First; UX Writing vs Copywriting
Although copywriting often gets used as a synonym for UX writing, in fact, they’re opposites. The thing they have in common is that they are both verbal communication in an interface. The difference lies in the fact that UX writing supports the users’ actions and tasks while copywriting they try to influence the user's behavior in a certain way.
6 Criteria for good UX
UX is a broad concept, there are many different principles to good UX. But let’s sum up 6 criteria a good UX cannot live without:
Only use UX writing when necessary, don’t “overuse” it. Too much writing might clutter your interface, while lacking UX writing might confuse it.
For example; some websites automatically redirect you to the homepage when you get a 404 error. This might be confusing since the user doesn’t know why he just returned home. Always provide a 404 page with clear UX writing that explains the problem.
Use the vocabulary of your target audience and be clear. For example: don’t use difficult or technical jargon in error messages.
Try to deliver the message in as few words as possible. This helps the user to get on track as fast as possible.
Provide clear next steps for the user.
For example: provide a link to the most popular pages when a user lands on a 404 page.
Try to write like a human instead of a computer. Use words like “sorry” and “please” to make your UX writing feel more conversational.
Use your branding to make your writing feel familiar. When appropriate, you can use your brand’s voice, vision, and values in your writing but don’t overdo it. Find out how to find your UX writing voice in the next section.
4 Steps to finding your UX Writing Voice
Your own UX writing voice might benefit your user experience since it empowers your branding. Thoughtful UX writing helps to gain trust and will attract your target audience. If you want to find your own UX voice, follow these 4 steps.
1. Get to know your identity
Write down all information about your brand. Try to imagine your brand is a person to make this easier. Write down every aspect on a separate post-it. Be as honest and emotional as you can.
2. Transfer your identity aspects to values
Remove irrelevant post-its and cluster the rest of them into categories. When you’re done, try to name these clusters. These will become your values.
3. Describe the values
Explain what these values mean. Think about the meaning of the value itself and about how this value could be reflected in your UX Writing.
4. Define the rules
Define writing rules for each value you formulated. A value like “optimistic” could result in rules like “always using exclamation points” or “hand out compliments when the user does something good”. These rules will become your ultimate style guide for using your voice in branded UX writing.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get started with UX writing!