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10 Rules You Should Know About UX Writing

As the world turns increasingly digital, demand for Copywriters and content writers is growing rapidly. Whether it’s writing engaging blog posts or persuasive ad copy, digital success relies heavily on the creatively minded people who are capable of turning a single message or vague idea into something that audiences really want to read.  

However, as a leading UX design agency in London, over the past few years we’ve noticed rapidly increasing demand for UX writers. And that’s excellent news. Businesses are beginning to realise that web copy and website content aren’t everything; that writing for user experience is a crucial art and specialist skill that only a few can do.

What is UX Writing?

While content writers create content that informs, educates, entertains, and builds and nurtures relationships, our UX writers create content that enhances the user experience; the experience that audiences have *while* they’re engaging with that informative, educational content. Ultimately, UX writing helps visitors interact with a website or app. 

This sort of content is everywhere, yet it’s something we don’t particularly notice.  In fact, it’s often called ‘microcopy’ due to its small scale. Examples of UX writing include: 

  • ‘Get in touch’ text on your website’s contact page 
  • Your website’s navigation menu 
  • Buttons for downloading whitepapers or resources 
  • Error messages for broken links 

Despite being small, UX content is definitely mighty. Without it, audiences can’t easily navigate their way through the buying journey all the way from awareness to decision.

10 Rules for User Experience Design 

While each UX designer will have their own ways of working, at Focus on Digital we think that there are 10 critical rules that must be followed for UX writing to have a big impact: 

1. Say what you mean

Think about navigation buttons on a website. ‘Products’. ‘Services’. ‘About’. ‘Contact’. They’re all self-explanatory. ‘Other’? Now that’s a problem. Visitors have no clue what they’re going to find. Case studies? Maybe. Testimonials? Perhaps. Cute pictures of bunnies? Could be, for all we know. Visitors don’t want to waste their time on ‘maybes’; they want to be able to clearly see where they need to navigate to. UX writing isn’t a place to get all cryptic. You need to be able to say what you mean, transparently.

2. Make it brief 

We’ve all heard the statistics that say the average visitor only reads 20-30% of copy on a page. And this goes for UX copy, too. They don’t read; they scan. So with UX writing especially, it’s important to try and get out of this ingrained mindset that in order to be clear, we need to be comprehensive. We don’t. We just need to be concise. UX writing should be brief, and straight to the point, with zero filler. It’s not there to be hilarious or detailed; it’s just there to help guide users to the next destination in their journey.

3. Surprise and delight 

Just because UX writing has to be brief, concise, and straight to the point doesn’t mean it has to be dull or boring. UX copy is still copy, after all, and it’s still an opportunity to surprise and delight your visitors, and share your brand personality with your customers. Think about fintech firm Revolut. Instead of letting users ‘order a card’, the app lets them ‘order a shiny new card’. It’s such a small addition that it doesn’t impact the brevity of the text, yet it completely changes how it makes the audience feel.

4. Provide an experience 

UX writing means user experience writing. But here’s a question: what sort of experience do you want them to have? Uber is a really good example of this. When opening the Uber app, users are asked ‘where to?’. They’re not asked to simply ‘enter destination. And that’s not been done by accident. Uber is taking advantage of the fact that they operate within the exciting travel industry to add this element of adventure, providing customers with the experience of going somewhere, rather than just being there.  

5. Be consistent 

Following on from the above, while it’s important to surprise, delight, and provide an experience, it’s also important that all UX writing is consistent across your channels. For example, using disconnected transactional copy (‘enter destination’) on one channel – or in one area of a website – and more personal, familiar copy (‘where to?’) on another can confuse customers. It makes them question the sort of experience they’re supposed to be having. Get creative, but ensure all UX copy aligns with each other.

6. Don’t make readers think 

Thought-provoking blogs? Sure. But the point of UX writing is to get a visitor from *this* place on your website to *this* place on your website. They really don’t want to have to think all that hard about what comes next; they just want to be able to do it. And so a good UX designer will make their copy as natural, familiar, and inherent as possible, facilitating those next steps in a way that feels completely logical to the user. If the copy makes users think about what they have to do to get from A to B, it’s not working. 

7. Use buzzwords 

When writing UX copy, you really only have a small amount of words to play around with to get your message across. But the good news is that you can make message delivery easier by using buzzwords; words that customers expect to see, and which have a huge impact on their experience and how they feel. Think things like ‘free’, ‘cancel any time’, ‘save’, and so on; buzzwords that reduce the risk of taking that next step in the process and encourages users to take action to get to the next destination.  

8. Make it useful 

Content such as blogs can be anything. As discussed earlier, they can be informative, educational, or entertaining. They can also be humorous, lighthearted, controversial, opinionated, serious… they can be absolutely anything. UX writing, however, should really only have one simple, single purpose: to be useful. UX copy needs to guide the user to the next step in the journey in an easy and streamlined way, so it must be useful. You can achieve this through clarity, brevity, and using words that assist and support.

9. It’s OK to think outside the box 

Just like website content, UX content doesn’t have to be 100% text-based. In fact, it’s OK to think outside the box and get truly creative if you’re looking to offer your visitors an experience that’s a little different. A great example is Chrome’s dinosaur game. When a user tries to access a website when there’s no internet connection, instead of getting a boring page that tells them they’re not connected, they’re provided with a chance to play an offline dinosaur game. Content has many forms… it’s not all written!

10. Use it EVERYWHERE 

There’s an almost never ending list of places where UX writing can help to move visitors forward in their journey… so use them to your advantage. There are places you may not have even thought of. For example, if a customer enters their payment details, UX writing can be used to present them with a simple ‘loading’ page while waiting for the transaction to complete, rather than having customers sit there worried that the confirmation page is taking a while to load. It all helps build customer loyalty.  

Make UX Writing Part of Your Content Strategy 

UX writing shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be built right into the core foundations of your content strategy to help guide and support your users during their journey. At Focus on Digital, we’re here to help you do just that. Get in touch for more information.