purpose — Copywriting is writing to sell — UX writing is writing to inform • UX writing helps people interact with a product or service — UX copy includes buttons and menu labels, error messages, security notes, terms and conditions, instructions. • UX writers are also similar to content designers and technical writers — We’re all working to solve the same problem…
all the time — But we forget what it's like to be a new user. • A new user might be anxious about using your product — Give them everything they need and nothing more. • We know too much (curse of knowledge) — the more you know, the further you are from the beginner’s perspective. • Users have existing expectations and behaviours — Don’t assume users will ﬁnd your product intuitive if they do the same thing diﬀerently on other apps/websites.
when you don’t understand how to use something • Writers can help users feel less anxious by — being obvious (keep a beginner’s mind) — using plain language — avoiding jargon (but if it’s useful, leave it in) — writing consistently (do we say ‘click’ or ‘tap’) Monzo spending alert
cognitive load (mental eﬀort) increases 11% for every 100 words • We prefer high frequency words over low frequency words (use forums to discover audience vocabulary) • Your eyes miss 30% of text on a page • We guess what words mean by the shape of them, it’s called a saccade rhythm (use words readers can skip using their natural saccade rhythm) • Most people can recognise 15,000 words — Jakob Nielsen, How Do Users Read — Sarah Richards, Content Design
or every word in a sentence. Our eyes skip along the text in small jumps called saccades. After each saccade, our brain takes a snapshot and arranges the letters into words. Those pauses are called ﬁxations. — Jost Hochuli, Detail in Typography
is 9 years • Roughly 11.9 million people are living with a disability (1 in 5 people or 20%) • Poor internet connection • Busy people • Physical injuries “Getting to the point quickly has less to do with intelligence and more to do with time and respect.” — Sarah Richards, Content Design
the reader — Use empathy to ﬁnd when a user is having a moment, and be a part of it. • Keep a beginner’s mind — Skip the what and go directly to the why. Focus on why your product is useful. • Use simple, everyday language — It helps everyone, especially those with a visual impairment, dyslexia or anxiety. • People don’t ﬁnd the same things funny — Humour is risky.
“I need answers to this, this and this before I can start.” • You ask (roughly) the same questions — “Who am I writing/designing for? What’s the purpose? Brand guidelines?” • And, you make things together
copy in advance — Don’t leave it till the last minute to send your copy. Think about the design deadline too. • Send copy in a text ﬁle, Pages, or anything else but MS Word — Ever watched a designer try to open a Word doc? Most designers don’t use MS Word. • Ask for feedback — Hoo boy, time to let go of the ego. Feedback can only improve your work. • Celebrate their moments of copy greatness — A designer wrote some of my favourite copy, don’t be jealous.
but don’t get ahead of yourself — It frees up creativity for you and the designer. It gives writers freedom to write without thinking of space and set the context for design. • Work in sprints — Agree on sprint stages to avoid disruptive changes in the ﬁnal draft. • Sometimes, I’m wrong — Why shouldn’t a writer come up with a great visual idea, or a designer think of a brilliant headline? It’s okay to be wrong.
you won’t be the same for your audience. — Make your audience feel less anxious by using high frequency words. • Be empathetic and cautious with humour — People with autism might not understand metaphors or idioms. — Don’t risk simplicity for the sake of a joke. • Work better with designers — It’s not them and us, we’re in it together. — work in short stints and communicate.
‘Connect’ or ‘save’ are more meaningful than ‘set up’ or ‘manage’. • Avoid showing all details up front — Too much information can quickly overwhelm users, reveal detail as needed. • Use ‘today,’ ‘yesterday’ or ‘tomorrow’ instead of a date — People don’t use the date when they refer to the day before the present day. • Avoid long blocks of text — Look at your work on a mobile to check spacing.