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The Value of UX Writing and Why It Matters

This unique skillset marries copywriting with web design to make a website as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.

MC UX Writing

By Lindsey Hency

User experience (UX) is often thought of as a function of web design, but copywriters also play a role in making a website intuitive for users. That’s why both writers and designers need to be fluent in UX writing, as it’s all about using text to help users navigate a website in a way that’s easy, utilitarian and even enjoyable.

How Is UX Writing Different from Web Writing?

UX writing is a specialized skill that marries copywriting with web design — and it’s sometimes even a wholly separate role on a team. It’s not the “body text” on a page or even the display copy (H1s, H2s and the like). Rather, UX writing requires forethought into how an end user will navigate the website and consume the content. The UX writer anticipates the end users’ needs and delivers text and navigation that makes interacting with the site frictionless.

For example, consider the functionality of the website we created for Vanderbilt University Medical Center to communicate with members of the media. It was purposely built to serve the organization’s public relations goals.

As such, everything on the homepage is presented with a media audience in mind. Knowing that the No. 1 reason reporters visit the site is to get press releases, we included a prominent button at the top of the page for them to do exactly that. Rather than having to dig for the PR team’s contact information, there’s a link right there in the navigation bar. And because we know that reporters are often looking for news within a specific geographic location or “beat,” we organized the “Explore” menu to be easily scannable by these categories.

3 Ways to Get Started with UX Writing

UX writing is more about strategy than copy. But it doesn’t require a new website or even a redesign to implement a few UX writing best practices. Here are three ways to use UX writing principles to improve the usability of your website.

1. Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Shoes

Even if your site serves multiple audiences, think about how you can segment and speak to each audiences’ needs.

When we were designing the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans’ website, which is visited by historical homeowners, potential homeowners, New Orleans visitors, history buffs and community stakeholders, we knew each audience would be looking for different things. To meet the unique needs of homeowners, we created a section on the site specifically for them under the direct heading “Help for Homeowners,” which packages everything homeowners (the largest segment of the center’s audience) need to access. This makes it extra easy for them without alienating other users.

Use simple, descriptive language that enables users to quickly get where they want to be. They should never have to guess what they’re going to find on the next page when they click a button or link.

2. Make Navigation Intuitive

Use simple, descriptive language that enables users to quickly get where they want to be. They should never have to guess what they’re going to find on the next page when they click a button or link.

In designing The Source, a content hub for Niagara Falls USA, we used succinct text to help readers find the information they’re looking for. The prominent “Plan Your Trip” button on the homepage lets users who already know they want to visit get right down to business. We also addressed a secondary audience — people who want to experience the Falls but think there isn’t much to do outside of the main attraction. That’s why our second most prominent text block is aptly titled, “Beyond the Falls,” which gives travelers a taste of the other things they can do in the area (and why they should stay for more than a day trip!).

3. Streamline Steps to Conversion

Ask yourself how you can make taking action a no-brainer for your users. Without cluttering the homepage with too many links, what’s the most direct way to get folks where they want to be?

Knowing that people purchasing tickets on the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans’ website are usually looking for the next available event, we designed a call-to-action box that lives right on the Events & Classes main menu dropdown featuring the center’s immediately upcoming event. This allows users to bypass scrolling through an events calendar or even clicking on an intermediary page.

UX writing is a specialty all its own. But implementing even small changes can make a big difference for your users.

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Lindsey Hency Yellow
Lindsey Hency Associate Creative Director

Lindsey brings more than 15 years of experience to the creative team at C/A, having worked in a diverse range of industries, including advertising, branding and digital product agencies. Her varied background allows her to approach design holistically by keeping all aspects of a customer’s experience in mind. Lindsey has worked with brands such as Microsoft, Autodesk, Box, IBM and University of Phoenix to create digital solutions that help people engage with brands in a meaningful way.

Lindsey’s unyielding appetite for all things art and design extends into most of her hobbies. On the weekends you can usually find her working on a painting or art project alongside her daughter who also enjoys bringing her imagination to life with crayons and watercolors.

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