What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (2023)

Interested in becoming a UX writer? Or just curious what they do? Here’s everything you need to know.

It’s been 57 years since Dylan crooned about how times were changing. Now we’re just getting started into the year 2022, and I think we can agree that times are a-changin’ faster than ever. Jobs like mail carrier, travel agent, dispatcher, and lumberjack are being replaced by things like data science manager, solar power consultant, and blockchain developer. But there’s one rapidly growing new position that has both a low barrier of entry and enormous career potential. Interested? Allow me to introduce you to UX writing.

What is UX writing?

UX writing is the art of crafting the texts that appear throughout the interface of digital products (websites, mobile apps, etc.). Just as in the world of traditional publishing, this text is referred to as copy. But UX writing differs from copywriting in that it aims to guide the user through the interface in an intuitive manner.

As the apps and websites that we use become increasingly complex, the need for clear guidance within them also grows. But more than that, as these digital products become more a part of our daily lives, we as users seek out those that give us the most natural and fluid experience. These changes in the way we interact with technology have led to the creation of UX writing as a discipline in its own right.

If you want to take a deep dive into what UX writing is and how to do it, check out our reading list: 11 Outstanding Books for UX Writers.

What does a UX writer actually do?

On the surface, UX writers craft the copy found throughout a digital product. This includes the text on buttons, menus, error messages, and more. We call these small pieces of text microcopy.

In a more general sense, UX writers are tasked with delivering the messaging of the product from the inside out—everything from product pages and emails, to button copy and push notifications.

To do this effectively, they must acquire a deep and thorough understanding of the user and often conduct UX research.

Many UX writers are former or current copywriters. But whereas a copywriter’s job is to help sell a product, a UX writer does more than that. They must give value to users by crafting an experience that will improve their daily lives. Remember how software used to come with a manual? Trust me, it did.

Today, that ‘manual’ is written right into the app itself. This makes it the UX writer’s job to guide the user through the digital experience in an intuitive manner, building a bridge between the user’s needs and the company’s goals.

But UX writers don’t spend the entire day writing microcopy. They also help create the brand or product voice and make sure all content creators in the organization can easily understand and use that voice.

(Video) Design Bootcamps for UX Writers? Ask a UX Writer 1

To do this, UX writers create a content style guide—a company-wide document outlining the writing principles and guidelines for the copy and content of a company’s products.

Finally, in a more philosophical sense, UX writers must fight for their users. So whenever a designer, developer, or product manager suggests something that might be unclear to the user, the UX writer must stand up and say how that feature, task, or project can and should be communicated more clearly.

In the world of product design, getting a UX writer is like when you got your first smartphone; you never understood how much you needed one until you had the chance to work with a talented UX writer.

More than just writing microcopy

Some assume that the role of a UX writer is to create clever error messages like the one pictured below.

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (1)

Though creating fun or funny (but still useful) messages is often part of the job, it’s a much less significant aspect than you might think.

UX writers are essentially product designers who are part of the product design team and help create the website, app, or feature from the outset. They’re part of the team that decides which features to add to the digital product. Some would say the UX writer is the most creative position on the team as they use that creativity to find solutions to problems the end-user would potentially face.

Their main mission is to make digital interfaces easy to use.

For instance, when tasked with writing an error message, the UX writer needs to turn a robotic message like this one.

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (2)

into something less intimidating and more comprehensible. They need to keep in mind the product’s voice and make the message useful. Have a look at this example from Dropbox:

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (3)

A 404 is frustrating for the user, so Dropbox’s writers show us they care and offer alternative solutions.

(Video) A Beginner's Guide To UX Writing (Full Guide)

This kind of creative problem solving is just part of a UX writer’s daily routine. It’s no surpise, then, that creative block can creep up from time to time! But it’s just as beatable as it is for every other creative.

The role of UX writers in product teams around the world

Surprised that a job like this exists? So were many companies until recently. Yet companies such as Wix, Booking, and Google—who had the foresight to understand the value of the UX writer—are thriving.

These companies provide their customers with products that make their lives easier, due in no small part to the influence that UX writers have had on those products.

Booking.com, for example, has a UX writer for every 5 or 6 designers. By contrast, Oracle has been slower to adapt, with a ratio that’s close to 100:1—and their product suffers for it.

