What Is UX Writing? Understanding Its Role in User Engagement

There is no need to say how important UX/UI design is for a software product since it plays a critical role in creating a positive first impression and leads users towards conversions. However, not many people notice the component that really does 99% of all work and serves as a decisive point.

We are talking about UX writing here. All the microcopy that you encounter when interacting with a software product falls under the UX copywriting category and in this article, we’ll explain what exactly microcopy is, why UX writing is not the same as copywriting, and why you need to invest in UX writing asap (if you haven’t yet).

What Is UX Writing? Understanding Its Role in User Engagement

Defining UX writing

Before defining UX writing, let’s talk about your latest experience with the software product first. Think about it: was it smooth and helpful enough? If yes, then think about the following: what exactly made your experience so enjoyable?

Most probably, it was the “invisible” part of the design aka the UX writing. By that, we mean all these messages that you are interacting with, such as “learn more”, “click here”, “go back”, etc. Sure, users are attracted by bright colors and outstanding visuals but it’s the text on the image that makes them perform a certain action and suggests what kind of action to take.

Hence, we can define UX writing as the process of creating a copy that users directly interact with and that centers around user goals. This text works in tandem with the design elements and together, these two components create user experiences. 

It is important to note that UX copy is as important as UX design. Moreover, UX design supports UX writing since it’s the text that we use to communicate a message to users. Let’s look at the following example: we have a red button with a “Get your discount now” message on the homepage. If you show users only the button with no text on it, they will probably understand that the red color implies some sort of urgency or importance – but they won’t understand what exactly is meant by it. But if you show users the plain message written in words, they will always understand it, no matter what color the letters or the background is. 

The difference between UX writing and copywriting

While some believe that UX writing and copywriting are the same, in reality, these two types of copy require a completely different approach. It’s true that a skilled copywriter can be a good UX writer and vice versa but it’s still important to understand the difference between these two concepts.

The main things to remember when comparing these two types of copy are their goals, focus, and nature:

  • UX writing: is very user-centric, centers around user goals, and aims to provide a great user experience.
  • Copywriting: is used for marketing purposes, is opinion-based, uses storytelling, and helps build a brand image.

In short, UX writing is about two-way communication and is aimed at assisting users and guiding them towards user goals. While copywriting is used mainly in marketing, is more of one-way communication, and centers around company goals (i.e. to sell a certain product or service).

What is microcopy, though?

We’ve already mentioned the microcopy above so let’s talk about it in more detail. Microcopy includes small bits of copy that help users reach their goals and interact with a software product. Examples of microcopy are:

  • Pop-up messages;
  • Placeholders;
  • CTA text;
  • Buttons;
  • Error messages and success messages;
  • Help text;
  • Hint text and instructions;
  • Loading screen messages.

Basically, all content on an interface is microcopy and counts as UX writing. And even though some people underestimate its importance, even two words in a pop-up message can make a huge impact on conversions.

Main benefits of UX writing

It often happens that business owners overlook the importance of UX writing or they think that a UX/UI designer can do both. As well, UX writing often gets dissolved in an overall UX/UI design process and does not get the attention it deserves.

However, it is important to recognize the benefits that UX writing brings and the reasons why it’s so important for user experience. Let’s look at the major ones below.

Better user interaction and navigation

One of the core goals of UX writing is driving users toward their goals – hence, UX writing contributes to creating frictionless navigation through the software product. As well, since UX writing promotes two-way communication, it engages users in interaction with the product. This, in turn, increases the chances for users to complete conversions, boosts loyalty, and creates a positive experience.

Assistance in completing tasks

Even if your application has incredibly smooth navigation and UI, users may still encounter issues or require help in completing certain tasks. In this case, UX copy serves as a helpful assistant that gives a clue on what the user should do and how exactly a certain action is to be performed. An example would be entering an incorrect password format when you encounter an error message and a tip on how to create a strong password.

Increased number of conversions

If users understand what exactly they need to do and how, the chances of them completing a conversion rise significantly. A well-crafted UX copy does exactly that and hence, contributes to increased conversion and as a result, increased revenue for your company.

Establishment of a relationship with users

UX writing always feels more “human” and natural than marketing copy because UX copy is here to assist and actually talk to users. Good UX copy can invoke positive emotions in users. For example, when a page takes too long to load and the microcopy states “Sorry it’s taking so long, thank you for staying”, it emphasizes the user and shows that app developers actually care about user experience. Such little things greatly contribute to increasing trust from the users’ side and help them form a strong relationship with the brand.

The core principles of crafting a convincing UX copy

As you can see, UX writing is your number one helper when it comes to talking to users and engaging them in action. And while it’s best to assign a skilled UX writer to create microcopy for your product, you might need to create certain chunks of content on your own – below you’ll find a few best practices. But before looking at them in detail, first, let’s see the key indicators of good UX content:

  • Clear: the text is easy for understanding;
  • Concise: remember that it’s called microcopy for a reason;
  • Consistent: the text should retain the same tone and mood throughout the interface;
  • Actionable: the text should promote action and assist users;
  • Empathetic: the text should resonate with the user’s mood and state of mind.

Whenever you want to make sure your UX copy is effective, we advise going through this checklist and seeing whether all points are applicable. And now let’s see what you can do to make your UX copy shine.

Always provide context

One of the primary goals of good UX copy is assisting users and turning their negative experience (i.e. an error message upon incorrect task completion) into a positive one. What might level up your UX writing game is providing context and explaining what’s going on and how you can help.

An example would be explaining why loading takes so long or how a user can get to another page in case they get stuck. A user should always understand what’s going on and what their next steps might be – and for that, you need to contextualize their user journey.

Write in easy, “human” language

Because you want to initiate a two-way conversation, it’s critical that your UX copy is written in an easy language that resonates with the app’s users. Even the copy for an enterprise application can be simplified and turned into a more conversational one. On the contrary, if your microcopy is not casual enough, users might have difficulty understanding it.

Minimize your microcopy

Remember we talked about UX copy being concise? This means, try minimizing it and seeing whether anything can be cut or removed. For example, you may not notice using synonyms or repeating yourself – but this will make the copy more “massive” and harder to read. 

To make sure users understand what you want them to do, always perform A/B testing of UX copy to make sure you are going with an option that really works.

Summing up

Even though UX writing seems like no big deal, it actually takes more time and effort to create a small copy than a massive one. And since UX copy and UX design are key components of user experience, you need to pay as much attention to UX writing as you do to UX design. For that, you’ll need an experienced UX writer or a copywriter to work alongside your UX/UI team. Otherwise, your brilliant design may take a backseat while users will be stumbling upon massive and dull copy.

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