There are a lot of “genres” of copywriting that really aren’t genres at all; they’re just buzz-y marketing terms. “Conversion copywriting” is a good example. Any copywriter worth their salt is focused on helping their clients increase conversions.
After all, the goal of copywriting is to connect a person who has a specific need with the best possible solution to that need. Within your copy, you’ll have an effective call to action that gets that person to take the action you want them to take. (This should also be the action the person needs to take to solve their challenge!) So, fundamentally, all copywriting is conversion copywriting.
Calling oneself a conversion copywriter is just marketing, like calling yourself a health doctor.
But UX copywriting is one of the few copywriting types that actually is a distinguishable type of copywriting. However, you’ll still use the foundation tools and tactics of copywriting to do it.
What Does UX Copywriting Mean?
UX stands for “user experience.” UX copywriting is copy that’s designed to make the user’s experience clear and intuitive.
You may be thinking, “Wait, shouldn’t all copy make a user’s experience clear and intuitive?” Yes, but when we’re talking about UX copywriting, we’re specifically talking about one subset of copy: The directional and instructional copy on websites, apps, software, and other digital platforms.
Think about a user experience you’ve had that hasn’t been good. Have you ever been on a website, logged into something, or interacted with software and thought, “Wait, where am I?” “How do I get to where I want to go?” or “Where do I go or what happens if I click here?”
UX copywriting is copy that’s designed to be the clear, easy-to-understand guideposts as you’re interacting in a digital environment. You shouldn’t feel lost or wonder how you access specific information. It should be clear to you how you take the action(s) you want to take.
UX Copywriting Examples
In practice, UX copywriting is doing things like naming links and menus so that people will have a good understanding of what they’re likely to find in them. It’s creating error messages that are actually HELPFUL to the person seeing the error. It’s guiding people through an unfamiliar process as concisely and easily as possible.
Here are a few examples:
In this example, you get clear instructions on how to use the digital tool (in this case, a solar calculator). But notice the copy within the form field (“enter a location”), the radio buttons (residential, commercial, non-profit), and the average monthly electricity bill note (“your best estimate is fine”).
You know exactly what to input in each area. (And you know you don’t have to look up your electricity bills for the entire past year, but can roughly guess.) You also have a clear call to action (calculate).
Amazon Account Page
This account page makes it easy to understand where to click based on what action you want to take. The bold headers, combined with the icons, help you narrow down which area you’re looking for, while the copy below it gives you even further information to ensure you know what you’re going to get when you click through.
Toast Navigation Menu
Much like Amazon’s account page, Toast’s main navigation (products, solutions, restaurant types, pricing, learn, and company) helps you narrow down on the area you’re interested in. When you click on a particular menu item, you get what’s called a mega menu with further options that fall in the “learn” category.
These options have additional text that makes it clear what you’re going to get when you click. This increases the chances you’ll head to the right place and find what you’re looking for on first click. In doing so, you decrease the chances that a user will leave your website because it’s too much of a pain to find what they need.
Adding UX Copywriting to Your Skillset
As with many things, UX copywriting is a lot more challenging than it seems. What might seem like straightforward, clear copy to one group of people might totally confuse another group. Putting a link in one menu might make sense to some people but might make it next-to-impossible to find for others.
So, how does a copywriter write UX copy well? As I mentioned earlier, even though it’s a specific type of copywriting, it’s still a matter of relying on the key tenets of copywriting as a whole.
1. Put Yourself in the User’s Shoes
When you’re writing UX copy, you need to put yourself in the user’s shoes. How are they most typically arriving on a particular page? What do they want to do when they get to that page? Keep the user journey in mind and identify where the user would most likely want to go. It’s your job to help them get there!
2. Have a Purpose for Every Single Word You Use
You need to keep UX copy concise. As with the examples above, you don’t often have a lot of space for copy. With UX you’re dealing with characters not words!
All copywriting requires you to self edit. But in the case of UX copywriting, you’re going to find yourself writing copy and then asking, “How can I say this in 20 less characters?” And then your next version you may say, “OK how can I say this in 5 less characters?” And so on and so forth.
3. Identify the Client’s Goals for the User
What does your client hope to accomplish with this project? Based on that, how can you help guide the user to that result in a way that makes sense for the user? Revisit point number 1: Put yourself in the user’s shoes.
If a client’s goal makes no sense for the user, you need to have a conversation with your client and find how you can balance both their goals with user expectations.
Remember to Test
Testing is going to be incredibly helpful. As a client tests out its digital products before launch, they’re also testing out the copy to figure out where people are getting tripped up and where people are moving through smoothly.
And, since UX copywriting is so closely tied to the layout of the page or screen, expect to work with wireframes (bare-bones mockups) or the fully designed layout to ensure that your copy works on the page.
You could specialize in UX copywriting, of course, but you could also just make it a part of your overall copywriting offerings. Personally, I like to sprinkle in UX copywriting projects for work variety. After all, isn’t variety one of the best things about what we do? 🙂
Your turn! Does UX copywriting sound like something you’d like to try? Would you want to add it to your toolbox of copywriting skills? Let me know in the comments below.
Last Updated on July 5, 2023