When speaking about a digital product or a website, we’re mostly focused on design by describing it as something visually attractive and easy to use. But there is something invisible and crucial that we tend to underestimate: content.
To realize the importance of words on a digital product, take a product like Doctolib, and visualize it without content. It’s pretty easy to see how critical content is to the design.
Here we are. Now, imagine booking an appointment at Doctolib with your practitioner without any text, just a bunch of shapes and components. Really not convincing, right?
Content is an integral part of the design. It makes flows simpler, actions clearer, and choices easier. It also reduces complexity and makes sure nobody gets lost or confused. Content makes products human. That’s one of the main pillars of every Doctolib product.
Naturally, a new design role is emerging and, a year ago, I joined Doctolib as the first UX Writer in the Product Design team. And now, we are 3! Let’s start with a quick introduction about UX Writing and what we do as UX Writers.
What’s UX Writing?
The term may be new but the process has existed for a while at Doctolib. It has been around as long as Product Design exists. UX writing is the practice of crafting copy which is directly used in user interfaces to guide users within a product and help them interact with it. The major goal of UX writing is to settle communication between users and a digital product.
As UX writers, our role is to craft this content.
Our goal is to help users understand the “why” and “how” at each step of their task. If a product is confusing, it can generate frustration. Frustration is anything that makes tasks harder or users feel confused and less likely to continue using the product.
Words have the power to make or break the experience and shape people’s perception of your product.
Content created by UX writers is included in the design. To be more specific, content includes call-to-action, error messages, menu copy, alert banner, pop-in, etc. But we do more than writing microcopy and product content. We add value to the experience that will improve their daily lives. With the help of content, we guide the user through the digital experience in an intuitive way.
You get it, we don’t spend the entire day writing microcopy. To provide the best user experience, we’re building different tools (like a glossary or Design System) to make sure we have a consistent and homogenous product. If you want to know more about our guidelines, for example how we use neutral language, take a look at our Design System Oxygen.
Content makes design go round
As the copy is an integral part of the user interface, I believe it should support the same philosophy as any other part of a product: everything has to be functional and purposeful. Everything should work for the user.
All the content we’re creating needs to be clear and consistent so that users don’t have to figure out what we mean. They have to interact with the product intuitively. If they don’t notice that they’ve been guided, then we’ve done our job.
Now, try to change the language of your phone into an unknown foreign language: Content should not just be there, it should have a meaning for the user.
To improve the user experience, here are some key principles of UX Writing:
- Clarity: All the content in the product interface should be as clear, simple, and straightforward as possible. This is the main way to support users to complete their tasks and reduce errors.
- Context: Language mirrors the emotions users might be feeling. We don’t try to be funny when the user is facing an error message for example.
- Concise: In other words, keep your content scannable. People read differently on the web. Let’s be honest, we all tend to skim and scan rather than reading every single word.
- Consistent: It’s about maintaining a consistent tone and voice throughout the entire user experience. But it also refers to grammar and writing style, the content on the product is following the same guidelines.
- Conversational: Behind the product or the interface, there are humans writing for other humans. As UX Writers, our focus is to design conversations that solve user problems.
The conclusion is that good content helps the product stand out. UX writing made its way into the heart of the design process. We help to make the user experience intuitive and delightful, whether with little words or on a deeper level by creating the product design architecture to solve user problems.
👉 If you want to discover what it’s really like to start your first job as a UX writer.