I am not a words monkey. I am a UX writer.

Lorem ipsum is dead. Or so I thought. So I hoped. But lately I’ve discovered that this isn’t as true as it should be.

Whether you call us UX writers, content strategists or content designers, we do so much more than write words. Like software engineers are not code monkeys, we are not words monkeys — our work requires research and strategic thinking and a holistic perspective on the flow, user journey, and product.

We are stakeholders to be looped in at the very beginning, together with the designers and the rest of the team. We are not an afterthought or a service provider to be caught up down the road because we do not work in a vacuum: We do not fill in lorem ipsum in a final design.

Our perspective is valuable and will benefit the product most if considered in the most formative stages. Here are a few reasons why.

We Have a Comprehensive Perspective

  • We are spread across more teams than any other stakeholder so at any given time, we have a better idea of what’s going on with other products in the company than any single PM, designer or developer. We are on all of the teams all the time, while other steakholders work on only a piece of it.
  • We work more closely with Marketing than anyone else on the team so we know what messaging our users are getting before they meet our product, including what campaigns are currently active. We have insight into the users’ expectations and headspace, which should be taken into consideration in the very earliest planning stages.
  • We hang out with Support. We listen to how our users talk, which means we know what they talk about. If you want to understand your users’ pain, no one can give that to you like your writer (on the product team, I mean. Obvi Support themselves are goldmine but they are not as integrally involved in the building of each feature. They have users to take care of). No matter how much usertesting.com you do, you’ll never get insights as valuable as listening to real users, using the real product, regularly, over time.

Our Contribution is Fundamental

Imagine a button without any text, or a signup form with no field labels. Without content, there is no UX/UI. There is no product. And there definitely won’t be any users.

Content is core to the user experience. Building a product without it is like designing and building a car, using paper towel rolls as placeholders for the wheels, and asking the writer to fill them in at the end. Copy is not upholstery — it’s wheels.

The space left for the wheels might not be right because you decided to hold the place with paper towel rolls. Will you create a better car by forcing the wheels to fit in that space at the end, or by asking for wheel design at the earliest possible stage to make sure all of the parts work together synergistically? There is a back and forth between copy and design and when there’s only back and no forth, the product suffers.

We Have Unique Expertise

It’s not enough to ask for wheels up front. The team must explore together which wheels go where. Content design, information architecture, content hierarchy, is a huge part of our expertise.

  • We know how content is consumed, whether a title-subtitle-text structure will convey given content most effectively, or whether a different format will alleviate cognitive load. You can’t optimize usability without us. Just sticking words in pre-set containers creates a bad UX.
  • We know the best practices and conventions for content design that our users are used to. Don’t re-educate them, they’ll hate you for it. We know what content structures are passé and which are en vogue. The way you organize your content says a lot about your brand and without us you’ll send all kinds of subliminal messages you don’t mean to.

Want to make your product great? Leverage your UX writer, early and often. Have a back and forth, not only a back. Help them help you because we want to make products great and we know how.

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