What is writing for UX?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I often write articles around writing for digital and cognition and I have yet to list my working strategies. We like writing strategies. They are many and easy to find for good and bad. I only want to list my own although clearly I apply Pyramid Writing. 

Every designer knows how to write copy right? (Optional comma). While explaining writing digital content my friend asked, “what is writing for UX?” The answer is not difficult and well rehearsed among my digital peers. Outside our design bubble it prompted a defence: “I know how to write! I’ve been writing copy for years”.

I reached out for a random example of text based on the cutlery I was holding. I analysed and re-drafted it super quickly to illustrate writing from our readers’ perspective and paying attention to how I progressed (my strategy?) and applied Pyramid Writing.

Example Copy

The original copy text from Viners

Viners cutlery designed for you

With over a century of cutlery manufacturing experience, Viners is a highly distinguished, trusted and much loved brand, steeped in British Heritage.

Viners origins date back to Sheffield in the early 1900’s. Since then we have maintained a tradition which combines best in class materials and cutting edge technologies to produce elegent, robust, rust resistant cutlery with an enduring finish. With a varied range of design and shapes to appeal to all tastes, all backed by our guarantee of excellence and finished to the highest standard.

Add the finishing touches to your dining table with a beautiful Viners cutlery set.

Analysis

The original copy is all about Viners: “Viners, Viners, Viners. Oh, and you”. I doubt key readers will reach the solution before scanning off?

Their strategy used is:

  1. Evidence Viners’ heritage.
  2. Tell Viners’ story.
  3. Add value with a Viners’ quality and guarantee.
  4. Offer the solution scenario.

The copy contains a typo and the original presentation is center-aligned, which is the topic of my article, Writing for UX: Center-align Text?

The original copy text before rewriting

Note: This sample is marked-up using mark tags with traffic-light priorities annotated using a title attribute.

Viners cutlery designed for you

With over a century of cutlery manufacturing experience, Viners is a highly distinguished, trusted and much loved brand steeped in British Heritage.

Viners origins date back to Sheffield in the early 1900’s. Since then we have maintained a tradition which combines best in class materials and cutting edge technologies to produce elegent, robust, rust resistant cutlery with an enduring finish. With a varied range of design and shapes to appeal to all tastes, all backed by our guarantee of excellence and finished to the highest standard.

Add the finishing touches to your dining table with a beautiful Viners cutlery set.

105 words

Copy Text Update

The revised copy

Viners cutlery is designed for life

Add a spectacular finishing touch to your dining table with a beautiful Viners cutlery set.

Our much loved cutlery range appeals to all tastes. It is elegant and distinguished, trusted and steeped in British Heritage.

All our cutlery is backed by our Guarantee of Excellence. We have over a century of cutlery manufacturing experience starting in early 1900’s Sheffield. Our tradition combines best in class materials and cutting edge technologies to produce a robust, rust resistant and enduring finish of the highest standard.

89 words

Strategies

The following list is of the organisational strategies I applied to the sample text and in context. It’s my take on Pyramid writing, really. The Viners story is rewritten from our readers’ (“user centric” and “task oriented”) perspective:

  1. Offer a low-effort, high-impact solution or summary.
  2. Promote the value proposition early.
  3. Validate the solution and value with evidence.

The revised copy intended to preserve the Viners content. The next tasks were to:

  • Resist complete re-write.
  • Rearrange phrases to meet the above strategies
  • Correct the typo
  • Resist the Oxford Comma (check your local guidance)
  • Sense-check the flow
  • Shorten sentences
  • Craft paragraph lengths according to the organisation: shortest, short, and longer.

The work combines to:

  • Rearrange and rationalise the content for our readers’ experience and engagement.
  • Value the effort already expended on researching, writing, positioning and publishing the piece.

Conserving the content makes updating the page copy easy too as there’s no architectural or cultural change needed. That will please the stakeholders. 

The verbiage can be pruned and worked more and in this context it’s not necessary. The demonstration exercise was a success although it is tempting to spin the revised first paragraph… and rearrange that homepage… and know when to stop.

Summary

Writing for UX is writing for our readers’ purposes while presenting our enterprise values.

Our readers’ behaviours seldom include reading every word of copy from top to bottom of the document. We must design our copy to serve those behaviours and to guide our consumers when scanning for what interests or attracts them and what we really want them to read. 

This is my strategy list. You may have your own. As with everything design, it depends. Research and use what you know will work – then test it!

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