What it’s really like to start your first job as a UX writer

Kai Zimmermann
Feb 11 · 5 min read
Ilustration by Garance Bigo

In this article you’ll discover how I experienced the first months as a UX writer at Doctolib, what we achieved in the UX writing team so far and what I learned on the way both professionally and personally.

UX writing, is this something for me?

Do you remember the first time you heard about UX writing? I remember exactly how my previous company hired a UX writer and how I learned what UX writing is about: Designing with words, creating text and helping people understand how to use and interact with digital products.

At that time I worked in a role combining customer service, content management and translation tasks. I’ve always liked to put myself in the place of the user, find the best solution and strike the right tone based on the situation. Writing and working with language always felt right to me. But I knew I hadn’t found the job of my dreams yet.

The more I learned about UX writing the more I knew that this could be something for me. I hoped that this could be the job that I’ve always wanted. When they were looking for a UX writer for the German market at Doctolib this felt like the perfect fit to me: Getting started in UX design and having an impact on a product that’s used by millions of people every day.

I didn’t attend a design school or writing course, so I had to learn everything on the way by reading articles, books and speaking with UX designers. The real learning part, however, started on my first day as UX writer in October 2020.

What it’s like to start as UX writer at Doctolib

My colleague Sophie Ianiro joined the design team as a UX writer over a year ago and already established UX writing structures and processes in our Design System “Oxygen”. So we already had a useful style guide filled with plenty of guidelines helping us to define Doctolib’s voice and write as consistent and user-friendly as possible.

There were guidelines for the French product only, so one of my first projects was to adapt these and create guidelines for the German product. Another project that I initiated is our glossary: A collection of terms that we want to use or don’t want to use, which helps us and the many Doctolibers who write for our website.

Since UX writing is not something everyone knows, one of our missions is to spread the word about UX writing at Doctolib whenever possible. We do this by presenting our work, value and impact at design and product meetings and every time we work with a feature team.

A very important project in the beginning was to look at the existing product copy, collect my improvements and present these to developers and product managers. The improvements could be quick fixes if there’s only one word to be replaced; or long-term fixes if the design is affected and needs to be changed as well.

Our Design System “Oxygen”

I like how UX writing is not dedicated to one single feature. We’re working on different features and have a great overview of the product. I get to know the product better and better and will hopefully know every single notification soon. I like helping other teams such as the marketing and customer support teams create useful and user-centered text.

What I learned being a UX writer

I learned that UX writing is not only to help our team by finding the best words. It’s about showing our value as UX writers and ensuring that everyone knows about the impact of our work and how it can help the team. We need to find the right way to interact with team mates, build processes and build relationships.

I learned how to work and interact not only with designers but also with developers and engineers. Sitting at a table with developers and product managers is one of the moments when I realize that I’m part of the design team now, looking at our work from a user perspective.

It’s not about writing the most beautiful piece of text in the world. Sometimes it means to not use any words at all if an icon works better. Putting your ego aside means to put the user first, so it’s fine for me if a developer’s wording idea is better than my idea because in the end it’s all about helping the user.

It has taken some time to feel comfortable with what we’re doing and I’m not a pushy person at all. But what I’ve learned is to be pushy at the right time. As UX writer it’s important to be included in the right way to have an impact on the product. Not everyone is aware of the impact of UX writing. So I need to send messages to people and ask them about their opinion on replacing a specific wording, or if I could be included in this feature team meeting, because I think it’s important that I’m in it. Luckily, Doctolibers are incredibly nice, open and helpful, and everyone’s happy to include me.

I learned to feel comfortable raising my hand and being someone in the spotlight, for example speaking in front of a big group of people during all hands presentations or global product meetings. As UX writers we need to speak up. I found out that it’s good practice and rewarding. I’m looking forward to these moments now.

We don’t need to know everything, or have a design school degree, but we have to be curious, passionate and eager to learn. That’s what I like about our collaboration in the UX writing team at Doctolib: We’re constantly learning together, finding out how things work, exchanging and helping each other to understand, write better text and improve the user experience.

I’m joining the UX writing world in exciting times where writers take over an important role in the product team. Nobody really knows where we’re going, or says “this is the way we have to do it”. There are lots of books, tools and other resources that show best practices or how you can do it. It’s exciting how we’re all still learning and finding out how it works. UX writing evolves fast at Doctolib and it’s open to everyone passionate and motivated. Everyone can learn it. What’s most important is that you love what you do.

Doctolib

Improving Healthcare for Good

Doctolib

Founded in 2013, Doctolib is the fastest growing e-health service in Europe. We provide healthcare professionals with services to improve the efficiency of their organization, transform their patients’ experience, and strengthen cooperation with other practitioners. We help pati

Kai Zimmermann

Written by

UX Writer @ Doctolib

Doctolib

Founded in 2013, Doctolib is the fastest growing e-health service in Europe. We provide healthcare professionals with services to improve the efficiency of their organization, transform their patients’ experience, and strengthen cooperation with other practitioners. We help pati

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store