ux writers and desigers at the work place

UX Writers and Designers in the Workplace

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Writers and designers: are they bros, foes, or frenemies? Do they go together like cereal and milk, or cereal and orange juice?

Tropicana, you really need to calm it down.

In our annual salary survey, we collected data from over 1200 writers working in tech including UX writers, content designers, technical writers, and more. But we didnโ€™t just ask about money.ย 

In this article, weโ€™ll examine stats about writers and designers in the workplace. Weโ€™ll look at the ratio of writers to designers, how involved writers are in decision-making, how these play out in different countries and sectors, and more.

The first area weโ€™ll look at is the ratio of writers to designers in the workplace.ย 

The writer-to-designer ratio

Historically, weโ€™ve known that writers were heavily outnumbered by designers in tech companies. But as awareness has risen over the past few years, did this translate to a higher ratio of writers/designers on product teams?ย 

Here are the stats with the percentage of respondents on the y-axis and the ratio on the x-axis:

ux writer-to-designer ratio chart

Though we donโ€™t have exact numbers from the previous years, we see that writers arenโ€™t as outnumbered as they once were.

Quick stats (with rough percentages):

  • 10% of writers work on teams with a 1:1 ratio and another 10% with a 1:2 ratio.
  • More than 60% of writers work in a ratio between 1:1 and 1:5.
  • Close to 90% work in a ratio of 1:10 or below.ย 
  • Only 5% of writers work on a team with a very high imbalance of more than 1:20 writers/designers.ย 

The trend seems to be positive for a healthy writer-to-designer ratio, and we can assume more companies now realize the value of having writers (plural!) on their teams.ย 

So how do these ratios influence or correlate with other factors?

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Writers involved in design decisions

Hereโ€™s an interesting one. We asked respondents how involved they are in product design decision-making on a scale of 1โ€“5 (not at all โ€“ very much so).ย 

This number tracks the writer-to-designer ratio fairly closely, especially as the ratio increases. So once we get past the 1:8 ratio, thereโ€™s a close correlation between how involved writers are in making design decisions and the writer/designer ratio. Fewer writers per designer means less involved writers. And there is a sweet spot: the 1:3โ€“1:4 range has writers most involved.

ux Writers involved in design decision chart

Iโ€™d assume this stems from writers in the very high ratios of more than 1:20 being spread too thin. Weโ€™ve heard from many in the past who have been the sole writer across multiple products in a company. Hopefully, these โ€œwriting as an afterthoughtโ€ days are in the past for most companies now.

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Writer/designer and salaries

OK, now for the big one: does the writer/designer ratio affect or correlate with salary? ๐Ÿฅ

The answer is an unsatisfactory โ€œsort of.โ€ Have a look: salary on the y-axis, ratio on the x-axis.ย 

ux writers vs designers salaries chart

The data shows that there isnโ€™t a large correlation between the two. But, in general, the fewer writers to designers, the more they tend to earn until you pass the 1:40 threshold. After that, thereโ€™s a sharp decline.ย 

Itโ€™s a bit hard to say whatโ€™s behind this phenomenon. Writers working at a 1:7 through 1:40 ratio are paid higher salaries on average. Perhaps this is due to the scarcity principle increasing their value in the company.

Writer/designer ratio by country

And what about ratios across countries? Are some countries ahead of others when it comes to a healthy writer/designer balance? Letโ€™s have a look.

This next chart compares four countries: the USA, Israel, Brazil, and Germany (percentage of respondents on the y-axis, ratio on the x-axis).ย 

The overall trends for each country are similar, but we see that Israel leads with smaller ratios, while Brazil and Germany have more writers in the higher percentages.

ux Writer/designer ratio by country chart

If we examine the rage of 1:1โ€“1:3, we see working in this range are:

  • 50% of Israeli writers
  • 33% of American
  • 27% of German
  • and only 21% of Brazilian

Or, looking at the other end of the scale, in the range of more than 1:10, we see:

  • 13% of Brazilians
  • 12% of Germans
  • 12% of Americans
  • 2% of Israelis

So while trends are still improving for a healthy writer/designer ratio, some countries are farther ahead than others.

One last note about ratios: itโ€™s no surprise that the smaller the company, the higher the chance for a low ratio. For example, more than 60% of writers at small tech companies work within a writer/designer ratio of 1:1โ€“1:3, while that number is less than 30% at large companies.

Are writers paid equal to designers?

Another question we asked our 1200+ survey participants was if they earned more or equal to the designers in their companies. Close to 65% of respondents answered that they didnโ€™t know. Almost 25% said that designers make more, while only 12% said writers make the same or more.

This was consistent across most countries, with one major exception. In the UK, 28% said designers make more, and 27% said writers make the same or more.