Even though they’re completely different types of products, we can still compare their sign-up forms. Here’s the one from Booking.com.

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (4)

And here’s the one from Oracle. Which service would you prefer to sign up for?

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (5)

Multiple fields increase drop-out rates. UX teams (including writers) must find user-friendly ways to register users, taking advantage of available technologies (e.g. using Facebook or Google accounts).

As companies realize the value of having a dedicated UX writer as part of the product team, more and more positions for UX writers are being created and filled. For example, Booking.com has gone from 20 UX writers to 60 in less than a year, and Wix has a writing guild with about the same number of full-time writers.

Many other companies are realizing that having a single writer in the product team and a few in the marketing department just isn’t enough. This is driving an exponential increase in the hiring of UX writers.

How do you know if UX writing is for you?

If you put 10 UX writers together in a room, you’ll likely find you’ve got 10 people from 10 different professional backgrounds. One might come from a background in journalism, while another has a Ph.D. in Physics (one of UX Writing Hub’s UX writing students actually). I even know an architect who now works as a UX writer!

This is because UX writing is a relatively new discipline, but one with a large and growing demand. As such, we see people from a wide range of backgrounds who are getting into a field that presents them with so many opportunities.

(Video) Essential UX Writer Skills 2022

The commonality among UX writers seems to be that there is no commonality, leaving the door open to nearly anyone interested and motivated. That being said, here are some important qualities and skills for a UX writer to possess.

A designer’s mindset

Design isn’t about aesthetics—it’s about making products function well. The designer’s mindset is one of problem-solving. For example, when a UX writer registers for a new online service, they should think “how can this experience be improved?”

Active listening

Working in UX requires that you put your ego aside and remain open to different ideas and suggestions. It’s not about you—it’s about the alignment of user needs and business goals. This means you must be able to put your ego aside, listen to feedback, and remain open to new ideas.

Interpersonal relationships

As a UX writer, you will have to coordinate between UX designers, product managers, developers, and even stakeholders. Building deep relationships with them is a critical part of the job.

Constant learner

Unlike accounting, which has been around for hundreds of years, UX writing is still developing with the help of the community. There are many online UX writing groups where you can participate in discussions or just stay in the loop. UX writing methodologies are developing rapidly, so writers must take it upon themselves to stay abreast of these developments.

How can you get a job as a UX writer?

Given the rate at which UX writing is growing today, companies are set to hire thousands of UX writers in the next few years. If you’ve got the feeling that the best time to become a UX writer was yesterday, you’re not far off. So perhaps you’re wondering how to start.

There are many resources available for aspiring UX writers, with more springing up every day.

The following are some of my favorites:

Explore the field and when you feel ready, consider some formal/structured training.

You may want a general UX design course to learn the basics, or perhaps a UX writing course. These courses let you work with a mentor who will guide your development and help you get the experience needed to land your first job. There aren’t any shortcuts!

To get an inside look at a UX writing course graduate’s experience, check out this review: I Took the Course at UX Writing Hub—Here’s My Honest Review.

How much can a UX writer expect to earn?

UX writing is so new that there isn’t a lot of data about salaries. For this reason, we recently carried out and published an industry survey of 440 UX writers from 25 different countries. What did we discover? Many things—from the most common job titles to whether UX writers were primarily working at agencies or tech companies. Of most interest to you, though, is probably the fact that junior UX writers earn an average of $75K in the USA, while seniors stand to earn an average of just under $125K. Not bad!

As a UX designer, I believe that the roles of product designer and UX writer are complementary. When our UX Writing Hub course graduates apply for UX writing positions, I tell them to ask for as much as the UX designers make.

(Video) UX Writing Explained | How to write microcopy

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a UX designer is $90.6K.

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (6)

Content strategists and UX writers overlap in their responsibilities, with the former earning $60K a year. According to Neuvoo, a UX writer in California can earn up to $120K a year.

What Does A UX Writer Actually Do? (2022 UX Writing Guide) (7)

As a junior (and as our survey suggests), don’t expect that kind of salary immediately. In the long term, however, getting into this field now will be worth your while; I expect the salary of experienced UX writers will easily reach six figures before long.

