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It is mind-blowing to know that a UX writer worth his salt earns nothing less than $2,300 per week and there is an ever-increasing demand for writers in this niche.
In this regard, the question in the head of most young freelance writers who have picked up interest in UX writing is this: What does a UX writer do? And how can I become one?
The work of a UX writer is not a vague or abstract one. It is something we see and use every day as UX writers play a huge role in building remarkable user experience.
This article, detailed but brief, addresses every question you may have about UX writing. It also guides and teaches you to build a formidable career in this niche.
Are you ready to know everything about UX writing? Let’s begin.
What is User Experience (UX)?
To lay a proper foundation for this discourse, it is apposite to understand what “UX” itself means. So here’s the first obvious question: What is (UX)?
According to Wikipedia, UX is a vital aspect of human-computer interaction that shapes a person’s emotion towards a digital product or service. It includes an individual’s perception of system aspects such as ease of use, efficiency, and utility.
Digital products simply refer to websites, mobile apps, car interfaces, digital games, and lots more.
In broader parlance, UX is beyond what you feel about mobile apps and websites; it permeates our day-to-day life. How do you feel when your food is too tasty or you’re reading on a blog with illegible fonts? That is also User Experience.
Building a product with incredible user experience involves the interoperability of three broad fields; Design, Engineering, and Content. Each field is vital and indispensable.
Designers work on the wireframing, prototyping, design, and workflow. Writers curate the copy and content on the interface, and engineers implement these in codes. Interesting, right?
Now that we understand what UX means, let’s get into what UX writers do.
What Does a UX Writer Do?
We know UX writers by different names: Content Designers, Digital Copywriters, or Product Writers. They play their part in making digital products interact naturally with their users.
As more apps, software, and websites spring up each day from various innovations, interacting with these products may become difficult and unclear. This makes some people uninstall or refuse to download innovative software. Hence, proper guidance and onboarding are critical to carry users along with new products.
Just like manuals used to come with physical products; microcopy serves the role of manuals in digital products. Interesting, right?
UX writers curate intuitive and relevant interface texts—otherwise called microcopy—for digital products to help users navigate and achieve their aim of using it.
Texts in this regard mean the microcopy on the welcoming message, error messages, prompt responses, buttons, menu, and so on. Therefore, whenever you open your mobile apps and see texts guiding you on the functionality, that is the work of a UX writer.
What is the ultimate goal of UX writing, you may be thinking? UX writing provides clear instructional content to guide users—of digital products and applications—to fluidly carry out tasks without getting lost or seeking the need for support.
In simpler terms, UX writers make Graphic User Interfaces (UI) easy to use. And in summary, this is what a typical UX writer does:
- Create product voice
- Draft content plan and style
- Write UX copy
- Write UI content
- Write product copy
- Write troubleshooting articles
Some samples of copy written by UX writers include
- Error messages
- Onboarding texts
- Form UI
- Legal notices
- Instructional texts
How You Can Become a UX Writer
So far, we have discussed the meaning of UX and what UX writers do. Now the next question, who is eligible to become a UX writer?
Some freelance writers have a reservation for this niche because of the technicality it entails. Interestingly, UX writing can be done by writers from diverse backgrounds; physics, law, architect, etc.
Basically, anyone can become a UX writer! Your professional background isn’t a limitation. All you need is your ingenuity, hunger to learn, and love for writing and explaining confusing subjects in simple, creative ways.
Now, you know you can become a UX writer, here are four steps you should take to begin:
1. UI/UX Courses
A first step in becoming a UX writer is taking UI/UX courses! Sound knowledge of interface design is important so you will know where to come in as a writer, and how best to craft your content.
It’s good to keep in mind that UX writers are not just content creators, they work with front-end developers, product managers, and designers to make products become what they are.
You can try a whole lot of courses, both paid and unpaid. The one I will recommend is User Experience Design by Udacity or Foundation of User Experience Writing by UX Writing Hub. They are some of the best online courses on UX available.
2. User-centric Mindset
For whatever digital product you have, putting yourself in your customers’ shoes is an excellent step to create an excellent problem-solving product. You need good understanding of your users and should often carry out user research to get their updated perspectives or needs.
Products are not about you, the creator, but the users. Therefore, you should pay attention to feedback and welcome ideas to drive your innovative tendencies. Majorly, you should concern yourself with how to improve the functionality of a product and always think of how things can be better and improve.
The user-centric mindset is what makes a badass UX writer.
3. Join a—Preferably UX—Writing Community
Just like wetting flowers, skills, and talents are supposed to be groomed so they can blossom, every writer would agree that being in a writing community keeps you updated and makes your skill polished and formidable.
If you want to become a UX writer, you should join a UX Writing Community. There you can gain more exposure, learn from others, and even get more professional opportunities.
Well, you may not necessarily need to join UX Writing Community specifically, wider writing communities—like Week of Saturdays— are a good option. If you plan to kickstart a full-time freelance UX Writing career, you might find this guide helpful.
4. Have a Portfolio
Kick-starting a job hunt has not started without you first crafting a killer CV. However, UX writers don’t typically use CVs. They present their writing portfolios and show expertise in the relevant field they are applying to.
A UX writer’s portfolio is kind of similar to UX Designers’. That is why we identified taking UX courses first when you’re aspiring to a User Experience writing role.
In your portfolio, think of an app or software that is not easy to navigate, then fix it with microcopies. If the form page is too time-consuming, you can fix it with “continue with Google.”
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do UX writers have anything to do with UI?
Yes, they do. UX writers craft microcopies that appear on the user interface (UI). They work on the UI content, so users can have a nice user experience (UX).
2. Must I have a UX Design background as an aspiring UX writer?
Not necessarily. What you need is basically a good knowledge of UX Writing. However, UX Design is helpful for holistic understanding and building of portfolios.
3. Are UX writers copywriters?
No, they are not. The goals are quite different. While copywriters write to persuade readers to take any action, UX writers write to make the user’s interaction with the product seamless, fluid, and intuitive.
4. When is the best time for me to become a UX writer?
The best time to become a UX writer—if you have an interest—is NOW. The niche is booming, and brands need thousands of UX writers. According to the just published Week of Saturdays 2020 Freelance-Writing Landscape report, technical writers (which includes UX writers earn 13.80% more than non-technical writers.
UX writing is the bridge that fosters interaction between the users’ needs and habits, and the company’s goal. It is as important as the brand or product itself.
The field of UX writing is thinly populated and there is more demand for writers. There’s hardly been a better time than the present for freelance writers to develop expertise in this niche.
Now back to the question: What does a UX writer do? And how do I become one? We hope this piece has qualitatively addressed your questions. Have a comment or suggestion relating to UX writing? Drop a comment below.
Feature image via Pexels.