Find out what UX writing is, which the purpose of UX copy is, and what type of copy enhances the user experience. Open a digital Pandora’s box and learn UX writing basics.

UX writing for beginners: opening Pandora’s box

The myth of Pandora is one of the best-known myths in Western culture.

The main argument of the myth is that the first mortal woman, Pandora, out of curiosity, opened the box that the god Zeus gave to her husband, Epimetheus. Immediately afterwards, various evils emerged from the box to inhabit the world.

The only thing left in the box was hope.

With the help of the myth of Pandora, the ancient Greeks tried to explain the origin of all evil in the world. However, I’ll use it in this post for another purpose.

In other words, I’ll turn to the Greek myth to provide you with answers to the following three questions:

  • What is UX writing?
  • What is the goal of UX copy?
  • Which types of UX copy enhances the user experience?

Would you like to discover the answers to these questions? Keep reading!

UX writing as the Tin Man | The Marketing of Oz

As you read this post, you might start looking for the Marketing of Oz. If so, the Tin Man from the film “The Wizard of Oz” will be accompanying you during the search to help you find it. Discover what the Marketing of Oz is and read all the posts that belong to the category “UX writing”.

A digital Pandora’s box: from the metaphor to the user experience

Pandora’s box is the metaphor that encompasses surprises or unexpected consequences that a specific decision may cause.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine that you decide to download, install, and activate an application on your mobile device.

At the moment of the decision, the company that developed the application will give you a digital Pandora’s box.

However, nobody will warn you not to open it.

Just the opposite, the company will encourage you to be curious enough and open the box, download the application, and install it on your mobile device.

Nevertheless, once you install the application, you may discover some surprises, both positive and negative.

  • In case of positive surprises, the “goods” come out of a digital Pandora’s box. For example, ease of use, clarity, and assistance.
  • Speaking of negative surprises, the “bringers of evil” escape from the box. For instance, friction, confusion, and lack of assistance.

How to ensure a positive user experience?

The goal of the above-mentioned company is to help you enjoy a problem-free experience while you use the app. In other words, the company wants you to “meet the goods” and “avoid the evils” from the moment you download and install the app.

  • The “goods” result in a high level of user satisfaction. If the use of the app is straightforward and not-to-challenging, users will be more likely to continue using it.
  • The evils” result in a low level of user satisfaction. If it becomes too challenging and time-consuming to use the app, users will be more likely to uninstall it.

However, it doesn’t depend on you if you’ll face positive or negative surprises once you open your digital Pandora’s box. It depends on the company that gave it to you.

Luckily, companies can make sure that their app provides, if not only, then mostly positive surprises. How? With the help of UX writing.

If this term is still new to you, don’t worry. Keep reading, and you’ll discover:

  • What UX writing is;
  • What is the goal of UX copy;
  • Which types of copy enhance the user experience.

What is UX writing?

UX writing is a design discipline. Its goal is improving the user experience with the help of UX copy or microcopy.

Having said that, UX writing doesn’t limit to content writing, copywriting or UI writing.

  • Content writing is a marketing discipline that consists of crafting content that attracts, informs, and helps readers find the solution to a problem.
  • Copywriting is another marketing discipline, known as “the art of writing copy that increases the conversion ratio”.
  • UI writing is a design discipline that embodies “crafting a microcopy that makes user interface (UI) navigation easier”.

UX writing encompasses the three writing disciplines.

  • The user experience may start, for instance, with a blog post where a user discovers the characteristics of the application (content writing, information).
  • If the user finds the information on the blog useful, they will probably move towards the landing page to find out which benefits the application provides (copywriting, conversion).
  • In the end, if the user decides to download and install the app, the experience will continue through the user interface. Then the UI content will aim to make its use the most intuitive possible (UI writing, functionality).

To sum up, user experience writing is a general term, while user interface writing represents a specific term. However, many of us tend to use the expressions “UX writing” and “UI writing” as if they were synonyms.

What is the goal of UX copy?

The goal of UX copy is to create a meaningful conversation between the user and the product.

The conversation is meaningful when the user understands the WHY and the HOW of a task. In other words, at every moment must the user be informed about the following:

  • Why the product responds in a particular way;
  • What’s the next step in the task.

UX writing must ANSWER their questions and GUIDE them through tasks. This conversation is the core of UX writing.

UX Writing Fundamentals, UX Writing Collective

If the UX copy manages to answer the users’ questions and guide them through the task, that way we avoid two “evils”, known as “two F’s of UX writing”:

  • Friction is any factor that makes a task difficult or makes the user feel confused.
  • Frustration is one of the consequences of friction. It decreases the chances of continuing to use the product.

Which types of UX copy enhance the user experience?

Now, let’s see which types of UX copy enhance the user experience.

If we focus only on the content that forms part of the user interface, UX writers craft the following types of UX copy:

  • Instructions and on-tool information (first-use content, contextual help, and other pieces of information);
  • Dialogue boxes, CTAs, and buttons (interaction interstitials and promotions);
  • Legal notices;
  • Notifications, alerts, and errors;
  • Lists and forms.

Besides, mid-to-high level UX writers also create content for chatbots and voice-based interactions.

Content writing and copywriting “open” Pandora’s box

In this post, we have learned what UX writing is, what the purpose of UX copy is, and which types of UX copy enhance the user experience. Now it’s time to get back to Pandora’s box from the beginning of the text.

As already said, once you decide to download, install, and activate a mobile application, the company that developed it will give you a digital Pandora’s box. However, before opening the box, be aware that:

  • Thanks to content writing, you can find all the necessary information about the app and the company that is behind it.
  • On the other hand, with the help of copywriting, you can discover the benefits of opening a “digital Pandora’s box”.
  • In the end, UX copy is there to provide you (only) with positive surprises if you decide to take the step and open the box.

UX writing “keeps the box open”

And in case you work in a team that develops mobile applications, keep in mind that it’s not that challenging to persuade users to open a digital Pandora’s box.

The challenge is to help them to keep it open.

And, needless to say, no one can face either overcome this challenge without UX writing.

A Writing-Friendly Question: Is there any other topic related to UX writing you would like to know more about?

My name is Stasa Durdic, and I work as a UX writer. For me, Pandora’s box is an idea. On the other hand, the digital Pandora’s box is not only an idea but also its realisation, in the form of a digital product. If you would like to know more about me, please read my story or visit my LinkedIn profile. On the other hand, in case you want to get in touch with me, I’ll be happy to offer you my help with UX writing.

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Categories: UX writing


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