The ultimate guide to creating stellar UX writing

5 Jan 2023
Harry Jenner

As UX copywriters, we know a thing or two about what should be written on a website to make it easier and more enjoyable to use. That’s the key to creating good UX writing – its basic principles lie with writing from the perspective of the user to improve their experience when navigating your site or app. 

After all, research shows that 88% of people admit they wouldn’t return to a site if they had a negative experience browsing it. What’s more, companies can lose up to 35% of sales because of bad UX writing. These staggering numbers alone show how important it is to get your UX copywriting spot on. 

But what is UX writing and how do you do it well? Well, we have some all-important answers below. We’ll look at the similarities and differences between a UX writer vs. copywriter and also give you some handy tips for creating UX writing like an absolute pro. 

Ready to learn? Good. 

What is UX writing?

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? What is UX writing, really?

In a nutshell, UX writing is the text you see on digital products like desktop websites or mobile apps. This includes all the words, phrases and sentences featured on the buttons and general interface, eg. loading screens, taglines, labels, error messages, confirmation messages, navigation tips, and so much more. UX copywriters also sometimes refer to these little nuggets of text as microcopy. 

To illustrate, here’s some of the UX writing from our own site:

Notice the microcopy is short and actionable to help users know exactly what they’re looking at, and what to do next.

UX stands for user experience – think of UX writing as text specially written to improve the customer’s experience of navigating and interacting with the product. The aim of any good UX writing is to help users understand the site and complete the tasks they’re there to do. 

​​We like to think of UX as the all-important conversation happening between the website and the user. UX copywriting is like a friendly and helpful voice guiding you through the process.

When we sit down to create UX writing, we ask ourselves: When and how will people read this? What can we say to make their experience better? In other words, where will this text be presented on a site and how can we make it as clear, succinct, and engaging as possible to improve user journey? 

For example, people visiting a website for the first time usually want to check out the homepage first and get a brief overview of what a business does – while someone who’s just downloaded an app might need a few pointers that teach them how to use it. Therefore, the UX writing being presented (or the conversation being had) should be written with the customer’s experience and actions in mind, ie. Why are they on this page? What can we write here to make this process as seamless and pleasant as possible?  

If you need some help building top-quality UX writing for your website, our writers will work their magic. Learn how our onboarding process works. We think strategically and craft creatively!

Why is UX writing so important to get right?

It’s all about putting yourself in the users shoes – seeing the writing through their eyes. 

Without good UX writing, a customer might become lost, bored, confused – even frustrated when using your service. To avoid these risks, the writing needs to provide guidance and instructions that are meaningful and clear in order for the site or app to work in the way it’s supposed to. Making them feel comfortable and happy along the way adds that extra-special personal touch too. 

Good UX writing = an enjoyable site/app experience = happy users.

What are some other reasons why good UX writing is important?

  • Builds you a better brand image – shows that you know what you’re doing.
  • Strengthens the connection with your audiences – you understand them.
  • Creates smoother communication – demonstrates you’re here to help. 

UX writer vs copywriter: Aren’t they just the same? 

You may be thinking: isn’t UX writing just like copywriting? That’s natural. But no, they’re not the same.

The key difference is that copywriting is a form of writing made for advertising and marketing. This means the whole purpose of copy is to attract new customers and convince them to invest in your brand – thanks to the art of persuasion. Whereas with UX writing, the customer has already landed on your website or downloaded your app. They’re already invested, so there’s not much persuasion needed…

Therefore, the purpose of UX writing isn’t about enticing, converting, or selling. Instead, the goal is to provide clarity, better the experience, and help them find their way around.

UX writing examples

Still a little confused about why top-quality UX can make all the difference? Just look at these comparisons of various messages you might see across a typical website:

Notice the difference…
Order confirmed.  Purchase complete! Congrats, you’re all set. 
Add code. Got a promo code? Tap it in. 
Sign up for our newsletter.  Get tips and advice sent straight to your inbox. 
Start trial. Give us a try for free.
Authentication failure.  Oops! We couldn’t match that username and password. Give it another go.
Error 16. Access denied.  Connection lost 🙁 Try refreshing the page.

 

What a difference, huh? Do you now see how effective adding just a touch more personality to standard messaging can be? 

4 brands who are nailing their UX writing

To give a few more UX writing examples, let’s look at some brands known for producing stand-out UX copywriting. These are the businesses absolutely nailing it. 

Slack – ‘your supportive office pal’

We use the instant messaging platform Slack day-in-day-out here at writefully. So we’ve experienced firsthand how special their UX writing is – especially at injecting fun, warmth, and little nuggets of advice in their microcopy. They understand who their audience is (majority office or remote workers) and what they might need from their system (tips, pointers, or just their day at the office brightening up). The vibe is simple, friendly, and helpful. 

Revolut – ‘an easy-going advisor’

Fintech banking company Revolut goes by the motto that good UX writing should be invisible. You shouldn’t even notice that it’s there. Across their website and app, the copy is functional and understands the user’s financial pain points by offering handy solutions – all without being too overly technical. The copy feels clean, natural, and conversational.

Domino’s – ‘a trusty delivery bot’

With an aim to shorten the oven-to-door customer journey as much as possible (no one likes cold pizza), Domino’s UX writing helps make the delivery experience enjoyable and plan-sailing. They build stomach-rumbling anticipation with regular real-time status updates and they make the whole service completely transparent with their digital Pizza Tracker. The copy feels fresh, witty, and in control. All they want the user to do is sit back, relax, and get excited about their food. 

