How to irritate a UX writer

Jürgen Zimmermann
Jun 23 · 3 min read

‘The screen looks kinda empty. Can we add some more copy?’

Ah, you’d like to add words to fill your unintended white space? Let’s start with ‘No’ and ‘Never’.

‘It’s just… well… can we make this copy more punchy?’

Also known as ‘make it pop’ in UI design circles. Commonly uttered by people who have nothing useful to add to a review.

‘Keyword stuffing isn’t a big deal. Everybody does it.’

Papa Google can see what you’re doing. Stop it, or you’ll go blind. Seriously, what year are you from?

‘This is a copy problem, not a design problem.’

No. Copy is part of design, so it’s everybody’s problem.

‘This is a design problem, not a copy problem.’

See above.

‘What’s the character limit for this component?’

There isn’t really such a thing. Three characters could be WWW or iii. Rather ask ‘Up to how many lines should this copy be?’ The answer is usually two.

‘Could you repurpose this copy for me?’

If you’re using words like that, I’ll probably have to.

‘Maybe we could turn this CTA into a marketing opportunity…’

Sit down. Let me tell you about patterns. I’ll also explain software life cycles vs marketing campaign life cycles. May I demonstrate aggravated assault too?

‘Conversational copy is somehow better!’

Absolutely. How about we put it into speech bubbles that are farted out by a little paperclip?

‘Let’s make this copy more positive with an exclamation mark!’

Or, we could not act like grinning psychos and rewrite the copy to be more positive.

‘We just need a quick check, not a critique or review.’

I very much doubt that’s all you need.

‘I love design, but I’m not into gaming.’

That’s like saying you love words but are not into reading. Please go over there. Yes. Further. Keep going…

‘Good day, I’m from Legal. See attached some required additions.’

Thanks for this. See attached my blistered, ravaged soul.

‘Hey can you do the words pls? See screenshot thx!

I have zero context and I can’t be bothered opening your 58 MB bmp, so I guess I’m done here. Thx.

‘Oh, I thought that title case and all caps are the same thing.’

Yes, to a certain group of people they are.

‘Can you write the copy while we decide what we need?’

I could do that. Or, I could write some copy — and you do whatever it says.

‘This idea is important. We should capitalise it.’

An excellent Idea. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

‘With copy, less is more! Am I right? Yeah?’

No. We’ll write as much copy as is necessary, that’s all. There is no ‘less is more’. Now stop trying to relate.

‘A writer must to be present and on standby for this offsite team.’

Skype, Hangouts, WhatsApp, Slack, email, flares, birds, divination, seances, mirrors. The possibilities are endless. Let’s explore them together.

‘1 in 30 users didn’t understand this copy. Please rewrite?’

Hm, no. People learn. They adapt. This is called being ‘alive’. Most users are presently in this state. The rest are dead or stupid.

‘Hi. So what’s a verb?’

‘I am going to ______ your head with a hammer.’ The missing word is a verb. Let’s meet when you’re ready.

‘It’s just a prototype, so lorem ipsum will do for now.’

I can’t even…

‘Content is king! \IiI/’

Oh, shut up.

I could go on, but that would make me appear irritable.

Anybody have any more to share? Call it a morbid interest in other writers’ miseries…

Jürgen Zimmermann

Written by

> Word worrier & SF writer