UX writing is still the new kid on the block (which means tons of opportunity!) But, chances are most of what you think you know about UX writing is wrong.
UX writers are only kinda sorta writers… We're different from other types of writers, because we use words to design experiences. It's less about wordsmith-ing and more about puzzle piecing the right words together strategically to make something easy to use.
I’m here to debunk the most common misconceptions I hear out in the wild and lay out real-talk about the role of UX writers and how to become one.
Misconception 1: UX writers fill in the blanks
Here’s a common scenario:
“Slater, the design is ready to go. We’ve looped in engineering. Can you do a pass at the copy?”
That’s not how UX writing works.
UX writers don’t fill in the blanks. We’re part of the design process, and sometimes it’s impossible to create an excellent user experience just by editing the words. That’s because the content, not just the words, is an equal part of the design.
UX writers think about the story, hierarchy, and flow just as much as product designers. The specific words need to make sense chronologically, and sometimes that can’t be done without collaborating on component usage and hierarchy.
The best time to loop in a UX writer is at the start of a project. That way, the UX writer can contribute an equal amount to the design process, adding content-related input unique to their specialty. Because, as I said, UX writers don’t fill in the blanks.
Misconception 2: Anyone can write microcopy
Just like you wouldn’t ask your plumber to take a look at your roof, writing is very specialized.
I can comb through user interface with a razor-sharp lens, but if you asked me to write technical documentation, you’d get a mediocre result in double the amount of time. That’s because different types of writing require different skill sets and mindsets.
For example, a content writer writing an e-book is masterful at creating a detailed outline, finding credible sources, and writing long-form content in an organized and engaging manner. A UX writer improving an onboarding flow is masterful at auditing the existing flow, creating curious questions for user research, and distilling the right message to be shown at the right time.
All writers work with words, but the way we use them couldn’t be more different.
Misconception 3: UX writers write all day
UX writers aren’t just word sleuths — we’re designers who write.
Because we’re designers, our day-to-day is wrapped up in the design process. UX writers sometimes spend more time in user research, working sessions, systems development, and testing than they spend putting cursor to Figma.
Contrary to other types of writing, the bulk of UX writing happens before anything gets made. It’s the discovery work in the beginning that builds relevant, valuable experiences.
There’s more to UX than the final product, and the UX writing process reflects that.
Misconception 4: Fewer words = less time
I can confidently say that it takes much more time for me to crystallize microcopy than it’s taking for me to write this blog post.
That’s because UX writers tackle:
- Communicating a message in a concise, informative way
- Creating said message in the appropriate brand voice
- Juggling how one line of microcopy fits into the rest of the experience
It’s more than just writing, it’s strategy. Effective strategies don’t happen quickly. Less is more, and less can also take more time.
Working in a “new” discipline is hard, and the more we can share and educate about the role of UX writers, the better we can work together to build better experiences for real people.
Happy UX writing 🖖