5 Things I’ve Learned About UX Writing in 2018

Since January, I’ve been collecting UX jobs in a file on my phone called “UX Writer Jobs”.

Since the end of last month, I’ve been posting these to a small group of people on my email newsletter.

UX Writing as a field is an interesting one to track.

For the last five years, my day job has given me an overview of how the UX discipline is constantly changing.

For a long time, the rhetoric was “every designer needs to code”. In the last few years that’s changed. Now “every programmer is also ux designer”. Everyone has an opinion and it’s hard to cut through the noise.

One thing has remained consistent though. The power of words in UX. And for a long time it’s been underserved. I’ve seen a lot of ‘copywriter’ and ‘content marketer’ roles lumped with also writing UX website copy.

Still, it’s a new term within UX and so it hasn’t been properly defined. There is a lot of different perspectives on what makes a ‘ux writer’. Part of the motivation for starting my email list is to track the evolution of a new discipline within UX.

Here are some trends I’ve seen over the last few months:

  1. UX Writing is a distinct discipline from ‘Copywriting’
  • “Copywriters have always had Always Be Converting running through their brains as they put pen to paper, but writing for products requires another set of ABCs: Always Be Constructive.” via Ryan Cordell

2. Entry into the field is still undefined

  • There is no formal route into the discipline. Most senior UX Writers are coming from either technical writing, copywriting or more traditional UX Design roles and self-teaching themselves based on experience. There’s an opportunity for someone to build a good course here!
  • If you’re looking to make the move, treat it like a liberal arts degree. You need to know about elementary HCI theory, copywriting (and the psychology behind selling), and have a strong UX background.
  • Looking to get started as a UX Writer? This is a good resource for getting started. As is this one.

3. UX Writing doesn’t always need to be funny

4. The tools still don’t matter

  • “Tools are just tools. And they will change a handful of times every year. At some point in my career, spending energy writing about every new design tool that came out started to feel too tactical. There will always be other sites that do a better job at covering those.” via Flavio Vallone.
  • The best writers are not UX Designers. But all UX Writers need to be UX Designers. via Juli Herren. See also Rachel McConnell.

5. We’re just getting started

  • “The opportunities for UX writing in the tech industry are only just beginning to take off. The idea of writing as a skill on par with design and development is still gaining momentum, and more companies are starting to understand its value.” via Yuval Keshtcher
  • UX jobs have started to not feature the words ‘content’ and ‘content strategy’ as companies define UX Writer as a specific role separate from a generalist UX Designer. Writing + copy is definitely becoming more of a core component in more defined UX teams.

Further Reading

Here are the best book recommendations on Content Strategy. via Kristina Halvorson.

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