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UX writing: what it is and when you need it

In the industry, UX writers are known as the copywriters of the future. But why? What exactly do UX writers do? And when do we need their skills? Supertext sheds some light for you.

What does the term mean?

“UX” is an abbreviation of “user experience”, and refers to the experience users have of engaging with a digital product. UX writing is about creating texts that are clear, easy to read and effective for users. An intuitive structure and appealing visuals are the key ingredients of a positive user experience. When it comes to design, your first associations might be with art or fashion – but texts are a form of design, too. Which is why, in addition to good technical writing skills, UX writers often have a marketing background. They know how to make a text look good.

Where do you need UX writing?

Wherever users interact with a product or interface – on websites, in apps or in software – and wherever you want to encourage people to do a particular thing – like search, scroll, click or buy. When you visit an online shop, it should be immediately obvious where to find the product information or the shopping cart. This is all part of the user journey, which should be as pleasant as possible and enable users to find their way around quickly. According to figures from Forrester, good UX design can increase conversion rates by up to 400%, from newsletter registration to the final purchase. UX writing is especially important because the majority of products nowadays are digital – and this trend is only increasing.

When it comes to ordering and writing UX texts, context is key. The writer needs to know the exact environment in which the text will be used. Which is why they often work directly in the original format, such as an app’s design tool or a website’s content management system (CMS). Context is especially relevant when it comes to translating UX texts, as text lengths in different languages can vary considerably. When in doubt, it’s best to run a beta test in the new language before going live.

What makes UX texts different from classic marketing texts?

UX texts don’t cover every kind of marketing content, just the content that appears in the product itself, i.e. on the website or in the app. Unlike standard marketing texts, one of the main aims is ease of navigation: the individual pieces of text aren’t freestanding, but need to come together in a logical sequence and link different pages or features. UX writing covers both running text and “microcopy” – the text that appears on buttons, calls to action (CTAs), forms and other labels. UX texts aren’t primarily about marketing the product, but about creating a positive overall experience. So the texts need to work with the layout.

How does it work?

It’s important that the tone is appropriate for the target audience. The text in a gaming app will probably be aimed at younger users, for example, while an online shop for replacement computer parts will be targeted at tech-savvy readers. However, the following five points are a good general guide to making your texts more user-friendly:

  • Get straight to the point: use sentences with a maximum of 10 to 13 words, and start a new paragraph after a maximum of five lines.
  • Learn to love headings: when online, people tend to skim rather than reading things in detail. Sub-headings make it much easier to get an overview.
  • Address users directly: “You can find XYZ here” is usually preferable to “XYZ can be found here”.
  • Use digits rather than writing out numbers: they’re quicker to read and people are more likely to remember them.

Prefer to leave it to the professionals? Whether you need texts for a website, a mobile app or a new programmable coffee machine, we can help you achieve the right user-friendly text design. Here comes the CTA – in a standout format, of course…


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Cover image via Twenty20

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