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How I work as a UX writer

Shawn Roe
Shawn Roe
Dec 7, 2018 · 9 min read

I save you time and money by making your life easier!

That’s it? You just write words? You’re the words guy?

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Job listings for UX writers at Capital One (Dec 2018). Check out current open roles.

1. Start with relationships

When she first hired me, my mentor said, “Build relationships with all your partners and meet as many people as you can.” So, that’s what I did. I had one-on-ones with all the designers in my lane, the product managers, the business analysts, the marketing team, the research team, legal, compliance, the interns, and the directors.

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Karaoke runner-up: King of the Bank. In this photo are directors, interns, managers, associates, and our VP.

2. Give ’em what they want

After you’ve gotten to know your partners, you can start to have an idea of their motivation. What do they want? What is their success measured by? If you understand people’s motivations, you can align yourself with them and help them get what they want.

3. Bring the customer’s perspective

As a UX writer, everything you write should be with the customer in mind. Understand the audience you’re writing for, and never, ever, forget them. When somebody asks me how to write a better experience, I start with questions. How did the customer get here? What are they trying to do? The truth is, the people I work with often have a better understanding of the customer than I do. It’s my job to remind them of the customer’s perspective.

4. Ask simple questions

There usually aren’t enough UX writers to write all the words for all of the experiences. Writing is everybody’s job. A great UX writer can help educate the team by asking simple questions.

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Your grandma doesn’t know anything about the data she entered (left), but she knows what to do when you tell her to try a different username or password (right).

5. Ask tough questions

Bringing the customer’s perspective and always advocating for a simpler, more intuitive experience sometimes means you’ll have to ask the tough questions. Should we be doing this at all? Why are we asking for that information if we don’t need it? Are we just trying to make more money here, or is this good for the customer, too?

6. Design with data

Design differs from art in that design solves problems. It’s hard to know what problem to solve if you don’t have data. And you’ll only know if you’re solving the problem better by having data that proves so.

Table showing the design that reordered the questions improved the conversion rate.
Table showing the design that reordered the questions improved the conversion rate.
Making it “prettier” hurt the conversion rate, while reordering the questions based on research and data improved the rate.

Go forth and conquer

Now you know how I work as a UX writer. And if you’ve been paying attention — it’s no different from how anybody should work. The principles that guide how I work apply to almost every job. No matter what your role, you’d do well to:

  1. Give ’em what they want
  2. Bring the customer’s perspective
  3. Ask simple questions
  4. Ask tough questions
  5. Design with data

One Design Community

Stories from Capital One's designers on how using humanity…

Shawn Roe

Written by

Shawn Roe

Father, husband, and UX Content Strategist. I seek to inspire through simplicity.

One Design Community

Stories from Capital One's designers on how using humanity, simplicity, and ingenuity can empower people to have better control over their money.

Shawn Roe

Written by

Shawn Roe

Father, husband, and UX Content Strategist. I seek to inspire through simplicity.

One Design Community

Stories from Capital One's designers on how using humanity, simplicity, and ingenuity can empower people to have better control over their money.

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