200 rockets were fired at us last night and they’ve continued through the morning. All public bomb shelters have been opened and prepped and schools are running drills and confirming that all processes are in place. My 4, 5, and 8 year olds have 90 seconds to get to safety when the warning siren goes off, and that’s a long time; my friends closer to the border have 15.

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Sarah Richards and Content Design London regularly publish content around a medical use case, where a panicked parent whose kid has a high fever in the middle of the night, for…


I’ve had the privilege of speaking to UX writing communities around the world. One of the most interesting and exciting parts for me is learning about the different communities’ unique challenges. Lately though, it’s the similarities that made me stop and think. In San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Lausanne, Portugal, and at global conferences, some of the same questions come up again and again.

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I heard a podcast once with Torrey Podmajersky, who said that she was inspired to write her book, Strategic Writing for UX, after sitting down to lunch at a UX writer conference and hearing writers raise challenges…


All microcopy is UXW, not all UXW is microcopy

I love UX writing. All of it. Not just the microcopy.

“Microcopy” is a hot buzzword, and for good reason. UI copy has not gotten enough attention in the past and it’s certainly overdue for some serious recognition, thought, and community to leverage for developing best practices and solving common challenges. However, as a UX writer, writing microcopy is only about 50% of what I do. Here are other aspects of the work that I love.

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Content design

I love working with designers to make sure the design fits the copy and not just the other way around. …


Providing just the right amount of information in your microcopy

You’re writing a new screen and you have so much you can say. You can manage expectations for the flow; you can deep dive into value props; you can take the space to build rapport and really express your voice; and so much more. So how do you decide how much to say? How much is so much that they won’t read a thing, and how much is so little that you’ll come off cryptic and leave them more confused than before they started reading?

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Everything necessary and nothing else

Give your users the information they need. Don’t leave them stranded or guessing. Concise is…


I’m often asked, “We don’t have a UX writer — what should we do?” The answer is simple: Hire one! But when that’s not possible, what can the stakeholders do who end up writing the product copy? Sometimes that’s product owners or designers or developers. It can also be marketers and technical writers. In some companies it’s simply anyone who speaks the language of the interface. I’ve collected some tips for people who find themselves in this position.

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Ask if it’s clear, concise, helpful

This may seem pretty basic but when you treat this dogma as a checklist, you might find yourself making revisions. Maybe you…


Putting your users’ needs (and words) first

When I was a stupid teenager, we had a thing where we’d add “in bed” to fortunes in fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants. “You will have much success this year… in bed”. “Great things will come to you if you are open to them… in bed”. Teenagers 🤷‍♀️

It just struck me that there’s a parallel in the world of UX writing/content design and best practices. To every best practice, add, “if it serves your users”. “Be concise… if it serves your users”. “Use plain language if it serves your users”. And so on.

Concise

I’ve been saying this about “be…


Nuggets of wisdom I took away from the talks — not comprehensive summaries

This is how much fun we all had speaking at (and participating in!) Button

Vicki Siolos: Generating impact as a team of one

  • When seeking feedback, don’t ask stakeholders, “What do you think?” Ask yes/no questions to protect against stakeholders’ bias and get the most productive, focused, useful feedback.
  • When writing for a multilingual interface, Google translate your copy into another language to check length, and then translate it BACK to the original language for insight into alternatives that may work better, even in the original language. In other words, take an English string, translate to German, then take the German and translate it BACK into English, and that final output may include material improvements over what you had written originally.
  • Apply your…


Button 2020 — THE product content conference

Woah!

The first Button conference for product content just ended and it was a smashing success. Out of breath from all of the thoughts and feels wrestling their way into words at once, I babbled at my husband over dinner Friday night, waves of half sentences containing double thoughts. There was just so much going on.

The main thing was community. The exceptional warmth of the community at Button was unexpected, I think , even by the people who planned it. So much thought and creativity was put into creating community against the many odds that include, of course, the conference…


How technical constraints shape microcopy

The words users see on the screen are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to UX writing. There is so much going on under the surface that the end-user doesn’t know. I am reminded of this time and time again when I see screenshots of microcopy on social media with long threads trashing them as so obviously off the mark, so obviously in violation of basic rules, when there are 101 reasons that the string that ended up in production is actually the very best choice out there. …


Summary of a panel discussion at UX Salon Words 2020

At the UX Salon Words 2020 conference yesterday, I had the awesome opportunity to moderate a panel about starting a career in UX writing! Jen Schaefer of Netflix, Roy West previously of Uber and Google, and Nora Ginio of Wix shared their invaluable insights! Here are some takeaways if you couldn’t make it.

When you’re hiring, what are you looking for?

Writing samples. Well crafted, thoughtful writing can be more important than the resume itself. There still aren’t many rich UX writing resumes out there so writing samples are a great way to show your skills. Journalistic, documentation, and other types of writing samples work. From there it’s…

Yael Ben-David

UX writer specializing in complex products. Passionate about making tech accessible to mass markets. Also a proud em dash enthusiast.

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