UX Writing as the New Approach to Quality Content Creation
Written by Amanda Sparks
12 September 2018
Digital content creation has been trending since the dawn of the Internet. People have always created articles, blog posts and other content for their websites. For years, content creators: copywriters and designers have made progress and built careers as quality content providers.
However, recent developments in the User Experience research have provided us with a very important question: “Why does content matter?” This opened the floodgates for what is known as UX writing, and it has become the de facto way of creating content for young tech savvy audiences.
But what does UX writing mean in practice? How does it differ from regular content writing? Most importantly, do you need UX writing for your website at all? Let’s take a look at the rise of this new era of digital content and how you can benefit from it in the long run.
Content creation 101
Before we get into User Experience details, let’s take a look at what content creation is. As we all know, online content creation consists of writing articles or posts containing text. This texts usually perceive information relevant to the audience we are trying to engage in our business.
The content optimization refers to SEO. If the SEO rules are followed through, your content will rank higher. This system has worked for years, and with minor changes, it allows content creators and webmasters to be free to shape their websites as desired.
The advent of UX
With the rise of digital design such as web and app design, a new type of writing has become a necessity. Content creators are sufficiently differing in writing long-read content, but what about short-form interface writing? User Interface (UI) design required much different, to-the-point type of writing that would accommodate small navigation bars, buttons and mobile screens.
Thus, User Experience writers came out of necessity. These writers didn’t simply write to convey a message or to inform their audience of something. Their task was to instruct the users to do something specific, to guide their experience into the right direction. As time went by, UX designers started writing for other types of digital content such as website navigation, call to action and even advertisement.
For example, a UX writer will think about the user’s feelings far more than a content writer would because it’s an integral part of their content journey. Nowadays, UX writers and content writers share similar roles but aim to do very different things with their writing.
UX writing VS Content writing
It’s much easier to draw parallels and differences between UX writing and content writing if we simply break it down into points. Let’s take a look at what these two professions have in common and what separates them from one another:
1. User Experience writing consists of mapping out a reader’s journey from start to finish. UX writers take feelings, thoughts and takeaways into consideration when writing their content. This is what makes them so unique when they first came out to the market. It is also one of the reasons why UX writers are starting to write content along their elder colleagues.
2. UX writers are often a must when it comes to application design, web design or user interface design. Any type of writing that consists of site navigation, audience mentality and customer’s journey is a job for UX writers. This type of writing can be done by traditional content creators, but specialized UX writers will do a better job of it most of the time.
3. UX writers are often related to copywriters and white paper writers due to their directness and short-form content. UX writers rarely have an opportunity to write several consecutive sentences about the same set of thought before moving on to other elements of their project. This is one of the most glaring differences between them and content writers who specialize in long-form content writing.
4. What distinguishes UX writers from content writers the most is the nature of their work. UX writers are team players that are deeply involved into the development and design of whatever they write about. This means that they work with web designers, programmers and other professionals on the same projects and collaborate throughout the process. This gives them a unique perspective that is often lacking in content writing, especially when professional development opportunities are involved.
5. Lastly, UX writers work close to designers and creative experts more than other writers. They often think in abstract terms and care about how others feel about their work. They often ask people simply to read their writing and tell them what emotions and feelings it invoked in them. That doesn’t mean UX writers are novelists or storytellers – they are simply involved in the psychological part of reading more than any other type of writer out there.
1. Even though we are quite familiar with content creators by now, it’s important to define their characteristics and professional traits. As such, content writers are long-form writers. They are able to write blog posts, articles, opinion pieces, essays and other types of writing as freelancers or agency writers. Content writers rarely delve into design or UX and often focus on writing itself. This is due to the fact that their writing requires extensive research, background checks, case study implementation as well as SEO optimization.
2. There is quite a lot of work in writing articles and focusing on words and sentences to justify the fact that content writers spend the majority of their time typing. Content writers are often freelancers and do so as part-time throughout the world. Some of them opt for working with agencies and online companies that specialize in outsourcing and they make it their full-time work in doing so.
3. It’s important to note that some professional content companies, including EssaySupply, GetGoodGrade or FlashEssay, have already implemented the concept of UX writing in their services. While UX writing mainly tackles the issue of writing for apps and websites, it is also bleeding over into content writing as a whole. The notion of using customer’s journey for content writing is a bold one. However, content writers are already trying their best to take the benefits of UX writers and implement them in their work.
4. Content writers are still traditional content creators at heart, despite their acceptance of UX writing trends as of late. That is why content writers should never be asked to think about design principles and app design layout. They are writing professionals that are able to deliver quality content for your audience to read.
This doesn’t make them design gurus, however, and UX designers should always take precedence over them. When it comes to pricing, UX designers get paid more due to their popularity and the necessity to think deeper and more carefully about what they are doing. After all, UX designers often make or break a website or an application that they are in charge of writing for.
