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UX/UI Careers Series: UX Copywriting

skills Nov 02, 2021
UX/UI Careers Series: UX Copywriting

One of the best parts of working in UX/UI is the diversity of career paths available. Although junior designers often start their careers as generalists, you can pursue many other specializations.

One up-and-coming UX/UI specialization is UX copywriting. UX copywriters (also called UX writers) handle the textual portion of a design. 

Pretty much every app, website, or interface features written copy of some kind. After all, language is one of the most efficient ways we have to communicate with end-users. UX copywriters are in charge of this communication— they craft the words you see throughout a design, including buttons, tutorials, confirmation messages, and errors. Their writing helps guide users as they interact with a product.

Compared to other UX roles, UX copywriting is fairly new and often misunderstood. In this installment of The Guac, we’ll answer all of your UX copywriting questions, including: 


  • What does a UX writer do? 
  • How much does a UX copywriter make? 
  • How can I become a UX writer?  


Ready to learn more about this exciting UX/UI career path? Read on!


UX Copywriting Overview

First, let’s discuss what a UX copywriting career has to offer. 


UX Copywriting Salary

UX copywriters are very well compensated. While general UX designers make about $74,500 annually in the United States, InVision reports that UX/UI writers bring in an average of $110,652.80 per year. Holy Guacamole!


UX Copywriting Demand

Although they may not be as numerous as typical UX/UI design roles, UX copywriting jobs are definitely on the rise. At the time of writing, searching for “ux copywriter” jobs yielded over 6,300 results on LinkedIn. And, because UX copywriting goes by many names, there are likely several hundred similar positions available under “ux writing,” “content design,” and more. 

 Why are UX copywriters such a hot commodity? Writing, like coding, is a “unicorn skill” in the design world. It’s hard to find UX/UI professionals who understand the design process and have a knack for words. When companies do find such a unicorn, they want to keep them around. A chunky salary is a great tool for retention! 

 UX writers are especially good at making user tasks easier and more intuitive, which can produce impressive results. For example, one video-creation app found that by changing a button to read “export” instead of “publish,” better UX copywriting increased video volume by 10% in a single day! Any profit-motivated company is willing to pay employees who produce these kinds of results.


So What Exactly Does a UX Copywriter Do? 

People tend to assume that UX copywriters don’t have much work to do. Mobile apps and websites seem so minimalistic these days, and some folks wonder how much writing is really necessary to build a successful product. 

 Just as creating prototypes is only one part of a UX designer’s job, writing text is just one part of UX copywriting. Here are the many duties a UX/UI writer may handle day to day:


User Research

Like all UX professionals, UX writers make data-driven, user-centered decisions. As such, UX copywriters often participate in the user research and analysis process, evaluating users’ needs so they can craft more effective copy.


Crafting and Following Style Guides

UX/UI designers must adhere to established guidelines to ensure their creations fit within their company’s or client’s visual identity. In other words, their designs must jive with the look and feel of the brand they’re working for, including colors, sizing, iconography, and more. 

 The same is true for written content. UX writers must uphold a brand’s image through the voice and style of their writing. Should the writing be formal or informal? Should it be witty or serious? 

 Often, UX writers also work to establish these guides in the first place, writing out instructions that help other team members stay on-brand. 


Writing Microcopy

This is a UX copywriter’s most obvious duty. UX writers are responsible for all of the words in a design, including buttons, menus, labels, and so much more. Since these pieces of text are relatively short, they’re called “microcopy,” but they still have a huge impact on a user’s experience with a product. 

 UX copywriters might also write slightly longer copy, including:

  • Emails, especially related to purchase confirmations or other parts of a product’s functionality
  • Chatbot scripts
  • Pop-up messages
  • Product tutorials
  • Confirmations and error messages
  • Form labels and instructions

The best UX copy/microcopy becomes “invisible” to the user. It’s so natural and effective that it blends in with the rest of the design. Rather than being a slog to read, the user picks up the information without realizing they’re reading at all.

 A single word can make or break a design, and as such, writing 3 or 4 words of microcopy can be just as hard as writing 3-4 pages of regular content! 


Other Duties

The list goes on. UX writers can also assist with writing instructional materials, like longer user guides and manuals. They may even work alongside technical writers to write how-to guides for complicated products and software.

 UX copywriters often participate in usability testing to ensure their copy is up to scratch. UX design is an iterative process, and UX writing is no different. UX writers sometimes use conversation mining and A/B testing to improve their work as well. 

 Sometimes, UX copywriters support other UX deliverables. They may polish other team member’s writing on personas and interview scripts, cleaning up mistakes before they get presented to stakeholders. A UX copywriter’s knack for written communication (and good grammar!) can help clarify and focus their whole team’s efforts. 


Copywriting vs. UX Copywriting

 You may be wondering, what is the difference between copywriting and UX copywriting?

 Good question! It’s easy to get these two types of writing mixed up. 

