Concerns around user experiences and customer retention rates are getting more wrapped into the KPIs of product, engineering, UI/UX, and content teams. As a result the need for excellent content continues to grow — and the skills, tools, and minds of product content strategists are in increasingly high demand.
If you’re thinking about content strategy and how to optimize the words in your products, here are some tips to help you create content that supports amazing user experiences.
5 UX Writing Tips
1. Remember that you’re solving user problems, not company problems
As a product content strategist or UX writer, you’re planning, designing, and editing content for the person who actually uses the product. Think about who they are as they walk down the street, work at their job, or sit at home; their problems should be at the top of your mind.
Always come back to the question, ‘What problem am I solving for?’ If your answer is something along the lines of, ‘I want people to use more features in the app,’ that’s not a user problem, that’s a company problem. It’s important to reframe your thinking to put users’ needs and goals at the forefront of your mind.It's important to reframe your thinking to put users' needs and goals at the forefront of your mind.Click To Tweet
2. Know your “typical user”, then reach beyond their needs
Having a strong sense of who you’re creating content for is crucial. Maybe your audience comprises international travelers who only stay at five-star hotels or perhaps your target market is young, urban people looking to make some fast money with a second job; in many cases, audiences end up incredibly broad (as in, everyone).
If your product is meant to serve the entirety of your chosen audience, you want to be sure it actually can. With that in mind, design for accessibility and inclusivity. Consider an audience’s reading levels, disabilities, and information processing styles or preferences. Let inclusion be your guide.
3. Be cross-functional
There’s a lot of professional juggling involved with content strategy. From a numbers standpoint, you’re not typically the team in the company with the largest headcount. So, look within your own company to find others who can help create and serve content (and teach them what it is you do, too). For example:
- Support and customer success teams live and breathe user needs. Getting their input on how product flows and copy could change to overcome stumbling blocks or answer common questions is invaluable.
- Marketing teams tend to be quite in-tune with the target audience. Ask them about the latest rounds of A/B testing. Do buttons with exclamation points or without punctuation convert more users? What type of product-related information are people interested in consuming?
- Those who specialize in regional and local translations of your product understand UX restrictions. You may need to make your CTAs much shorter if the content always ends up getting truncated in the translation process.
- People who work in website architecture care about how the human brain interacts with their screens, and they can probably help you ideate around how text plays with design. The work you’re each doing will probably be interesting to share.
4. Avoid being the last stop in the design process
Being part of the design experience greatly informs how you plan your content, so try to integrate yourself into the early stages of the design process. Ask designers you work with invite you to their meetings. You may not need to actively participate in every single one, but it sends the message that what you create happens synchronously and congruently with what they create. It will also cut down on time spent playing catch up and/or scrambling to create last-minute content.
5. Don’t let standards be scapegoats
You most likely have content standards that guide everything you create, such as rules around capitalization, spelling (‘OK’ vs ‘Okay’), grammar rules, and, most importantly, word choice. You also likely get pushback from time to time, from PMs, engineers, and designers who want to skirt these standards, suggesting “Why can’t we just say this?” or, “Why does it have to be that way?”
It’s in your best interest to avoid answering with, “It’s not in our content standards.” This is the equivalent of the age-old parental standby, “Because I said so!” and if my childhood is any guide to live by, that kind of reasoning makes people even less obliging.
Shutting down the argument without explanation also doesn’t help you in the long run. It makes content strategy seem inscrutable, governed by arbitrary rules instead of careful research and forethought. Instead, take these opportunities to share your craft. “We use sentence case for all body text because title case has shown to take 50% longer for users to comprehend and we don’t want to slow down their experience.”
Teaching and giving insight into the ‘why’s behind content standards legitimizes your role and sets the groundwork for getting them to buy-in on future ideas. By all means, utilize and adhere to your content standards, but don’t let them answer every question for you.