My UI Breakfast podcast (summary)
Because audio content isn’t for everyone
As a content person, I believe it’s valuable to deliver content in different media. I was recently interviewed on a few podcasts and would like to share them as blog posts for those who prefer not to consume audio content. This is not going to be transcripts, rather summaries of the conversations. Hope you enjoy!
The Business of UX Writing on the UI Breakfast podcast with Jane Portman
Below is a summary of the episode that dropped on December 23, 2022. It’s my second time on the podcast — Jane is an absolutely fantastic, talented, and insightful host and it’s always a pleasure to explore UX/UI with her!
Behind the book
Published with A Book Apart who published a lot of my content heroes!
Last time I was on the podcast, I was earlier on in my career and was focused almost entirely on microcopy. Since then I’ve expanded to work on more strategic projects, content ops, and leadership roles, and have been thinking a lot about how content design/UX writing can have a big impact on the business’s bottom line.
I got into UX writing after 10 years in a neuroscience lab so I came in with a data-oriented mindset. At the time there was a lot of discussion in the content design world about “getting a seat at the table” and using data to get that seat made sense to me. So I started diving into it… until I came up with enough to fill a book!
Day to day, I write microcopy in the UI, created a content design system for transactional emails, I write all product flow comms including SMS etc., started a content guild, created a voice and tone guide and style guide and the distribution and education around that… and more! I sit with designers in the UX department, near the product department.
Balancing user and business needs
We UX writers are absolutely loud, loyal, creative advocates for the user and that’s great! That having been said, as a discipline, we’re ready to move past that. We need to shift the paradigm a bit, and instead of framing the relationship between user advocates and business stakeholders as a tense, almost zero-sum game, we need to approach the relationship as a synergistic collaboration, recognizing that really our interests are inherently aligned, and interdependent.
A more successful business can provide a better user experience and more engaged users improve the business. Essentially, the business is a partner in creating optimal user experiences and my book is a lot about how to leverage that framing.
Delight is not superfluous if it helps achieve your goals. The impact of delight might be harder to measure, but if you are clear about what your goals are and delighters can help achieve them, go for it! It can have business value, absolutely.
KAPOW is my UX writing framework to maximize return on investment (ROI).
- Know your goals — be aware of all of the business goals, and then shortlist them through a UXW lens to determine where UXW can have the biggest impact. Then use an adapted RICE framework from the world of product management to shortlist the shortlist. Always work with an informed north star.
- Articulate solutions — start with quantity, a “brain dump”, as a way to get to the highest quality solutions with confidence.
- Prioritize options — you’ll need to decide what to try first because for various reasons, you can’t try everything at once.
- Own your metrics — leverage existing metrics if you have any that are accurate proxies for determining success in relation to a particular goal; do qualitative user research if that’s an option, which is important anyway to get the “why” and not just “what”; and of course, dig into engineering resources available to implement new metrics and look at the opportunity cost — if they do not have bandwidth, why not? What are they doing instead and is it really worth it? Could go either way but you won’t know unless you ask.
- Write — just the tip of the iceberg! The part everyone sees, but so much strategic work goes on first, to make what you write effective. Don’t think of your words as precious, don’t fall in love with the first iteration. Lean into collaborator’s domain expertise. Be humble and curious, seek out feedback.
Don’t get attached to the words for the words’ sake, get attached to the goal.
Read the book for the whole shebang :)
There is a lot of potential for UX writers to have an even bigger impact than “just” writing microcopy, by getting into strategy and leadership and content ops behind the scenes.
Don’t have a UX writer? Stakeholders, whoever is doing the writing in lieu of the writer, can leverage the low cost of getting UXW right. There are resources anyone can tap into to do it better, and every little bit tips the ROI scales in the business’s favor.