 Essentially, UX copywriters focus on the words within the product. This includes language that’s part of the user interface or part of the user’s experience while interacting with the product. 

 In comparison, regular copywriters focus on the words about the product. They might craft marketing emails and blogs to raise customer awareness and increase sales. 

 Depending on the context, UX copywriting and regular copywriting may have nothing to do with one another, or their duties may overlap. Smaller companies sometimes hire only one or two people to handle all of their copywriting needs.

 Meanwhile, larger companies often hire many UX/UI writers and a separate copywriting team that focuses solely on ads, social media, or PR. It all depends on where you work!


The Many Names & Faces of UX Writing

As we mentioned above, UX copywriters go by many names. If you decide to pursue this career path, don’t be surprised to find UX copywriting jobs with alternative titles, like UX writer, content strategist, content designer, and more.

 Many professionals have strong (and well-justified) opinions about what these titles mean and why they shouldn’t be used synonymously. You can learn more about the debate in this article from UX Collective. 

 At the end of the day, it’s still important to know what titles hiring managers use so you can find relevant opportunities. We use “UX copywriting” in this article because it’s common among job postings on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. As Juliet would say, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!


UX Writing Career Paths

UX/UI writers come from many backgrounds. Some people transition to UX writing after working in journalism, marketing, or freelance copywriting. When changing industries, writers must take the time to learn design principles and the research process to ensure their work is user-centric.

Other times, UX design generalists realize they love writing microcopy and work their way to a UX writing specialization. This transition is pretty natural, but UX designers still have to learn best practices for designing and writing good UX copy. 

 Finally, many UX copywriters come from completely unrelated backgrounds, such as nursing or teaching. Almost anyone can become a UX writer with enough practice!

 Intrigued? Here are the basic steps to start a UX writing career: 


How to Become a UX Copywriter


1. Brush up on writing basics 

First, make sure you’re comfortable with the conventions of your language. Even microcopy needs to be correct, and you don’t want rusty grammar and spelling skills when embarking on a UX writing career. Take time to practice concision, too. The best UX content is often the briefest.


2. Pay attention to written in-product content around you

A great way to dip your toes in UX writing is to analyze the written content in the products you use every day. 

If you’re already a UX designer, you may have a UXer’s habit of picking apart every usability hiccup you encounter. Extend that critical eye to copy! Where does the writing seem clunky? Where does it become a helpful, yet “invisible,” part of the design?


3. If you’re already a UX designer, take on as many writing-oriented projects and tasks as you can 

Already a UX/UI professional? Brilliant! Then you know how important it is to get practice through hands-on project experience. 

 In your organization or in your free time, look for opportunities to try copywriting. Ask your UX writing team if you can pitch in with their current workload. If you don’t have this kind of flexibility at work, consider this free UX Writing Challenge from UX Writing Hub. It’s a four-week, low stakes project to help you get started.  


4. If you’re not a UX pro, start by learning the UX design process

If you’re not a UXer yet, don’t worry. There are many ways you can learn UX copywriting! Check out a few free UX learning opportunities online to explore the basics. Then, consider following a more formal, project-oriented UX learning pathway. Bootcamps like Avocademy are a great way to pick up UX skills quickly and affordably. 

As you learn UX design, be sure to focus on how UX writing fits into the process. During your program, try to choose projects that are writing-oriented, and ask your teachers or mentors for other ways to incorporate UX writing into your coursework. Depending on the learning path you choose, you can also look for writing-specific classes to support your UX education.


 5. Work on projects to build your UX writing portfolio

After you’ve learned basic UX design/writing principles, it’s time to start tackling practice projects! Your learning program should have project opportunities built into the curriculum. If not, check out this article for ways to get more UX experience under your belt.


6. Connect with other UX writers for advice and feedback

As you work through projects, it’s absolutely essential that you speak to other UX writing professionals. If you can, try to find a UX copywriter who is willing to provide feedback on your work and your portfolio. 

Networking is also an important step to finding job opportunities. Remember to always be respectful of other UX professionals’ time and knowledge, and as your career progresses, pay it forward to the next UX/UI generation!


 7. Apply to Jobs!

Put that portfolio to work! Apply to as many relevant UX writing jobs as you can, and be patient. It can take up to three months of steady applying to start landing interviews, and six months or more to land that first role. We promise it’s worth the wait! 

With persistence and feedback from a trusted mentor, you can become a UX writer faster than you think.


Is UX Copywriting “Write” for You?

It can be hard to decide which UX career path that best suits your skills and interests. At Avocademy, we recommend students start as UX generalists before choosing a specialization so they have time to learn about themselves and the field. 

However, if UX writing is calling your name, try digging deeper into the practice by reading a few UX writing books. Learning more about the nature of the work will help you decide which path to take. 

Want to transition to UX design, or maybe even UX copywriting? Not sure where to start? Schedule a free UX mentorship session! We’d be happy to chat with you about this lovely and loquacious career. 

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