UX Writing: Side Effects May Vary

How UX writing changes you in surprising ways

Tanya Grant
Jun 6 · 5 min read

You’ll think about design all the time

At its heart, UX writing is a design discipline. It’s all about improving everyday experiences — making products and processes easier to use and understand. As writers, we help ease frustration and hassles to make customer experiences more enjoyable. But that also means that you’ll start to notice and critique design everywhere, not just in your products. Door handles, streaming services, even cafeteria lines — everything is fair game. Which leads to the next side effect…

You’ll have less patience for poor design

Unfortunately, good design is seamless and almost unnoticeable, while problematic design draws attention. Because your brain is now wired to think about how to improve interactions in products, the frustrating ones become more irritating, especially when you can identify an easy fix.

Your new motto will be “Words matter”

Words do matter. We learn this lesson as children, and we carry it throughout our lives. Words have the power to energize populations, to clarify confusing situations, and to comfort when someone needs empathy. Words are an integral part of a product’s design, the design process isn’t complete without them. As a UX writer, though, your attention to detail becomes more granular, and your newfound reverence for the right word at the right moment will lead you on a continual quest to improve the way you write and speak. Of course, “words matter” has its downfall — especially when it’s 3 AM and you’re thinking about everything you could have said better that day. Whoops.

You’ll learn to ask more questions

Though it’s counterintuitive, your job as a writer isn’t to have all the answers all the time. Instead it’s to be the voice of your customer and to ask questions that expose pain points and challenge common assumptions. This ensures you’re addressing real problems that impact your customers, not just creating products for the sake of creating them. Drilling deep to find the root cause of a problem will become second nature and will help you design more streamlined experiences.

You’ll Notice Inconsistent Title and Sentence Casing ALL the Time

In UX writing, every part of the final experience is important, from the words you use to the style you apply to them. To deliver a cohesive experience for your customers, you’ll need to stay consistent in whichever style you pick, whether that means title casing or sentence casing your text. When you see a mix of styles out in the wild, warning lights might start flashing in your mind. And though you can’t fix everyone else’s products, you should keep your style consistent so your customers know what to expect.

You’ll take lots of pictures of weird, confusing, or complex signs

Because words and grammar matter, when a sign rubs you the wrong way, you’ll note it for field research and to show your colleagues. That vague reference to the Person in Charge in the women’s restroom? Snapped for posterity. This Out of Order sign? Pics or it didn’t happen. Because, what exactly is out of order here? The wall? You’ll have the urge to rewrite even the most mundane signs, and to this I say, I feel you.


Microsoft Design

Putting technology on a more human path, one design story at a time.

Thanks to Joline Tang.

Tanya Grant

Written by

Cake enthusiast. Writer at Microsoft. Views are my own.

Microsoft Design

Putting technology on a more human path, one design story at a time.