature overlooked or neglected for quite a long time was the conversational aspect between user and product. In short, the words that help users progress along the entire flow to complete a task or solve a problem.

UX writing is precisely the area focused on the words that live in the user interfaces. It promotes the usability of a digital product intending to meet the goals of our customers and the business.

The starry comeback of words

In December last year an expert and pioneer in UX writing, Torrey Podmajersky, gave a lecture in New Zealand, which was the occasion to go over the strategic elements of UX writing.

The texts used in a user interface are called microcopies because they are short and serve as clues to lead the user across the flow of a product. A microcopy must meet two requirements to be functional:

  • It must promote usability.
  • It must stay true to the brand’s voice.

Usability

Users’ permanence and progress will depend on the microcopies to guide them, being:

  • Understandable: for users of any geography and language, and easily readable.
  • Concise: each word must have an objective and promote action.
  • Conversational: interact with users, just like in a conversation, using the vocabulary of the audience.
  • Clear: the order of instructions must follow an easily understandable logic. For example, tutorials on using the application must be visible. An error message should redirect the user and appeal to humour to minimise frustration.

Staying true to the voice of the brand

Addressing users with the distinctive sound of the brand is essential for a meaningful experience.

The way users are named, the vocabulary, grammar, punctuation details and the use of capital letters must be articulated with the brand concept that is to be strengthened.

For example, Netflix personalised the user experience by 100%. The profile image with freckles feeds the algorithm to give movie options.

And Amnesty International’s Home page gives particular relevance to the use of Cookies, very much in line with its defence of human rights, such as privacy.

The demand for UX writers is growing, and Workana offers a platform for freelancers to gain knowledge, experience and jobs in the field.

Click here to find out more about Workana to start hiring or enlisting as a freelancer.