The pros and cons of editing strings in your product.

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Illustration by Amber Padilla

Bugs, bugs, bugs. During my time as a UX writer, I’ve come across a ton of bugs in the products I work on. And yes, many of those bugs happen to be text bugs. A typo here, some confusing copy there, inconsistencies everywhere. What’s a writer to do?

Earlier in my career, I would create bug reports for those text bugs and then send them to developers. I’d feel proud, knowing I’m doing my part to improve the user experience. “I’m rewriting this error message for our users!” I’d tell myself.

But after sending those bug reports, I’d wait. And wait. And wait. And a lot of times, those bugs would get deprioritized or forgotten. Over time, I realized that sending bug reports for tiny text issues wasn’t worth the hassle. …


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Art by Justin Tran

And keep your team happy

If you’ve ever worked on a small team with limited resources, you’ve probably felt it — that scrappy spirit. That itch that gets you going when the going gets tough. That burst of motivation when they say you aren’t good enough.

Time and time again, I’ve seen how amazing things happen when you tap into that feeling of scrappiness. But how do you keep that scrappy spirit as your team gets bigger?

A few months ago, I joined the Dropbox Paper team. By that time, the team had already grown to a pretty big size. I still remember my first team meeting and thinking we could probably fill a whole movie theater. …


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Illustration by Fanny Luor

When you think about design, the word “documentation” probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But documentation is a key part of the design process for many teams.

In a casual Twitter poll, 1 in 3 product designers said they spend at least 25% of their time reviewing or writing documentation. The funny thing is, many design classes don’t even talk about documentation.

Yeah, I know a document isn’t as sexy as an interactive prototype, but a design doc is where ideas can grow quickly. It’s where thoughts morph into words, and words blossom into solutions.

When done well, a good design doc…


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Illustration by Curt Rice

How metaphors can make or break your designs

If you’ve ever taken a writing class, you’ve probably played around with metaphors. A metaphor is when you talk about one thing in terms of another:

  • Time is money
  • Consumed by love
  • The sweet smell of success

A lot of people think of metaphors as a fancy writing tactic—a way to spice things up or sound more poetic.

Well, knock that idea out of your head, because metaphors aren’t just for poets. Metaphors are for everyone. They’re baked into our language, and we can’t communicate without them.

In the design world, we depend on metaphors all the time. From the icons we use, to the terms we choose, metaphors show up everywhere in design. …


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Illustration by Justin Tran

What I learned from reading thousands of app reviews

I recently read thousands of reviews about our Dropbox app. Call me crazy, but it was the most riveting thing I’ve read all year. I laughed, I cried, I got warm fuzzies inside.

Why in the world would anyone read so many app reviews? Well, I was on a mission. I wanted to learn more about our users and what they thought about our product.

Yes, we run user studies at Dropbox, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to hear from people across the globe. I wanted to read their actual words — tirades, triumphs, and all.

Looking back at this experience, I have to say it was incredibly humbling. I learned new things about our users that I never would’ve learned otherwise. …


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Fake conversations, real situations

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to chat with UX writers from a bunch of different companies. Even though we work on completely different products, we face shockingly similar challenges.

Below is my attempt at capturing a few of the challenges we face as UX writers. None of these conversations are real, but they’re all based on real-life situations.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a UX writer, here’s a little preview.

1. “I just need one word”

Designer: “Hey, I need to come up with a label for this button. Can you help me out?”

Writer: “Sure. …


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Photo by Lauren Peng

How to tell if your writing is any good

How many words do you see in a single day? Believe it or not, studies have shown that a typical social media user sees about 54,000 words a day.

Heck, that’s more words than you’d find in a book! For example, Fight Club, one of my favorite novels, weighs in at a mere 49,962 words.

With so many words fighting for attention, good writing is more important than ever. Anyone can create crappy content. To stand out from the crowd, you need to create top-notch content.

But how can you tell if your writing is any good? Well, that’s where testing comes into play. Testing helps you see how your words resonate with readers—before you hit that scary Publish button. …


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Writers + Designers = A match made in heaven

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about writing in design. Whether you call it UX writing, product writing, or content design, it’s clear that the words in your design matter.

In his 2017 Design in Tech talk, John Maeda spelled it out for us: “Words are really important because the graphics don’t make sense sometimes.” Fast Co Design followed up with a piece called “Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s Unicorn Skill.”

Sounds simple, right? To be a great designer, you need to know how to write. No biggie. You write all the time. …


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(Photo by Nina Strehl)

Delight is in the details

When I think about the products I love, they all have one thing in common: delightful little details.

There’s this coffee shop I visit almost every day. Whenever I order a drink, they always add a little artwork on top. It might be a fancy leaf one day, a swirly swan the next. These foamy figures don’t make the drink taste any better, but they do make me smile.

This delightful detail shows that they put a lot of love into what they’re making. …


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A parody about designer trends

Bad designers use green on purple. Good designers use grey on grey.

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Bad designers use fancy words. Good designers use no words.

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Bad designers like hamburger menus. Good designers like cafe menus.

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Bad designers use stock photos. Good designers use illustrations.

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Bad designers use Fireworks. Good designers use toilet paper.

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Bad designers love Comic Sans. Good designers love comics.

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Bad designers decorate websites. Good designers decorate beards.

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Bad designers say “JIF.” Good designers say “GIF” — like a “gift.”

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Bad designers use a lot of Post-Its. Actually, so do good designers.

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Bad designers hate feedback. Good designers love it.

If you have feedback about this story, feel free to leave a comment below. I’ll either love it or hate it. 🙂

Thanks for scrolling and happy Friday!

Credits:

About

John Saito

Design @Dropbox. Always chasing rainbows.

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