Getting Hired as a UX Writer
Designing a UX Writing portfolio that invites attention because it is personalized for your work experience.
(Note: I am not sharing any examples of a winning UX Writing portfolio. My focus is on the thought-process of how to work on the portfolio and the portfolio as a finished product might shape up differently for UX Writers.)
UX Writing is what the audience sees on the interface. Designing a UX Writing portfolio does not sound challenging enough because sharing interface images as work examples is one of the easier ways to share your experience.
Take an example where a product user wants to downgrade their subscription plan. They select an option to downgrade their plan, and they see the following.
“If you downgrade your [product] plan now, the changes will appear at the end of your current billing cycle. Enjoy the benefits of the current plan until then. We are happy to answer your questions if you change your mind and want to retain the current plan.”
Sounds easy enough?
Before we discuss the challenges involved in writing the interface content, let’s have a quick look at what UX Writing includes.
- Product onboarding content
- Validation alerts or confirmation messages
- Forms usability text and instructions (specifically for the address information, for inclusion, or for payment details)
- Interface content that appears in the context of specific user actions — to help them decide for the next steps
- Content that serves the organization’s goals as well, without being intrusive in the users’ interactions. For example, to advise them to upgrade to a higher plan if their current lower plan does not allow what they are trying to do.
What you do
Your work is more about why do you write in a certain way, and who stops you or who lets you use those words, and why.
If you are working on a UX Writing portfolio to find a new job, the hiring managers may not hire you for the words-on-interface skills as there are tonnes of articles around that guide us on writing the error messages and on using Sign up and not SignUp.
They are more likely to hire you for how you work, and how you bring more value and meaning to the way products are shipped in their organization.
UX Writing takes the customer journey forward
UX Writers take over the customer journey from the pre-sales content, from a landing page, a newsletter CTA, or from the word of mouth branded content.
So, the customer journey is already set up in the brand voice before the users sign up for the product. Remember, their motivation is punctuated with choices and distractions.
While using the product, the customers may interact with the support content, find a product webinar on LinkedIn, or talk to the sales teams to upgrade their subscription. All this content is an extension to the UX Writing.
The UX content falls somewhere in the middle of the customer journey.
Before ‘Before and after’
Sharing your stories for before-and-after-interface is one face of your work. Share the why and how of your work. Nobody knows about your product, so a story around ‘before-and-after’ has to be process-centric or outcome-centric.
While talking about a project experience, you can include a quick reference to at least a few of the following.
Vocabulary and voice
What words define the brand’s relationship with the customers? What is the brand narrative and how you help the product narrative to translate into the customer experience?
How you decide what words to use — do you have a design system or style guide for reference? Or did you volunteer to contribute to it if it did not exist?
Did you speak to the leaders in other functions, for example, to map how the marketers’ version of the customer journey translates into the product?
How do you track the customer touchpoints before they sign up, for what is the product promise in sales content? How do you draw the language maps to align the customer success goals with the organization’s goals?
Customer success on the interface
How do you refer to, or be a part of framing the user stories (or job stories or intent stories, or interface stories) for the customers’ expectations on an interface?
Do you remember the days or meetings when you proposed content for the first couple of screens? Who nodded immediately to go ahead, and who raised a new JIRA issue?
How your team evaluates your work and do you have any framework to measure your own goals in the project?
To build on this momentum, add more context for how the organization gains from your work. For example:
- How do you map the customers’ account activity or the churn to the onboarding, and how words play or might have played a better role there? Is it about persuasion, value, context, timeliness?
- Were there any little trade-offs? Did you document how these might hurt the product at a later stage, and who and how they might handle it? In either case, were the design standards at stake or the org goals were at stake?
- What was systematic about your approach, if it is?
- Did you plan how the message will scale when the product will scale?
- Was there a moment when you enjoyed a really good coffee because you were told that you did a fantastic job? Or, a specific instance that drove you mad for a minute?
While looking for a new position, you are trying to make a space for you in an organization’s product team. Your portfolio helps the hiring managers create that space for you.
They hire you for how you work, and not for your words.
UX Writers are central to steer the product narrative-driven conversations with the users.
The assurance in the words on the product interface and the intent to educate the users is the bottom line. Not easy enough.
If your work shows that you won, talk about how you won.