What’s included in a UX writer’s portfolio?

UX writing portfolios are not entirely dissimilar from UX design portfolios. When hiring someone for any UX position, employers don’t look solely at experience—they want to see creative problem-solving. This usually comes by way of summaries and examples of projects worked on with case studies about solutions the writer or designer has implemented.

When I was just starting out as a UX designer without any projects under my belt, I would take products that I used daily, such as Google Maps, Tinder, or Spotify, and create solutions to problems in those apps.

I thought about a Spotify feature to help people organize music for parties or how to design a feature on Tinder that allowed for double dates. If you’ve got an idea to improve an app, take a few screenshots, document your solution, and add it to your portfolio.

If you’re having trouble thinking of an improvement to an existing product, sign up for our UX Writing Challenge and create a project for a gardening app in less than 2 weeks.

To get a better idea of what goes into a portfolio, check out this list of the top UX writing portfolios. Get inspired!

Ready to start your own? Here are some platforms that let you build a portfolio with ease—no code required:

If you’re considering a career in UX writing, there is truly no better time than the present. The addition of a dedicated UX writer to product teams represents a huge shift in the UX industry. Starting now as a UX writer means you’ll have seniority in the years to come as more and more companies hire more and more writers.

We still have a long way to go before technology companies begin to value writers on the same level as they do designers—but don’t let that discourage you. Instead of seeing this as a problem, look at it as an opportunity to start a challenging and rewarding new career.

(Video) How to Get Into UX Writing

Further Reading

  • What is UX writing and why does it matter?
  • The best UX writing courses (and how to pick one)
  • Here’s how to amp up your UX writing skills
  • What is a full-stack designer?

FAQs

What does a UX writer actually do? ›

A UX writer plans and writes the microcopy in apps, websites, and other digital products users need to navigate a product. A user experience (UX) writer creates copy for apps, websites, and other digital products that help users navigate the product.

What are UX writing skills? ›

"UX writing is crafting copy (or text) that guides the user through their experience of a product, service, application, or interface." Think about the words that welcome you when you open a downloaded app for the first time or the error messages you receive while tinkering with your favorite software.

Is UX writing difficult? ›

As a UX writer, it's extremely difficult to communicate tasks in a simple manner and embed empathy when the language isn't designed to do so. It's hard to build trust with users and be concise when words play games and meanings can easily shift when out of context.

How much do UX writers make? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $196,500 and as low as $64,500, the majority of UX Writer salaries currently range between $93,500 (25th percentile) to $139,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $164,000 annually across the United States.

What does a UX writer do in a day? ›

More than just writing microcopy

UX writers are essentially product designers who are part of the product design team and help create the website, app, or feature from the outset. They're part of the team that decides which features to add to the digital product.

Can UX writers work alone? ›

UX writing is all about crafting words to guide a person (user) through an app or a website. Unlike content writers, we can't work alone to get our job done. We work very closely with designers to ensure we're creating a clear and concise user experience across digital products. A designer with words, if you will.

Is UX writing fun? ›

Like I said in the beginning, the gold standard of UX writing puts the "fun" in functional and the "art" in smart. Each word in these examples serves a purpose — either solving a problem for users or eliciting a desired emotional response. Every UX writer knows that the shorter something is, the harder it is to write.

What is the difference between UX writer and copywriter? ›

UX writers and copywriters are two different roles with unique skills and strengths, but these roles are often intermixed up with each other. A UX writer writes with a focus on UX design to enhance user experience, while a copywriter writes to market and promote business sales.

How long does it take to learn UX writing? ›

UX Bootcamps can take anywhere between 2 to 10 months to complete. In general, UX bootcamps introduce students to basic UX concepts and guide them through projects so they can begin building a portfolio. Some programs also include career mentorship and the chance to work with real clients.

How much do junior UX writers make? ›

According to Comparably, a junior UX writer in the US earns an average pay of $55k annually. However, the highest recorded salary for a junior UX writer was $66k per year, while the lowest went to $44k per year in the United States.

Is UX writing technical writing? ›

Technical writing and UX writing are similar in many ways; however, the primary difference is that a tech writer looks into the product text, features, and what it does. In contrast, UX writers have their own way of writing, which is concerned with labels, tooltips, properties, in-app text, and onboarding flow charts.

