How to Contribute to UX as a Writer (and Make a VERY Good Living at the Same Time)
As a writer, you know words matter. But you might not realize just what a difference they can make to a website user.
Take a recent Google study which evaluated the results when a company changed the copy on their hotel search feature from "book a room" to "check availability."
Turns out, switching to the phrase "check availability" led to a 17% increase in people using the digital calendar to check if rooms were available. After all, "check availability" sounds like the next logical step if you're considering a trip, doesn't it? Yet it also recognizes you may still be in browsing mode and not yet ready to book.
"Check availability" sounds like less of a commitment than "book a room,” so users felt more comfortable taking that next step. (And of course, once the visitor could see the options, they were one step closer to being ready to book.)
The increased click rate from the tweaks to the button copy shows the power of UX copywriting.
What Is UX Writing?
UX stands for "user experience" and relates to both design and writing. The two work in tandem to guide people (users) through a website or an app in a way that makes it easy for users to accomplish what they want to do.
For instance, the "book a room" vs. "check availability" example recognizes the logical next step is to "check availability." After all, you're still in information-gathering mode and not decision-making mode — not yet anyway. "Book a room" feels like a decision. Instead of feeling led through the process, it feels like you’re being pushed too fast.
A UX writer's job is to guide the user through the website or app by thinking about the people's questions about the website, app, or product and then anticipating the user’s needs.
Think about your own experiences … When was the last time you opened a new website or app? Did you find it easy to use or confusing? If it seemed easy to use, if you knew what to do and when, and how to accomplish your task easily, that's because it had good UX.
After all, if people are confused when they open a website or app, they're likely to hit the "back" button and never return. There's always another option.
But if it's obvious what they're to do first when they open the app and then what to do next, and so on, then you may have a new user who sticks around.
(If you've ever received a confusing notice about a "fatal error" when a program shut down, that's a company that may benefit from a good UX writer.)
Every online business needs to attract a consistent stream of people to their online home every day. They may use blog content, webinars, and Pay-Per-Click ads to do so.
They don't want to put all that effort in only to have the potential new customer immediately hit the "back" button because they're confused!
That's where a UX writer comes in. They guide the user through the website, software, or app.
Think about the software you use. Did you learn it through trial and error, or did you follow prompts that guided you through the process of placing a grocery order or signing up for a new software trial?
In one way, good UX is a modern way to incorporate an instruction manual. A UX writer will collaborate with designers on homepages, button copy, 404 pages, and sign-up forms to help the user throughout their journey on a website or app.
The Difference Between Copywriting, Content Writing, and UX Writing
You're familiar with billboards. They rely heavily on graphics with minimal words to share an emotion with bored interstate travelers. That's a form of copywriting advertising agencies excel at.
Online, you have landing pages, sales pages, and emails as other forms of copywriting, and they're all written with the intent to sell a product or service.
Content writing can be educational blogs and articles, executive thought leadership, case studies, white papers, and other non-salesy, pre-suasion materials designed to inform and educate the reader.
But when it comes to UX writing, it's a different beast. The copy is often short, and it focuses on the psychology of the user. Your writing is acting as a helping hand to make sure they get the answers they need to move them forward, step-by-step, toward a buying decision or completing a task.
You’re acting as an advocate for your user and what they need at a given point in the process.
Plus, you’re helping to build the trust factor by making a genuine connection with your reader. The cornerstone of effective UX copywriting is empathy. You’re putting yourself in your reader’s shoes and making sure you are understanding what they need, and providing the right information or prompts at the right time.
You have to know who you’re talking to … understand how they feel … what they want and need … what their pain points are and what makes them happy … and when you can do that, you’ll enjoy great success and personal satisfaction as a UX copywriter.
Who Uses UX Writers?
Virtually all established companies use UX writers, from Booking(dot)com to Oracle software to Google, and they test to see what works best. That's how Google discovered "check availability" increased engagement.
Yet, it's still an emerging field, so there are plenty of opportunities if you think writing this type of copy is for you.
Many companies are prioritizing hiring copywriters trained in writing effective UX copy because they stand to lose 88% of their customers to a bad UX (based on a study from Amazon Web Services).
But a great user experience can have the opposite effect. When a customer sees a website where the copy, tone, and messaging is informative, conversational, inviting, and easy to follow — they not only stay longer … they buy more!
In fact, a study by Forrester Research showed that for every $1 a company invests in improving a customer’s experience — they can earn up to $100 back in sales over time!
No wonder companies are looking for copywriters who can focus on what the reader needs and write messaging that answers their questions and helps them on their buying journey!
Is UX Writing for You?
UX writing might be for you if you have experience writing technical manuals, enjoy solving creative problems, or otherwise have a process-oriented brain.
If you’ve got an interest in being a “helper” or helpful guide, you may also enjoy UX copywriting, because your words can guide the user to the information they need.
It also requires a desire to work with others. You'll need to coordinate with other members of the product team, including web and product designers, to make sure every benefit of the product is clearly communicated to users or potential users.
People come into UX writing from all kinds of backgrounds, including journalism and product design. If you can look at a website and come up with ways to improve it from a user's perspective, UX writing could be a good fit for you.
In essence, a UX writer is someone who collaborates well with others and advocates for the user. When a designer wants to introduce something new into the app or website, it's your job to think of the user and how they'll benefit and how you can communicate that benefit.
And good UX writers are well-compensated for their efforts. According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average salary for a UX copywriter is $92,888 a year … And the “feel-good” factor of helping your readers is a “bonus” for you.
UX is all about putting your reader first … making sure they’re seeing the real “human element” behind your client’s company … and giving them all the helpful information and guidance they need to feel good about the decisions they make …
It’s a rewarding type of copywriting that is gaining in demand every day. That’s why now is the ideal time to get started.
You can find out more about UX writing here. What do you think? Does UX writing sound like a good fit for you?
How to Write High-Value UX Copy
Discover how to transform everything you write into “triple-win” UX copywriting that creates a great experience for your readers … boosts your client’s bottom line … and creates a positive impact on the world you can feel proud of. Learn More »