Having worked with UX teams, I’ve been amazed that UX people don’t seem to think content writing is important.
Although Content and UX have similar goals, there is always conflict when is comes to execution. The goal of UX design is to make the user reacah content quickly and effectively whereas the goal of content is to persuade users to take action. The disconnect is clear when UX teams work on Marketing led web properties. UX teams generally create wireframes with dummy content and the marketing teams then fill it with required content. Marketing teams complain that they need more space on the homepage, more copy space or space to put “SEO Content” etc. and the overall User experience suffers.
It’s not that UX teams do not realise this. It’s that they are unable to work with regular copywriters because regular writers are not familiar with product development or the UX process. Copywriters want to play with the copy to attract attention with sexy words whereas UX is about simplifying content and direct messaging. They are not trained in understanding differences in Sales vs Product copies and they are more used to working with marketers than designers. What is required is a writer that has understanding of User research and UX design process disciplines, is not afraid of data and can collaborate with product, marketing, legal and Biz dev teams. Thats a tall order unless you train someone specifically for this role.
Enter UX writer. Yes, there is such a role and it’s gaining a lot of prominence.
A “UX writer” search on Linkedin Jobs got me around 6000 job requirements with jobs offered by some of the best companies in the world. UX experts have predicted that it’s one of the biggest trends of 2019.
Human — Technology communication has already moved towards audio and text conversation with voice assistants becoming mainstream. This has given rise to conversation UX design practice. If you have seen the movie “Her”, Joaquin Phoenix’s character falls in love with his virtual assistant — an AI powered chatbot. Here, the technology completely vanishes and the voice assistant becomes a human to its user. For this, someone needs to write lines for the assistant based on user response. This is a specialised skill.
Another skill necessary for a UX writer is her ability to collaborate with various teams at the design stage. At a previous company, I was working with a UX team that was developing an Anti Virus App. The entire App was rethought including the name was changed. It was for a young audience and sub 10000 android phone. The need for a UX writer was never more evident as the messages needed to be motivating, spoke to a wide set of audiences and with an understanding of the product. The UX writer (was not known as a UX writer then) created more than 3000 messages with different tones for different set of users. The app was built to recognise not only different audiences but different moments with different audiences. This created some unbelievable results clearly shown in conversion data. This could only be achieved with collaboration between UX, Technology and Content team.
UX writing as a skill will only gain more followers and there is a real need to deeply integrate UX writing as part of the UX design process. There are many content job descriptions — Writer, Strategist, Marketer, Copywriter and many confuse them because there is a lot of overlap. A UX writer’s role is simply to guide the user, not sell to them.