How much do UX writers make at Google? ›

Google Salary FAQs

The salary trajectory of an UX writer ranges between locations and employers. The salary starts at $116,358 per year and goes up to $153,800 per year for the highest level of seniority.

Can UX writers work remotely? ›

Remote UX writing is the default with freelance UX writing

Freelance is the ultimate hack to remote UX writing.

How many hours a week does a UX writer work? ›

Working as a UX designer may require you to work 50–60 hours per week or more and spend long days in front of the computer screen.

How do I make a UX writing portfolio with no experience? ›

5 Ways to find projects for your UX portfolio without experience
  1. Conduct an unsolicited redesign. ...
  2. Design to fix a real user problem. ...
  3. Volunteer your UX skills for free. ...
  4. Take a UX design course. ...
  5. Consider a UX internship.
7 Feb 2022

Why hire a UX writer? ›

So why hire a UX writer? Because, same as design, writing is a craft. Among other things, a UX writer will align your UX content with your brand voice (or create a brand voice). They'll create an emotional connection with your users and give your product a personality, too.

Are UX writers in demand? ›

As UX professionals have come to understand the importance of writing in user experience, UX writing has become an increasingly in-demand skill. Most large tech companies now have UX writing (sometimes called content design) teams, and those that don't often find that their UX suffers for it.

How do you transition to UX writing? ›

Here are five key steps you'll need to take if you want to land a job as a UX writer: Connect with other UX writers. Get the basics down by taking a course.
...
Connect with other UX writers
  1. Microcopy & UX Writing (the biggest UX writing community on Facebook)
  2. Microcopy and UX Writing LinkedIn group.
  3. UX Writing Hub newsletter.
23 Nov 2021

Can I be self employed UX designer? ›

Every freelance UX designer has a unique path to success. For instance, one might start their career as a freelancer, building their portfolio as they go along. Another might work in full-time salaried employment to gain experience and then launch their freelance practice as a mid-career professional.

Should designers write copy? ›

Make your design and copy work together

Your design should support your copy. Ensuring that your design and the copy you write work together is essential to creating content that people actually want to read. When creating your design, be sure to consider how it will support your copy.

How do you write UX content? ›

While it's impossible to provide universal rules for writing UI text, it's possible to provide some general rules that can help you create better UX.
  1. Be concise. ...
  2. Avoid long blocks of text. ...
  3. Avoid double negatives. ...
  4. Begin with the objective. ...
  5. Use specific verbs whenever possible. ...
  6. Make the copy consistent. ...
  7. Avoid jargon.
26 Jun 2018

What does a senior UX writer do? ›

Role Responsibility

Be the voice of UX Writing in project teams, explaining your rationale to developers, editorial staff and product managers. Collaborate with designers, researchers, product managers, marketers and engineers. Turn complex concepts into clear, concise, compelling copy.

Do you need to be a UX designer to be a UX writer? ›

UX writers are, first and foremost, UX professionals. They apply their writing skills in the very specific context of product design, so they must have expert knowledge of UX design principles and how the product design process works.

How do you break into writing? ›

7 Great Ways to Break into Freelance Writing
  1. Win writing contests. ...
  2. Write for the alternative press. ...
  3. Write for daily papers. ...
  4. Write for small, regional papers and magazines. ...
  5. Write for local nonprofits or small businesses. ...
  6. Write online content. ...
  7. Write a couple free samples. ...
  8. Take a class.

Do UX writers write emails? ›

Because of their importance to customer experience, transactional emails increasingly are becoming the job of UX writers, especially at large companies. At a small company, you're probably writing both types of email.

How much does a UX copywriter make? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $152,000 and as low as $53,000, the majority of UX Copywriter salaries currently range between $70,500 (25th percentile) to $137,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $144,500 annually across the United States.

Which is better content writing or technical writing? ›

Planning and time management skills are equally important for both occupations. Technical writers have a documentation plan while content writers are building their work process around a content plan. Communicative skills are important for content writing and technical writing.