Pros and cons of UX writing
Now that we have a clearer understanding of what UX writing is and how it differentiates from standard content writing, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons it can provide. While UX writing may be the trending writing niche that everyone talks about, it also has its flaws and downsides. Let’s jump right into it:
- UX writing takes the end user into consideration every step of the way. What this means is that UX writers will think not only about the words they use, but also about color, formatting, annunciations and other text elements. Every pixel on the article page is important for UX designers. If the background texture on the website doesn’t convey the right emotions for their article, they will surely let you know about it. This is a great way to have quality content written for you and to get some insight into your overall site design in doing so.
- UX writers will always have more questions than content writers. They will ask about your audience, your company as well as your reasoning for hiring them. They take every bit of information into consideration before they write the content they were instructed to. This makes them very aware of what they are doing and they appear far more committed to their work than their content writing counterparts.
- What makes UX writing unique is the short form it takes. There is very little fluff involved in UX writing since UX writers are often in charge of filling in the blanks left by designers and programmers. This means that writers that specialize in UX will always deliver actionable, relevant information to your audience without turning to unnecessary information. However, this also means that UX writers take more time to write longer content, so it’s important to weigh your options before committing to a project.
- User Experience writers don’t like to work under pressure. That is to say – they should never be forced to work under strict deadlines. UX writers are like designers in that regard. Their work involves creative work and empathy towards the readers they are writing for. Rushing them to the finish line only to discover they have created a mediocre product won’t get you anywhere. Companies that work under strict short deadlines should steer clear of UX writers since they won’t be able to deliver content on time. They work on their own terms and their personal mood and feelings play a huge role in the quality of the final product.
- Due to their popularity and the fact that their trade requires constant learning, UX writers are less affordable than content writers. They can often charge far more than their colleagues for very similar work. However, UX writers are still necessary for web and application design since programmers and developers rarely have the know-how of writing content themselves. In a nutshell, working with UX writers costs more in the long run.
- Companies that work in rigid environments with strict work and project policies should think twice about hiring UX writers. Giving these writers no space to do their work will result in writing that you yourself could have done for free. If you are thinking about bringing a UX writer aboard, be prepared to give them some breathing room to do their work properly without being limited by your company policies. In that case, it’s often more viable to open a job position for a UX writer/designer and have them on a payroll.
- Lastly, UX writing and UX design in general are still in the infancy level – there are no strict rules to abide by. This means that two UX writers will never be alike, and it’s up to you to search for the right one. Many people will claim that they are UX writers only to land a project, so make sure to vet them properly before trusting them with your work.
It’s also worth noting that UX writing will expand considerably in the next several years with the rising popularity of mobile apps and web browsing. Waiting for better conditions to hire a UX writer might be a good idea if your business is small and can’t afford any unnecessary expenses at the moment.
Working with UX writers
Ideate before communicating
Before working with UX writers, there are a few things you should consider. As UX writers are creative individuals with deeper thoughts about their content writing, you should approach them with the same mindset. Think about the project you are about to propose to your UX writer.
- How does that project make you feel personally and how can it contribute to your company’s bigger picture?
- Are there any elements you would change if anyone asked you?
- What are the emotions and responses you want to trigger with the readers of that particular content?
Show that you care
UX writers are just like designers when it comes to teamwork orientation. While content writers prefer getting briefs and being left alone to work, UX writers are different in that respect. They like to feel involved and showing that you genuinely care about the project will go a long way.
You may only be a middleman between the CEO and UX writer but your performance is on the line just like everyone else’s. Show some personal involvement by bringing examples and sketches of how you would create the content in question. Your UX writer will look at it in a very positive light and their work will reflect that.
It’s often the case that briefings are unclear or vague. Let your UX writer know that you are available for any questions or confusion they might have about the content they are about to create. Do this by putting a smile on your face and letting them know they can contact you anytime.
This open-minded nature is often missing from corporate culture, so don’t be afraid to let your guard down and talk with a friendly tone. The better your UX writers understand the brief they are given, the better their final product will be.
A new horizon
Now that we have covered the benefits of hiring UX writers and how they differentiate from traditional content writers, what are the takeaways of this discussion? Which writer should you hire for your own project and not miss the mark in doing so?
The answer is far from black-and-white since both types of writers bring something different and unique to the table. The question is even more complicated when we consider that the two professions are slowly merging. Content writers are adopting UX writing methodology while the latter is starting to create long-form content.
The best thing you can do for your company is to define exactly what it is you are looking for in your content. Once you identify your main detractors and bottlenecks, you will know what type of writing you need to fill in the blanks.
With the continued evolution of SEO, you will be hard-pressed to simply optimize your content and not involve the reader’s journey into consideration. Place as much emphasis on your readers’ emotions as you do to your own brand and image and you will flourish in the new content writing market.