How to work with a design team as a UX writer
What came first: the design or the copy?
Do you design your products around the text, or do you fill in the empty boxes of a design mock-up? What guides the narrative: the pictures or the words?
There’s no hard and fast rule to this. The truth is that the process of creating the best product is a dance between the two elements. As a result, UX writers need to work intimately with designers to tell the best story — while incorporating product feedback and direction from the client.
Every project is different, and how you work with a designer differs depending on several variables: how much time you have, the personality of the designer, the nature of the project etc.
Ideally, you will have been part of the process of acquiring the project, and should be part of the project kick-off. This should be enough to give you a solid grip of the essence of the product, and guide your copy to solidify the brand voice, while helping the user reach their goals.
Or maybe you weren’t briefed. That happens too. Sometimes you’re thrown into a project with very little idea about what it’s about and who it’s for. In cases like that, you bring your team baked goods in exchange for answers to questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions all day, erryday.
When in the design discovery phase of a project, you should work actively with the designer in mocking up the initial designs. Some ways you can do this:
- Ask for access to their design files (PDF, PSD etc)
- When they have a draft ready, make recommendations where necessary
- Offer yourself as a resource to bounce ideas off of and provide necessary copy (copy that will probably change in the future, which is okay)
- Provide some of your own ideas for design and direction to shape the user’s journey
In addition to this, you should attend as many internal and external design review meetings as possible so you can begin to visualize the path the product will take, and so you can align yourself with the User Experience and User Interface goals.
Don’t think of yourself as only a writer. You hold powerful insight that can shape how the product makes a user feel at an emotional and aesthetic level. Remember, a successful product narrative is the marriage between copy and design, and is brought to life through developmental magic.
And remember: You are awesome. Even when you’re not really sure what you’re doing.
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