What is the difference between UX writer and copywriter? ›

UX writers and copywriters are two different roles with unique skills and strengths, but these roles are often intermixed up with each other. A UX writer writes with a focus on UX design to enhance user experience, while a copywriter writes to market and promote business sales.

Is UX writing fun? ›

Like I said in the beginning, the gold standard of UX writing puts the "fun" in functional and the "art" in smart. Each word in these examples serves a purpose — either solving a problem for users or eliciting a desired emotional response. Every UX writer knows that the shorter something is, the harder it is to write.

Is UX writing technical writing? ›

Technical writing and UX writing are similar in many ways; however, the primary difference is that a tech writer looks into the product text, features, and what it does. In contrast, UX writers have their own way of writing, which is concerned with labels, tooltips, properties, in-app text, and onboarding flow charts.

Why hire a UX writer? ›

So why hire a UX writer? Because, same as design, writing is a craft. Among other things, a UX writer will align your UX content with your brand voice (or create a brand voice). They'll create an emotional connection with your users and give your product a personality, too.

Do UX writers write emails? ›

Because of their importance to customer experience, transactional emails increasingly are becoming the job of UX writers, especially at large companies. At a small company, you're probably writing both types of email.

How much does a UX copywriter make? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $152,000 and as low as $53,000, the majority of UX Copywriter salaries currently range between $70,500 (25th percentile) to $137,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $144,500 annually across the United States.

Which is better content writing or technical writing? ›

Planning and time management skills are equally important for both occupations. Technical writers have a documentation plan while content writers are building their work process around a content plan. Communicative skills are important for content writing and technical writing.

Are UX writers in demand? ›

As UX professionals have come to understand the importance of writing in user experience, UX writing has become an increasingly in-demand skill. Most large tech companies now have UX writing (sometimes called content design) teams, and those that don't often find that their UX suffers for it.

How do I make a UX writing portfolio with no experience? ›

5 Ways to find projects for your UX portfolio without experience
  1. Conduct an unsolicited redesign. ...
  2. Design to fix a real user problem. ...
  3. Volunteer your UX skills for free. ...
  4. Take a UX design course. ...
  5. Consider a UX internship.
7 Feb 2022

Should designers write copy? ›

Make your design and copy work together

Your design should support your copy. Ensuring that your design and the copy you write work together is essential to creating content that people actually want to read. When creating your design, be sure to consider how it will support your copy.

What is the difference between a UX writer and technical writer? ›

UX writers and content designers work specifically user journeys and copy in digital interfaces. A big part of the job is to research, create and test user flows and microcopy. Technical writers on the other hand work with text in all types of documentation, often more text-heavy stuff.

How do I improve my UX writing skills? ›

Improving UX Writing
  1. Use Simple Tenses. Use active voice to make your writing clearer and more concise. ...
  2. Write in Active Voice. Use active voice to make your writing clearer and more concise. ...
  3. Address the User Directly. ...
  4. Use First-Person Pronouns. ...
  5. Write Minimal Text. ...
  6. Avoid Technical Jargon. ...
  7. Use Action Words.
20 Apr 2020

How do I become a UX technical writer? ›

How to Become a UX Writer?
  1. Learn Writing Skills. This is a very basic tip but the most important one. ...
  2. Become a Microcopy Enthusiast. ...
  3. Learn and Understand UX Design. ...
  4. Research About User-Centered Design. ...
  5. Keep Yourself Updated with Market Trends. ...
  6. Join a UX Writing Course. ...
  7. Study UX Writing Rules. ...
  8. Sharpen Your Skills by Spec-Work.

How do you interview a UX writer? ›

The trick to any UX writing interview is to make it a conversation. This isn't always within your control but is usually key to moving on to the next point in the process. They should already know that you're capable of doing the job. This is the point where they decide if you would fit in well with the team.

What does a senior UX writer do? ›

Role Responsibility

Be the voice of UX Writing in project teams, explaining your rationale to developers, editorial staff and product managers. Collaborate with designers, researchers, product managers, marketers and engineers. Turn complex concepts into clear, concise, compelling copy.

What is UI UX writing? ›

UX writing is a design discipline

User experience writers write the text you see (or hear) in a user interface (UI). A user interface is where a person (the user) and a computer work together to get something done. It's the place where you (the user) and the computer (interface) meet and interact.

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