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April 24, 2023

UX writing: what is it?

For more than twenty years, the digital sector has given pride of place to design to the detriment of texts. Writing was the “task” that was relegated to the end of a digital project. The very expression of UX Writing (understand "writing for the user experience") only appeared, for the first time in France, in 2018. However, UX writing makes it possible to guide the user at each stage of his journey. By giving him the right information at the right time, we encourage him to perform the actions we want him to do. And when you know that the short-term memory of a human brain cannot exceed seven items (all types of content combined), knowing how to write for UX makes sense. 

What is UX Writing?

UX Writing: Definition

UX Writing refers to writing adapted to the “user experience” (UX). It is also called “UX writing” or “UX writing”. The branch of user experience centered on content, it is complementary to “UX Design”.

The rise of UX writing

UX Writing can be applied to all kinds of digital projects: websites, mobile applications, interactive terminals, etc. However, each digital solution induces different behaviors among its users. The various usage scenarios are therefore exponential. It is from this observation that UX Writing has gradually developed. Business needs have increased, UX writing techniques have become more professional and the profession of UX Writer was born.

UX writing: specificities

We do not write the texts of a mobile application in the same way as the chapter of a book. For what? Because the readers of the two media behave very differently. Indeed, the screens make reading more complicated. The Internet user may be bothered by a reflection, pop-ups, notifications... His concentration is disturbed.

In addition, 92.1% of internet users are mobile users. This word refers to people who browse the internet via their mobile phone. The list of potential inconveniences is therefore still growing: reduced screen size, non-responsive site, too long loading times… All these inconveniences greatly affect the user experience (UX). The mobile user may then be tempted to leave your site.

🔍 To avoid this harm to our customers, we test their user interface. If you too would like to benefit from an audit, discover our offers.

These constraints also apply to digital equipment installed in public places. Tactile, interactive or video kiosks are no exception. The user must, in addition, ignore the noise and the movements that surround him to concentrate on his interaction with the machine. The task is not easy. Writing the texts of digital solutions really requires a specific approach.

What are the benefits of UX writing?

Marketing departments with UX Writers on their teams have a leg up on their competition. Indeed, this skill is a real advantage for end users but also for companies.

Accompany the user in his journey

Specifying or confirming an action, providing information or instructions… These exchanges with the user, throughout their journey, considerably improve their experience. This is the primary objective of the UX Writer. Moving from one stage to another, in the user journey (called consumer journey), requires improving interactions with the consumer by creating a coherent dialogue. To do this, it is necessary to optimize:
  • usability;
  • accessibility;
  • the relationship with the user;
  • the harmonization of the course.

🔍 At Ferpection, we carry out user tests for our customers' solutions. Among the problems we encounter most often, we note a lack:
  • clarity of explanations;
  • interest in the services offered;
  • homogeneity of the course.
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### Start with why: improve your company's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

In addition to the obvious interest for the end consumer, UX Writing is also a formidable tool for organizations. Indeed, it makes it possible to increase the performance of several objectives and indicators:
  • engagement rate (degree of user interaction with content);
  • conversion rate (percentage of consumers carrying out an action);
  • retention rate (number of loyal customers over a given period);
  • completion rate (proportion of people going to the end of the course).
Depending on the type of digital medium, optimizing these key performance indicators (KPIs) comes down to increasing the number of leads, sales and customer retention. A real boon for organizations!

How to write for User Experience (UX)?

The constraints to which the texts must submit are closely linked to the host medium (website, mobile application, interactive terminal, etc.). Nevertheless, several good practices, from web writing, have already proven themselves.

Make short sentences

Ideally, they should be less than fifteen words. However, depending on the type of support, a tolerance may be observed. The "About" page of a website, for example, may contain more extensive text. Try, however, not to exceed twenty-five words.
The UX writer must question the conditions under which the consumer will read the text. They determine the screen size and environment. Thus, the reading comfort is higher on the screen of a computer, in his office, than on the small screen of a public place.

Use simple words

Your sentences must be understandable to an eight-year-old child. Avoid jargon. There is a good chance that your user will be in a hurry, even stressed (especially if he is outside). He has no time to think.
Adopt a direct style
Prioritize the active voice. The primary objective of UX Writing is to guide the user in each of his actions. So opt for a style that calls for action. Also, avoid negatives.

Be concise

If a person is on your interface, chances are they are looking for something. Give her what she wants as soon as possible. Do not tease, you risk losing the visitor.

Air your text

As we have seen, your consumer is probably in uncomfortable reading conditions. The surrounding distractions (noise, environment, notifications, etc.) are such that his concentration is constantly interrupted.

Make it easier for him by airing your text. Ban overly long paragraphs, skip lines, use titles and subtitles, bulleted lists... Your visitor must be able to find the answer to his question by simply "scanning" the screen.

🔍 These UX writing rules also improve user accessibility and inclusiveness. Strong values ​​for Ferpection, which created the concept of UX for Good. Discover our webinar on UX for Good!

Prefer warm areas

Thanks to eye-tracking techniques, we know which parts of the screen attract the eye of the user. You might as well take advantage of it by placing the essential information there. Two reading patterns stand out.
  • The reading diagram in F: the heatmaps show that the eye is primarily attracted by the banner at the top of the page. Then, it goes down on the left, lingering on the titles and the beginnings of paragraphs. It is therefore essential to work well on the title and to put the most important information first.
  • The Z reading scheme: this reading direction is more specifically adapted to visual communication media such as posters or images. However, it can be useful to know it, especially if you put the printable versions of your documents on your website. Eye tracking studies have shown that the reader's gaze lands on the top left. It then moves to the right, then “sweeps” center from top right corner to bottom left corner. Finally, the reader's eye scans the medium one last time laterally to the right. The UX Writer must therefore place the most important words on this Z-shaped trajectory.
Velijko Zajc poster for the Kustendorf Festival illustrating the direction of reading in Z. Source:

Considered historically as the poor relation of digital, UX Writing is gradually acquiring its letters of nobility. The development teams understood that adding the texts at the end of a project, hastily and without any real strategy, led to wobbly results. User-centric texts are intended to enrich the user experience. The UX Writer must therefore be able to think, from the ideation phase, about the best way to achieve this.
Moreover, UX writing should not be seen as an isolated discipline, but as part of a whole. It is conditioned by the context and the dynamics of the course. To choose the right word on a button, you need to know the step before and the one after. Finally, the UX writer must always keep in mind the action to which he wishes to lead the user.

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Thibault Geenen

Thibault Geenen

Thibault is fascinated by the power of UX, especially user research and nowadays the UX for Good principles. As an entrepreneur, he's a huge fan of liberated company principles, where teammates give the best through creativity without constraints. A science-fiction lover, he remains the only human being believing that Andy Weir's 'The Martian' is a how-to guide for entrepreneurs.

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