UX writers and content designers know there is much more to their work than just words. It’s about crafting an experience that users will find valuable, intuitive, and enjoyable – by using the right words at the right time and place. This is where UX content strategy comes into play.
If you’re a UX writer or content designer, you are likely already incorporating some of the tools of UX content strategy into your work.
This post will help you think more strategically about the skills you use day to day. In this guide, we’ll delve into what UX content strategy is, why it’s important, and how it influences the way we design and create content for digital products.
We’ll learn how UX Content strategy tactics from Mailchimp, Netflix, Airbnb, Microsoft and more.
1. What is UX Content Strategy?
If you’re a UX writer, you may have heard the term UX content strategy. But what exactly is it? As the name suggests, UX content strategy is a framework that guides the creation of content with a clear focus on the needs of the user and the overall user experience.
It ensures that every piece of content serves a purpose and contributes to the larger context of the product.
As UX writers and content designers, we sometimes focus on the fine details and think of our work in an atomized way. What should this button say? Is this pop-up clear?
And of course every detail counts when it comes to user experience.
But all of these details need to be operating in the service of the whole. A solid UX content strategy allows writers to make sure that every piece of content supports the larger context.
2. Putting Users First: The heart of UX content strategy
Effective UX content strategy rests on a deep understanding of the user.
The role of the entire UX field is to consider the user and deliver digital experiences that are pleasurable, useful, and meet the needs of the user.
UX content strategy is about taking a top level view of the product and the user and figuring out what individual pieces of content design will meet their needs and desires.
That means an effective UX content strategy starts with a clear picture of the target user.
And that’s where research comes in, including talking to existing users, conversation mining, competitor research, and other methods for gathering information about your ideal/typical user.
With a clear picture of your user(s), you can craft personas – models based on your data that help you visualize the people who will be using your product.
With these personas in mind, you can think more clearly about what content they will need, want, and expect as they use the product.
For example, Netflix keeps its users front and center by prioritizing personalization. Using algorithms, the company is able to better understand each user’s individual viewing habits and recommend things they are likely to enjoy.
As this post shows, the Top Picks For You section of the interface prioritizes unique recommendations, and helps people find new things they love.
Personalization is used here to surprise and delight users, saving them from endless scrolling and serving up just the right choice.
3. User Journeys: Content for every step
So, you’ve got your user personas. It’s time to walk them through the product.
The combination of personas and user journey is a highly effective tool for UX content strategy because it helps you visualize how different people might experience the product.
Mapping out user journeys allows us to visualize how different users might interact with the product at each step.
This insight helps us determine the type of content needed to guide users seamlessly through the product, from initial engagement to completion of tasks.
There are many in-depth guides to mapping user journeys, but the key take away for UX content strategy is determining what content will be needed at each step of the journey.
This post provides a great example of the user journey of AirBnB.
It offers an overview of the user behavior process, as well as a thorough experience map that charts the user sentiment at every stage of the process – where the experience is positive, and where frustrations might occur.
Working at this level of detail helps determine places of friction and negative experiences so you can address them.
4. Crafting a Consistent Brand Voice
Consistency is key in the digital realm. Establishing a cohesive tone and style not only fosters brand recognition but also builds trust and credibility among users. UX writers and content designers are generally familiar with creating and using brand voice and style guides.
In a way, brand voice is an example of UX content strategy: a set of product-wide guidelines for content that are designed to keep everything consistent and speak directly to the target user.
Mailchimp’s style guide is legendary in the field, and for good reason. It is detailed and clearly written. It also explains terms like voice and tone, so it’s a great example to take a look at for inspiration and education.
If your product does not already have a style guide, creating one is an important step in effective UX content strategy. If you do already have a brand voice guide, use it! Think of it as one of the bibles of your UX content strategy.
5. Collaboration Between UX Designers and Writers
UX content strategy is a collaborative effort between content creators and UX designers. Effective communication and understanding between all team members ensures that content aligns with the product’s design and technological capabilities. By working together, teams can generate more creative ideas and deliver a cohesive user experience.
Designers and developers should take content into account as they create their products. At the same time, UX content strategists and writers must know what is feasible. A great content idea is worthless if it’s not technologically possible or affordable. While it’s helpful for UX content strategists to have some knowledge of UX design, the best way to avoid issues is active communication and collaboration between everyone on the UX team. This ensures everyone is on the same page, and may even lead to more creative ideas from all team members.
6. Accessibility and Inclusivity
No discussion on UX content strategy (or anything UX-related) is complete without addressing accessibility and inclusivity. UX content strategists must consider how to make their products accessible and inclusive. That means creating content that can be clearly understood by all users.
Designing an accessible UX content strategy means considering the abilities of all users. This includes things like making sure text can be read by a screen reader. Research is essential here, as including people with disabilities in your user testing will help ensure that your product works for everyone.
The UX Research team at Booking.com has done great work in this area, and this post from them has many tips for incorporating accessibility into your research process. They emphasize thinking about accessibility from the start, rather than adding it in as an afterthought. They also suggest running small tests often, making adjustments in response to new information. Their product research led them to identify an issue using the calendar navigation with a screen reader (often used by people with visual impairments). Month to month navigation wasn’t possible, which led to an inefficient and frustrating experience for users. Based on this research, they made changes to the product accordingly.
They also recommend the Microsoft Inclusive 101 Guidebook , and adapted some of those materials for the travel context, including this graphic:
Career Foundry describes inclusive writing this way: “Inclusive writing is the process of writing to intentionally include and create welcoming experiences for more people—particularly those from underrepresented groups.” As with accessibility, this is an ongoing process of checking assumptions and making sure to invite as many people as possible into the research and decision-making process.
A good UX content strategy leads to products that are for everyone who wants to use them.
7. Data-driven Content Design
A strategy gets you from one place to another. In order to know whether you’ve succeeded, you need to know where you were trying to go, and how to know when you’ve gotten there. That’s where KPI’s come in.
Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) helps measure the success of UX Content Strategy efforts. By defining clear goals and milestones, teams can track progress and demonstrate the value of their work to stakeholders. Aligning content decisions with overarching objectives ensures that every step contributes to the achievement of strategic goals.
As you embark on your UX content strategy journey, consider what you want to accomplish. Where do you want to go, and how will you know when you’ve gotten there? Then, break that down into smaller goals that are easily measured.
There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of a UX content design strategy. As this post points out, data-driven insights about the effectiveness of copy are a critical tool in the content designers skill set. Content designers can use analytics tools to measure things like click-through rates, time spent on a page and more. These provide important insights on how well a piece of content is working. A/B testing is another useful way to test how well a piece of copy is performing – you create multiple versions, and show one to half your users and the other to the other half. This process can help you understand what is most effective for your users, and measure your success more effectively.
Conclusion: Crafting Compelling Digital Narratives
Understanding UX content strategy is a superpower for UX writers and content designers.
Thinking strategically about the product and user journey as a whole will help you make content design decisions more quickly and effectively.
By understanding UX content strategy principles, collaborating effectively, and staying attuned to user needs, you are well-equipped to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital content creation.