Delivering stellar customer experiences across the customer journey – both print and digital — is a critical ingredient in effective copywriting. UX copywriting, however, is a narrower field, specializing in copy that serves as a virtual how-to manual for using digital media, such as apps, software, and websites.
Successful user experience (UX) copywriters can help guide even the most tech-averse among us into the 21st century with easy-to-follow explanations and directions that even your technophobic grandma can use with confidence.
Whether it’s navigating a website or setting up a digital device, great UX copywriting is essential to transform audiences into fans, fans into customers, and customers into brand advocates. It empowers users — the magic sauce that positions your brand as a helpful guide to the digital universe.
Why Do We Need a UX Copywriter?
Companies that make digital products often assume too much about their consumers. Just before I sat down to write this post, I received a new Bluetooth-enabled speaker for my iPhone.
While I will admit that temptation won out over work (I fiddled with it for about an hour before I sat down to the task at hand), it turns out that the experience was just what I needed to introduce the topic. The darn thing had a warranty card a mile long in every language known to humankind.
But where were the directions? Nowhere in sight.
Since I do work in the digital space, I finally figured it out. But not before I experienced more than a bit of frustration.
That experience was precisely what I needed to illustrate my point. Imagine if I were my elderly neighbor, who only recently “upgraded” to a flip phone and doesn’t even have a laptop in their home.
That gentle soul would have probably morphed into a “Karen” over her frustration. The five symbols that ran along the device’s top were all the clues I had to decipher how to use it. My neighbor wouldn’t have a clue as to what that funny-looking angular “B” was.
She’d probably have returned it to the manufacturer, along with a “bless your heart” – the genteel Southern lady’s trademark putdown. Don’t think she would buy another, nor would she trumpet the brand’s wares.
If only they had hired a UX copywriter or two.
Get UX Product Copywriting Right
Engineers, developers, and designers — their brilliance is legendary. However, their ability to distance themselves from their knowledge and put themselves in a neophyte’s shoes makes them the butt of nerd jokes.
The UX copywriter forms the bridge between these people’s technical savvy and the consumer’s experience.
So, the first thing is to engage in content collaboration with your engineers, developers, and designers. Listen to their instructions and try to use the product yourself.
Write down all the snags you experienced — all the terms you had to Google before you proceeded. Then, put yourself in your target customer’s shoes. Think about how they would feel if they experienced your frustrations.
Now, go back to the backend folks and get a better explanation of how to use the product. Repeat as necessary. Once you (in your target customer’s shoes) can easily understand how to use it, simplify and clarify the instructions in laypeople’s terms.
Next, test your instructions on ordinary people. Not your employees (who might be more familiar with your products than the general public) but rather people from the same demographics and other characteristics as your target customers.
When test subjects rave about how easy it was to follow your directions, only then should you release your product — and your how-to manual — to the public. Finally, sit back and enjoy the content analytics numbers as sales pour in.
Rock UX Copywriting for Apps
Almost every time an ad for an app pops up on my phone while I’m playing my favorite game, I shake my head in disbelief at the horrendous writing I see from the app’s developers. From non-native English to glaring typos, it’s a wonder why anyone would download them.
Don’t let this be your company. Think of your app’s description as your company’s elevator speech. Make sure it spells out what it does, and the benefits your audience will have when they download it. Above all, check it for grammatical errors and typos before you launch your app.
As with digital products, whether they be Bluetooth speakers or software, make sure that your app’s tutorial gets users up to speed quickly and accurately. Nothing frustrates a new user like being unable to use the app due to garbled directions. User testing, too, can iron out any rough spots before you spring your app on the public.
Even if you use an AI writing tool to compose copy for your app, run the text by your editorial team before you publish it. These tools are great for first drafts — but if you’ve ever winced at one of Grammarly’s “suggestions” for alternate wordings, you’ll know why it’s critical to double-check.
Finally, your copy for app descriptions and tutorials needs to be as brand-forward as any slick ad you run on TV or radio. We recommend Writer, an AI content creation and governance tool that not only recommends grammatical changes but, more importantly, nudges content writers to substitute words from an approved list of words that best reflect your brand voice.
Make Your Web Copy More User-Friendly with a Conversational Tone
Whether it’s static content on your website or your social media pages, users want inviting copy that engages them in the experience. Work with your UX design team to create the perfect pairing of visual and textual elements that draw them into the conversation.
Asking questions that invite your audience to respond (and providing them the opportunity to do so within the page’s design) is a great start. Using the word “you” as you would in an actual conversation, too, will make users feel right at home, as Jenna Bunnell advises.
Calls to action — especially for hospitality brands — as UX copywriter Scarlett Payne advises, should invite, not intimidate. However, brand voice also should factor into the copy equation.
For instance, as Payne points out, research showed that “Check availability” performed better than “Book a room” for a hotel chain. However, for a criminal law practice where clients already feel intimidated by their circumstances, “Book your free consultation” might feel more like relief than intimidation for people looking to avoid incarceration.
Using storytelling to guide users through your web pages, too, enhances the on-page experience. However, consider the context.
While blog posts can accommodate a long-winded tale, doing so on a how-to page can be a recipe for disaster. If you’ve ever tapped your fingers in impatience while a recipe writer rambles on and on about their grandma’s cooking or their trip to France, you know what I mean.
Instead, introduce how-to pages with a short paragraph detailing the benefits of the finished product and get right into the directions for using it. A customer-centric approach that puts yourself in your audience’s shoes is always the best choice.
As with other UX copy, usability testing is a must for web copy.
Testing should include:
- Testing various versions of your copy for understandability using an A/B approach
- Looking at how easy it is for users to find specific information quickly
- Checking to see which calls to action work best with each page
Finally, upgrade your UX copy as often as you do other content. Frequent refreshes along the content lifecycle, as Bunnell recommends, are essential for enhancing your audience’s user experience.
Having a content marketing platform with robust metadata management can help in the updating process. Including keywords in that metadata can help you quickly identify outdated terminology, allowing you to update your UX copy easily.
DivvyHQ’s content platform does just that. Additionally, it makes collaboration with other UX teams, such as your design and development teams, a seamless process; your UX writers never have to leave the piece they’re working on to consult with them.