4 steps to make your designs more equitable.

Broken clay shards on the ground, black and white. Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash
Broken clay shards on the ground, black and white. Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash
Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

By now it’s a truism that everything around us is designed. Our streets, our parks, our products, our political systems. Our institutions. Design can be a pure reflection of society, or a force that reshapes it toward our desired ends. Sometimes it’s both. Nothing we create is in a vacuum. It all comes from somewhere, and is sure to make weird, uncontrollable ripples. We’ll never be in full control.

These days, my brain’s working constantly on the problem of inequality in hiring. It feels like an intractable, impossible problem. The statistical snubs you’ll encounter if your name is too black

A hand writing in a notebook, with a latte in the foreground.
A hand writing in a notebook, with a latte in the foreground.

A lot of folks have asked me lately about switching careers into UX writing. I love helping others discover this completely badass life path, but at this point I need to save myself some time. Hence, this blog post.

Not 100% sure what UX writing is? You’re not alone. You might begin with this article.

My career trajectory (in a nutshell)

My career transformation from medical receptionist to UX writer at a big tech company took about 3 years. Hopefully with a handy guide like this one, it doesn’t have to take you that long.

Remember: we are all making it up as we go along…

Illustrating a tragic design problem, with comedy.

This design flaw wouldn’t make everybody laugh.

A few years back Tig Notaro did an iconic comedy set at Largo in LA. Just the week after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she got onstage and talked about her diagnosis. It was raw, it was real, it was funny, and the audience wasn’t sure how to handle it.

There’s nervous laughter. There are moans of discomfort, that Tig addresses straight on.

With humor the equation is tragedy + time = comedy. I am just at tragedy…

Guys, relax. Everything’s fine. I have cancer.

The set only got more brutally funny from there. She had just been…

I hear often that my brand has a lot of personality (WHY THANK YOU).

But frankly, my personality is a big part of the reason I went into business for myself. I have a Big Personality. I am A Character. (Theatre major! Sorrynotsorry!) I’m also an advocate, for myself and others.

This can be tough in a corporate environment, where being a “team player” (AKA soulless yes-woman) is valued more highly than thinking creatively and speaking out. TRUE FACT: being good at what you do won’t get you ahead in most workplaces. Being obedient will. Ugh.

I hate obedient people.

My goal is to…

Are you this rare breed of writer?

Photo by Jason Hafso on Unsplash

Do you ever feel like a different species of writer?

Does jargon make you hiss?

Does your hair stand on end when you see an unclear, confusing web interface?

Have you ever thrown your laptop across the room while navigating a government website?

You might be a very dangerous animal—a user experience (UX) writer.

The UX writer is an elusive creature, found in the wild at tech companies large and small. We deal with words in context. We help users get where they’re going. You’ll often find us living symbiotically alongside product designers, user researchers, and product managers.

Image from giphy.com

In short, we make the internet a friendlier place to be. But don’t be fooled. We may look cute, but…

Let’s get this cleared up.

Photo by Josh Nuttall on Unsplash

To my chagrin, I’m back on Facebook.

Today I noticed a friend shared this article about an unconventional (but very smart!) piece of bicycle safety equipment—a pool noodle. Here’s his commentary:

listen, if you bike on roads without a bike lane, you’re a menace. you don’t need a pool noodle, you need to be arrested. don’t do it. it’s bad enough some of us have lengthy commutes. please do not make it worse by randomly making poor drivers swerve into my lane.

Hm. Hot take.

I personally LOVE the pool noodle idea. I love it because it’s harmless (if a…

Other companies—look out. This is a serious differentiator.

I’m sending out my resume a lot these days, looking for my next favorite client or full-time gig (oxymoron? maybe).

Applying for work is famously user unfriendly. You’ve been there. You upload your resume, then SURPRISE! You’ve got to fill in all that information again. As if it weren’t contained in your resume. It’s like a test to see who can jump through the most meaningless hoops successfully. Is that really a great measure of a candidate?

Luckily, I’ve got a reprieve. Since I’m applying only to fantastic, design-driven companies, most of them score very high on job application ease…

Why unreadable content is the literal worst, and what to do about it.

Y’all. I’ve got something stuck in my craw.

Unreadable content. It’s everywhere and it’s out of control, especially in the B2B space.

Just Google “consulting” and you’ll see what I mean. Sorry FTI Consulting Capital Markets Communications, but you invested in paid search and now you’re my example.

FTI Consulting Capital Markets Communications professionals serve as trusted advisors to board of directors and management teams at companies of all sizes and at every stage of growth . Our teams consist of senior-level investor relations counselors armed with sector, financial research and digital expertise in every major financial market in the…

Why hating on this punctuation hero is an affront to women, job seekers, and all nice people.

!!!!!! YEAH !!!!!!

In an online writer’s group I saw a call for opinions. It read simply,

Editors and hiring managers: thoughts on exclamation points in cover letters?

I was gobsmacked by the feedback. Below this simple question sat a unanimous string of derision, 15 comments long (and growing).

Hell no.
Maybe 1 at most.

And perhaps the most unintentionally ironic thing I’ve ever seen,


One editor even proudly admitted that she throws out any cover letter with an exclamation point. Yeah—without even bothering to read it.

“Shit,” I thought. “I was right to be afraid.”

Why this gets me riled up!

Like many women, I use…

Katherine Karaus

UX Writer @ LinkedIn📱| I help tech companies tell crystal-clear product stories.💎 | Cat mom. 🐱| Outspoken woman. 🧙‍♀️

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