UX Writing – Important Trend or Unnecessary Fad?

Published: 2023-04-13 Updated: 2023-11-16
Subject: CCMS Variant management Modularization Content creation Quality control

For some time now, the topic of UX writing has been cropping up in technical writing departments time and time again. At first glance, the term seems like one of those typical buzzwords. Hidden behind the UX writing trend, however, is an important field of activity – for technical writers, too.

What is UX writing?

UX writing is about creating user interface texts. In a digitalized world, user interfaces exist in various places: classically as PC software or an app, as a website, or as an interactive system, such as in the context of a machine display.

With UX writing, it is even more important to focus on the user than with other texts. Since software is dynamic, good UX writing must take into account the particular usage situation and the aim of the usage situation (the desired end state). UX writing is often conversational; it addresses the user directly and as personally as possible. And, of course, UX writing must take into account many practical requirements that arise due to space constraints on the software interface, for example.

What requirements does UX writing have to fulfill?

UX writing is sometimes subject to different requirements than other documentation tasks. This begins with the above-mentioned space constraints. Since usually only a small amount of text space available, it is important to be as concise as possible. To make matters worse, even more space is sometimes needed for translations as the length of a text will vary in different languages. In addition, when writing you have to take into account different platforms which have their own space limitations and representational conventions.

Software is dynamic while documents are often considered static. With UX writing, the author must therefore always take into account where the users have come to this point of the user interface from, what is to be achieved there, and which part of the user interface the user will reach after the action. Because of this dynamic aspect, technical writers must always keep the specific context of the user in mind when writing. To support the user in this context, it is also important to develop consistent terminology. This allows the user to move through the software without becoming confused by several variations of a term.

The basis of UX writing is always the interaction between user and software. This means that UX writing must be conversational and use natural language, whereby a precise knowledge of the target group enables a direct form of address to be adopted. An appropriate tone of voice is particularly important: should the style be more casual or formal?

Why is UX writing a task for the technical writing department?

UX writing is an important task which has a major influence on the quality of software products. But is this a task for the technical writing department?

Disciplines such as UX experts, UI designers, and developers often work with UI texts, but creating texts is usually not their primary task. However, the precise, target-group-oriented creation of texts, which is necessary for UX writing, is one of the core competences of the technical writing department - and a good reason to locate UX writing here.

Terminology also plays an important role in UX writing. In many companies, terminology work falls under the remit of the technical writing department. Technical writing departments also create and manage editorial guidelines, an important resource for UX writing.

Finally, it is important to be involved in the development process at an early stage and to provide continuous support. This also applies to the technical writing department; they often have their own role in agile teams and participate in the sprints.

UX writing is an exciting task which contributes significantly to adding value to the software. Technical writers are highly qualified to take on this task. And they should also take up the challenge of UX writing because it rounds off the profile of a technical writing department and makes the services of the writing department even more visible within the company.