The importance of UX Writing from earlier stages of the product design process

One cannot not communicate. That’s my favorite of the five communication axioms. I like it not just because of the way is written but of course because of its meaning. We are communicating all the time. Even if we think we aren’t. No communication is also communication. That means we, as humans, communicate not just with words but with the tone of voice, silence, expressions, body, and all kind of non-verbal aspects. But products also communicate not just words, but also through images, pictures, icons, colors, tone, white space, etc.

In both cases, the most common way and most visible way of communication are words. Words matter. A lot. That’s why this post is about the importance of UX Writing during the product design process.

UX Writing is about making sure that the user experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. UX Writes have a huge task: to create copy that is useful, easy to understand, and helpful. The goal is to help users complete tasks and make them feel comfortable while using an app or website.

Imagine using an app without any copy:

  

Ok, the first screen you know it’s Facebook and, maybe, you are used to it and can read it better, but the second one?

Have you ever had that feeling after clicking a button that you aren’t sure if you are already paid for something or if you still have a chance to edit some field? UX writers’ job is to avoid that feeling.  Have you ever had that feeling of relief after reading some sentence like “Don’t worry. We won’t charge you yet”? Cool. That’s the idea. To help you and make your experience a good one.

A few weeks ago, a friend was using Google Translate and an error occurred. She felt confused and was wondering “what does ‘error code: -50’ mean? ‘Ok’ what? Can’t I translate the sentence or what should I do?” I’ve tried a new error message.

Flink has some problems with the description of the categories. Can you find the “e” of “Milchprodukte”?

I also think the prices should be more visible, maybe before the description. I feel there is no hierarchy hier. What do you think?

For that reason, I’m the kind of designer that truly believes UX writing should be considered from the initial stages of the design process. Why? Some people focus on icons and layout and place lorem ipsum text. I have worked with clients that had different words to describe the same thing and were so complicated for everyone on the team to understand every time we were working on that flow. I also have worked for a company that just wanted a nice layout and didn’t care about copy until it was too late, we had to redesign some parts of the product again.

Including UX writing from the very beginning is, in my opinion, mandatory because:

  • content is part of the product. Again, the axiom.
  • copy and icons/pictures are complementary, sometimes you need both or sometimes not, as we see on the screens above.
  • if you already have a defined tone of voice and content guidelines, the design would be much easier to create for everyone. Every person on the team speaks the same language.
  • make the design process simpler. No need to think about words and replace lorem ipsum placeholder. Also, don’t you want to test the copy too?
  • copy can make or break the UX, a nice UI with the wrong writing could lead to confusion or bad experiences (same with great copy and poor UI).
  • don’t forget multilingual products. Do you have your app or website available for different languages? Real copy helps to avoid spacing issues and maintain consistency.

I could include more examples and more reasons, but I like to keep it simple and short: embrace UX Writing from earlier stages of the product design process 🙂

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