What is a UX writer and how do you become one? Use our step-by-step guide to find out everything you need to know user experience writing and how to become a UX writer in 4 steps.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
UX writing is the process of creating a user-friendly microcopy that guides users through a digital product, such as a website or mobile app. UX copy enables users to understand how to use a software interface from onboarding to accomplishing specific tasks. The ultimate goal of UX writing is to eliminate friction and enable users to complete tasks autonomously without seeking technical support. This strategy involves displaying information in a logical sequence using easy-to-understand language that is tailored to a specific user persona. UX copy is unambiguous: it tells users what to do next, or presents a menu of options to choose from that are tailored to the user’s specific needs.
Microcopy for the user interface includes landing page text, buttons, error messages, menu labels, security notes, terms, and conditions, as well as instructions on product usage. Unlike marketing copy, which is designed to convert leads into customers, UI copy is simply meant to facilitate the user flow (the path taken by a user towards a particular outcome) in a logical, intuitive manner.
As the apps and websites we use, grow increasingly complex, there is a need for guidance on how to use the interface, locate certain features, and complete tasks.
UX writers work on everything from calls to action, navigation buttons, menus, error messages, chatbot conversations, and more. Their job is to critically evaluate copy from the perspective of the user, identifying any missing logic, confusing jargon, or ambiguity. They do this by having empathy for the user—what are the user’s needs, wants, and pain points? What concerns might they have about signing up for a particular service? What are their reasons for seeking a particular software solution? UX writers cultivate empathy for the user by participating in UX research, which involves interviewing potential users to understand more about their lives.
UX writers generate copy for:
As an integral member of the design team, UX writers participate in the product development process, from UX research to design, prototyping, and engineering. They also help create the brand or product voice and establish content guidelines for all content creators within the organization to follow. In a philosophical sense, user experience writers are charged with advocating for the user: if a product manager or engineer suggests a feature that would be confusing to users, the UX writer must stand up and suggest how it could be done better. In some companies, UX writers go by alternative job titles such as content strategist or content designer.
UX writers have a unique combination of skills that differentiates this role from other types of writing jobs. Above all, UX writers must be able to work within the constraints of the interfaces they’re designing for, taking into account screen size and how users acquire and retain information in a specific medium. This can be a chatbot, a smartwatch, a mobile app, or even a voice assistant.
There is no set education path for how to become a UX writer. There weren’t even any courses dedicated to UX writing until recently, so a general UX design course was your best bet. Now, there are plenty of online resources, short courses, and tutorials to help you learn UX writing skills.
1. Understand product design/UX design.
UX writers are highly specialized writers who understand the number-one principle of product design: solving problems for users. They also know how to evoke a brand’s voice in their writing, empathize with the user, advocate for the user throughout the product development process, and collaborate with cross-functional teams. Finally, they have a strong foundational knowledge of UX design, including user flow and design deliverables.
2. Learn the rules of microcopy.
Unlike other types of copy, microcopy is subject to space limitations like screen size and other technological constraints. Microcopy must be written with user intent in mind: intuiting what goals the user wants to achieve at a given time and displaying relevant information while hiding superfluities. UX writers must also understand how users acquire and retain information on different digital channels; for example, writing a conversation for a chatbot is very different from designing an interaction on a voice assistant. The UX Writing Library is an incredible resource that contains books, blogs, podcasts, events, and more for current and aspiring UX writers.
3. Teach yourself how to use design tools.
UX writers must work directly within the design tools, the product team is using. Tools like Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD are widely used and have similar interfaces, but they come with a learning curve. You’ll need to learn how to work on design deliverables from sketches to high-fidelity prototypes. Most design tools have a freemium version or offer free trials.
4. Build a UX writing portfolio.
Since UX writing is a nascent field, education and work experience aren’t the deciding factors in getting hired. What’s more important is having a body of work that shows employers your capabilities. If you’ve never had an internship in UX design, start by finding an app or website that needs a copy overhaul. Map out your process, from idea to finished product. Include screenshots, sketches, interactive prototypes, wireframes, and other design deliverables to show your design process and demonstrate your understanding of UX design principles. If possible, create user personas using publicly available data. Better yet, show ‘before’ and ‘after’ screenshots of the app or website you sought to fix juxtaposed with your work.
Any company that produces software or some other digital product can benefit from hiring a UX writer. As software grows increasingly complex, demand for UX writers is rising exponentially. UX writers can work for tech companies or agencies, while some work in consulting or as freelancers. UX writers in the U.S. earn six-figure salaries, with an average pay of $119,531 per year, or $57 an hour, according to ZipRecruiter. Earnings for U.S.-based UX writers are significantly higher than in other countries. For comparison, average earnings for UX writers in Switzerland is $85,527 and $62,859 in Australia.
Where these roles were once considered overlapping, there are now separate job boards for UX writing, conversation design, and chatbot design. In fact, the UX writer’s purview will only expand as digital interfaces are designed for more than just text inputs but gestures and other inputs beyond voice. UX writers of the future can expect to design for touch, swipe, pivot, rotate, eye movement, and expressions.
So, where should you start?
The best way to get started in UX writing is to educate yourself about the field. If you’re new to UX design, start by learning the fundamentals of experience design. Build your understanding of UX design as a philosophy, what UX research is and how it fits within the overall product development process, and what types of design deliverables are expected. Springboard’s Introduction to Design Course will teach you the fundamentals of UX design and learn whether a career in design is for you. This course is for people who are interested in UI/UX design but are not ready to take the full leap to switch careers. You might find it useful to take a writing course as well if you don’t have a writing background. If you decide to deepen your knowledge of UX design, Springboard offers a UX Career Track that gets you job-ready in six months with hands-on projects along with 1:1 mentoring from a design expert.
Ready to switch careers to UI/UX Design?
Springboard offers a comprehensive UI/UX Design bootcamp. No design background required—all you need is an eye for good visual design and the ability to empathize with your user. In the course, you’ll work on substantial design projects and complete a real-world externship with an industry client. After nine months, you’ll graduate with a UI/UX design mindset and a portfolio to show for it.
Download our guide to UX design fundamentals
This 50-page guide will take you through the foundations of user experience, including information architecture, user experience, and user interface.
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