Insights

It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It: Why User Experience Writing Matters

08.20.2019 by

“Show me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.”

Often falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, this quote actually traces its roots back to the 3rd century and Confucian philosopher, Xun Kuang. So even as far back as 250 BC, wise men knew the value of an effective user experience! Yet some brands in 2019 still don’t place enough emphasis on UX-based writing as part of their content strategy.

In today’s saturated market, simply offering a good product or creatively marketing its benefits is no longer enough to establish customer loyalty. Consumers must be engaged to truly buy into your brand long term. They don’t want a sales pitch; they want a memorable, often personalized experience. As the line between delivery channels continues to blur, it’s becoming more and more possible to create a consistent, immersive experience wherever and whenever a customer engages with your brand. But it starts with how you communicate with them. And that requires understanding the importance of quality UX writing.

Unlike advertising and direct response copywriting, which is aimed at getting users to take action from your marketing, UX writing is more about using your brand voice to shape the user’s experience with your product and ultimately help them complete their task at hand. This can significantly impact a user’s perception of your brand, perhaps more than any other factor. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Think about a memorable online shopping experience you’ve had. What made it stand out among the numerous other online transactions you’ve made? What made you tell your friends about it? What made you want to return to that site?

Chances are it wasn’t necessarily the advertising that drove you to the retailer, or even the product itself. It was the experience, from browsing the site through the transaction process through to shipping and delivery notifications. Maybe it was the fun or helpful tone of the copy that stood out as being more human than other websites. Maybe it was how efficient and seamless the language made the process. Either way, something in the messaging likely differentiated it from other experiences you’ve had.

That’s the power of UX writing.

Early in my career, a mentor once told me that the door to persuasion is opened emotionally, not rationally. It stuck with me and it’s even truer today than it was then. Your audience needs to do more than believe you; they need to remember you. Marketers who can make that connection with their audience are the ones seeing success. Because these days, word of mouth travels faster than it ever has before. A positive—or negative—experience can go viral in an instant. Products may be similar and advertisements may get lost in the clutter. But a well-connected messaging experience, from web content to email and mobile notifications, is an opportunity to give users something they aren’t getting from the competition.  

Characteristics of strong UX writing

  • It’s consistent. Your voice, your tone, your word choice…these things need to carry through across all touchpoints. The user should always feel like they are talking to the same person, no matter the time, situation, or channel.

     

  • It’s adapted. Web experiences are different than mobile. First-time visitors are different than repeat customers. Show users that there’s a human behind your brand by speaking specifically to them, using language that makes sense for their experience.

     

  • It’s empathetic. Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Think of all the questions they could have, and get ahead of them with messaging that prevents them from having to ask.

     

  • It’s clear. Concise, specific, active language is what helps the user get from point A to point B. Trying too hard to be clever or playful can actually be annoying to a user if the timing isn’t right. Don’t totally abandon your brand’s voice; but remember, at the end of the day, UX writing needs to do its job. Keep it simple.

User Experience writing is all about making sure the right user is getting the right message, at the right time. How do you begin building a well-crafted messaging ecosystem? It starts with a strategic, holistic approach to UX, where copy and design, branding and technology, are all working together to create a seamless experience.

That’s where we come in. The staff of skilled writers and UX strategists at Trellist can help bring your messaging the consistency it requires to make this vision a reality. Contact us to start the conversation.

Chris McEntee
From campaign strategy and creative execution to product development and project management, Chris has nearly 15 years of diverse marketing and tech experience with innovative, disruptive brands and products. At Trellist, he leverages these skills to create content and build messaging strategies that help our clients better communicate with their audiences across marketing, UX, and social media.