What is UX writing?

UX writing is less “writing, but apps” and more “design, but words”.

What I mean by that is that UX writing is primarily a UX design specialization. UX writers typically focus on interface copy and language while working collaboratively as part of a design team on a specific product or feature, rather than working solo or in writer/editor pairs the way that bloggers, copywriters, and marketing writers tend to work.

If you’re not user-centered you’re missing the “UX” part of UX writer. UX writing, if it’s anything, is a specialization of the (user experience) design role wherein words are your primary design material. The things you write are part of the product, not the packaging.

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In the same way that a given designer might specialize and focus on typography, animation, interaction, or usability as part of a design team, a UX writer focuses on words and language as part of a design team. “Doing” the UX writing does not necessarily mean writing lots of new text. Being the UX writer could mean helping designers or developers write copy, or it could mean collaborating with designers to change the design such that writing something is not even necessary.

The UX writing specialization is part of the UX design discipline, which itself is a confusing term. Generally, when people talk about UX design, they mean the application of a human-centered design process to the development of intangible things like apps, websites, and services.

An important note: UX writing is made up. Software interface copy got written before anyone called themselves UX writers, and it will get written after the term falls out of vogue. Like many design trends and specializations, UX writing is perhaps best understood as a label that helps like-minded people find and learn from each other. It’s more of a hashtag than a specific intellectual pursuit. There is no “thing” that is the UX writing – words in a software interface are not the UX writing. (This is not true of every design concept; for instance, software systems have an information architecture whether or not that information architecture was designed intentionally, and a discipline has grown up around that truth.)

Send me your questions! I’d love to know what you want to know about content strategy, UX writing, product strategy, writing, creativity, or any of the other topics on this site.

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