While not very mainstream, “UX Writer” is a buzzword job title used by some companies in Silicon Valley. Google and Twitter were one of the first companies to create job listings, in which they described the job as content that helps users accomplish the task at hand. Don’t be surprised if job descriptions require knowledge in UX design and micro-copy.
What does a UX Writer Even Do?
UX means “user experience,” and is about the way a customer interacts with your brand. This can encompass the experience of the customer stumbling on the website, search engine description, or feedback from user actions on a website or app.
A UX writer’s art is to be sensitive to one’s emotions when using the product and taking advantage of the human brain’s reward circuitry. Copy, with careful word-smithing, must be written for every critical function of the software.
Let’s say a user is brought to a part of the web app or website to make a rather large purchase. Clicking that BUY button will likely send some shivers down anyone’s spine. This is why a carefully crafted thank you message can calm one’s nerves.
A UX writer’s educational background will likely be very similar to a copywriter, although it would be favorable with some experience in marketing or technology. This may include those experienced in editorial, journalism, creative writing, or public relations. As far as the type of college degree is concerned, you may find they range from English to Computer Science in a typical resume.
Since the UX Writer position can be quite dynamic and often changing in definition, the writer will have to work in an agile, independent, & spontaneous manner. They may be responsible for generating their own wireframes or editorial strategies while interacting with the company’s multiple departments.
Do I need a UX Writer Or Just a Copywriter?
Your design team and software development team would typically work separately and pass things off to the marketing team. Within the depths of the marketing team, a copywriter would be tasked with writing promotional content with strong calls to action. It is a flexible process that could apply to both print or online publication, but things are shifting towards the internet.
Although not set in stone, a UX writer may work closer to the front-end development team than the marketing department. With the writer rubbing shoulders with developers and the UX team, she or he can make the production of content in-sync with the direction of development.
The content of a copywriter may be too generalized to be used as UX microcopy for most functions. This is likely due to the lack of UX experience of a typical copywriter and communication barriers set up by a company. Of course, a copywriter is still an important part of a project to write marketing content or persuasive product descriptions.
Interviewing for a UX Writer
If the candidate doesn’t specifically have experience with UX design or writing, you will want to see samples in micro-copy. While any copywriter may know how to put an article or email together, but that doesn’t mean that they are good at micro-copy.
It would be best if you interviewed a UX Writer in the same manner as a visual designer. You will want to test them on word choice for micro-copy. It should then be followed up by having them justify why each word fits. An experienced writer would back up their decision with solid research and a bit of common sense.
While the UX writer is a new and loosely defined job role, it will likely become widespread in the future. Since technology is now so deeply embedded in our everyday lives, companies need storytellers to give their product a relatable voice. In the words of the Harvard Business Review, your company is only as good as your writing.