UX Writing is Content Strategy + Copywriting

I first began paying attention to the term UX writing in late 2016. Kristina Bjoran, my brilliant friend and colleague, was writing a piece: “What is UX Writing,” and for the first time I understood why people were differentiating it from copywriting. While copywriting isn’t always a part of content strategy, UX writing is content strategy.

Last week at Confab 2018 there were more talks about UX Writing than ever before. What does this mean for the content strategy community?

We’re Not Copywriters Anymore

When I started working in content strategy, the big concern was that we were being mistaken for copywriters. Content strategists brought so much more to the table than just plugging in copy, and we needed to let people know.

More recently, the conversation has shifted. Many organizations recognize the value of planning for content, strategizing, even maintaining it. But this seems to happen mostly around long-form content. When it comes to microcopy and creating content that directly impacts transactional experiences, there’s still something missing.

UX Writing is Content Strategy + Copywriting

A year ago I might have said that copywriting is not a part of content strategy. Though there are plenty of content strategists who write copy, it’s not a requirement. Today, I feel differently.

At Confab this year the connections between content strategy and UX Writing were clear.

  • Content is communication. Abby Covert spoke about the value of clear language in helping improve communication. This has always been a part of the internal work content strategists do. Now it’s transitioning to a way that we write content as well.
  • Voice interfaces are increasing. Both Phillip Hunter and a team from Microsoft spoke about the opportunities presenting themselves in voice interfaces. When design is language, content strategists need to be top of their game. UX writing is the deliverable we need to implement content strategy practices in voice technology.
  • Microcopy is part of UX design. Andrew Schmidt, from Slack, addressed the question head on: how is microcopy different? It’s the way we communicate in transactional experiences. It’s why we need UX writers, who understand content strategy and UX and can deliver copy.

Content Strategy is Still More than Copy

Content strategy encompasses all forms of communication: longform copy, videos, surveys, forms, images, and more. We need metadata, structured content, and information architecture. We also need UX Writing. It’s the next phase in our evolution.

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