 

Tinder – ‘your encouraging wingman’

The voice of dating app Tinder’s UX writing is like a wingman cheering you on – giving you a little nudge in the right direction if you’re feeling shy. Along with guiding and navigating you through the app’s features, the copy makes the whole experience a little less daunting by acting as your very own matchmaker. But the copy’s not overly schmaltzy. It’s cool, calm, and collected like your bestie urging you to go say hi to the person making eyes at you from the bar. 

Top tips for creating stellar UX writing

So, what can you do to polish up your UX writing and improve the user experience? Well, what you say all depends on who you are as a brand and what products/services you offer – but remember, how you say it matters too. Here are our top tips for creating unbeatable UX copywriting that makes a big impact. 

Make it concise

UX writing should be straightforward, concise, and easy to understand. You’ve not hit the mark if the microcopy seems overly-wordy – not to mention there’s limited space in website and app design anyway.

So make it ‘engaging’ with as few words as possible. We go by the motto of short, shorter, shortest.

Being a ruthless editor will massively help. If you think you’ve written too much, you’re probably right. Cut out the faff and get straight to the point. We highly recommend abbreviations and contractions too. 

Make it crystal-clear

UX copywriting should be easy to digest. The worst feedback any UX copywriter can hear is: “I don’t get it?” or “What does this bit mean?” or “I’m not quite sure what to do here?”

So make things easy to follow and accessible for anyone. If there’s a simpler way to say it, that’s probably the right way to go! Think: rocket science for dummies. 

Steer clear of jargon

One of the best ways to make UX writing more digestible is to avoid technical jargon and buzzwords only you know. Speak the user’s language to make the whole thing user-orientated – even if you’re a super niche brand trying to explain a highly-specialised subject. 

If you think something needs explaining a little further, say it plainly. No-nonsense clarity is key. 

Sell the benefits 

UX copywriting should be user-orientated, not product-orientated. In other words, it should highlight the benefits of using a product or service, not its technical features. 

For example, let’s pretend we’re a new food delivery service writing copy for our app. What would sound more appealing to you as a consumer?

‘A network of nearby delivery drivers’ or ‘Food on your table in minutes’ 

‘An online ordering system’ or ‘Dinner in a few taps’

‘Lots of partner restaurants” or ‘Restaurant favourites from the comfort of your home’

‘Variety of cuisines’ or ‘Discover your favourite takeaway’

It’s clear which ones sound more exciting, right? It’s all about grabbing audience attention by helping them understand the value of the product.

Be empathetic

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, effective UX copywriting should be written with the customer’s feelings, needs, desires, and concerns in mind. Be one step ahead of your users by asking yourself: Why is the user here? What are their intentions? How will they be feeling in the moment? What do they need from this product?

We think of empathy and good listening skills as two main skills that all UX copywriters should possess. Take a read of our complete deep dive into what else makes a first-rate copywriter. 

Write with design in mind

UX copywriting should always be written in context. In other words, you need to write the text within the constraints of the design elements – thinking about how it’s going to fit on the screen and be embedded in the template. 

We always recommend collaborating with designers. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for you both to do a good job without teamwork. Working together will massively improve a product’s quality – because after all, you’re both aiming for the same thing: maximum useability. Designers help writers visualise how their words will be set out, while writers help designers refine and strengthen the messaging and flow of a page. 

Forefront CTAs

Your UX writing should be scattered with all sorts of CTAs including various links and buttons across the interface. Anticipate a user’s every next move and provide clear actions that’ll help them get there. Some of the best CTAs might include things like:

  • invites to follow your social media pages on an order confirmation message
  • a link to your review your business on a delivered status message
  • an invite to sign up for a newsletter on a blog catalogue page
  • a clear button to sign up and create an online account on a homepage.

As you see below, our own homepage presents a few CTAs to the user as soon as they land on it. It’s all about being useful and providing the next step at every given opportunity. 

We have four rules for writing an effective CTA. Take a read.

Make it fundamentally human

If you want to resonate well with your audience, it’s important you speak like them. In other words, we think the most impactful brands are the open and honest humanised ones – rather than the cold and corporatey ones. In fact, consumers who feel they have an emotional connection with a brand are 71% more likely to recommend them to friends and family.

So don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your UX copywriting – be approachable, personable, caring, and conversational in your tone. Using light-hearted humour can also work well for building an emotional connection. Add a touch of fun and whimsy to something ordinary – just as long as it reflects your branding and is only used in appropriate moments. 

Depending on where the user is in their journey, it might be better to be authoritative or instructive instead. 

Be consistent 

The number one rule for UX writing is to remain consistent. What we mean by that is don’t label something, and then call it something else on the next page. For example, if you label your sign-up CTA buttons as ‘create an account’ on the homepage, don’t then change it to ‘get started today’ on the next page. A tweak in wording might be confusing.

The same rule applies to style and tone of language too. It’s fine to have slight variations, but try to keep your brand personality harmonious across all touchpoints. 

Writefully UX writing services 

So there you have it, folks. We will reiterate that the three best qualities of all good UX copywriting are to be clear, concise, and consistent. It’s all about understanding your site or app from the user’s point of view. Adding elements of your brand’s personality along the way can jazz up the copy too – anything to make them smile or laugh while they’re with you.

We’ve looked at ‘what is UX writing?’ and the differences between a UX writer vs. UX copywriter – now it’s over to you to put your UX plans into action. 

If you need a hand brightening up your website or app, why not work with one of our super-talented UX copywriters who’ll help bring the UX writing to life? We think of your website as more than your virtual shop window – it’s your opportunity to tell your story.

Take a closer look at our UX writing services.

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