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.
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:
- Evidence Viners’ heritage.
- Tell Viners’ story.
- Add value with a Viners’ quality and guarantee.
- 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?
Copy Text Update
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:
- Offer a low-effort, high-impact solution or summary.
- Promote the value proposition early.
- 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.
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!