Company size didnโ€™t affect this number, except at small companies where writers were a bit more likely to be paid equal to designers.

The figures were mostly the same across sectors as well. A few notable exceptions:

  • SaaS: 21% of writers said they were on par with designers, and only 14% said they earned less.
  • Mobility: 17% said they were on par, while 17% said less.
  • Govt sites: same as mobilityโ€”17% each.
  • Delivery: 40% of writers reported being on par with designers, and only 26% said theyโ€™re paid less.

Is UX writing on the rise?

Hereโ€™s one final area weโ€™ll explore. We asked, โ€œIs product writing/UX writing/content design a growing discipline in your company?โ€ (1 Not at all โ€“ 5 very much so)

growth in ux writing chart

The answer is clear: yes, it is.ย 

67% indicate that itโ€™s growing strongly at their companies, while only 13% show little growth for the discipline. Encouraging news, but letโ€™s do some cross-tabulation, just for the olโ€™ heck of it.ย 

The global average score for this question is 3.8. But how do country, sector, and company size influence the score?ย 

UX writing growth by country

Hereโ€™s the list of scores for countries with at least 10 respondents. Latin America shows strong growth with Colombia leading the way. On the other end of the scale, we see the Far East and Africa are lagging.

Is product writing/UX writing/content design a growing discipline in your company? (scale of 1โ€“5)

Country

Source

Colombia

4.7

France

4.3

Australia

4.2

Russia

4.2

Ireland

4.1

Mexico

4.1

Poland

4.1

Sweden

4.1

Argentina

4.0

Canada

4.0

Denmark

4.0

Greece

4.0

Lithuania

4.0

Netherlands

4.0

Israel

3.9

United States of America

3.9

Global

3.8

Brazil

3.8

Finland

3.8

Singapore

3.8

Ukraine

3.8

United Arab Emirates

3.8

United Kingdom

3.8

Austria

3.7

India

3.7

Turkey

3.7

Germany

3.6

Spain

3.6

Chile

3.5

South Korea

3.5

Czechia

3.4

Italy

3.4

Norway

3.4

Portugal

3.4

Hong Kong

3.3

Indonesia

3.2

Nigeria

3.2

Malaysia

3.1

South Africa

2.7

How about field or sector? Is the discipline growing more in some sectors than others?ย 

UX writing growth by sector

While the trend isnโ€™t crystal clear, we do see newer, tech-related sectors are more likely to be at the top (social media, tech, e-commerce, fintech), while the bottom has older sectors (utilities, insurance, arts). Though, there are several exceptions.ย 

One of the most striking finds is that while B2B/SaaS is near the top at 4.4, traditional software is at the bottom at 2.8. As someone who’s written for desktop software in the past, I admit Iโ€™m not too surprised.

Is product writing/UX writing/content design a growing discipline in your company? (scale of 1โ€“5)

Field/Sector

Source

Logistic

5.0

B2B SaaS

4.4

Social media

4.4

Technology

4.4

Entertainment

4.3

Real Estate

4.3

Banking/Finance

4.2

Big data

4.1

Ecommerce

4.0

Fintech

4.0

FoodTech

4.0

Internet of things

4.0

Accounting

3.9

Delivery

3.9

Design

3.9

Event/Hospitality

3.9

Healthcare

3.9

Project management / CRM

3.9

Telecommunications

3.9

Travel

3.9

Average

3.8

EdTech / E-learning

3.8

Sales and marketing

3.8

Automotive

3.7

Cyber

3.7

Government sites

3.7

HR

3.7

Retail

3.7

Mobility

3.5

Manufacturing industry

3.3

Media

3.3

Arts

3.1

Green tech

3.1

Insurance

3.1

Utilities

3.1

Software

2.8

One last table? Sure thing: growth to company size.ย 

No big surprises hereโ€”the larger the company, the more growth.

Is product writing/UX writing/content design a growing discipline in your company? (scale of 1โ€“5)

Company Size

Source

Enterprise (more than 1000 people)

4.0

Large company (200 to 1000 people)

3.8

Medium-sized company (30 to 200 people)

3.5

Small company (up to 30 people)

3.3

Final thoughts

All in all, Iโ€™d say things are moving in the right direction. More companies realize the importance of having writers both on the team and involved in making decisions. But we still have a ways to go. So if youโ€™ll indulge me, Iโ€™ll make my case.

Excuse the gross oversimplification, but human cognition tends to come in two forms: visual and verbal. We think in pictures and in words. All of us do both, and most favor one over the other. So if we want to create products and experiences that are easily processed by all people, we need to have both visual and verbal thinkers involved in creating them. Designer and writers.

Iโ€™ve said it before and Iโ€™ll say it again: writing, more than anything else, is thinking. And the world needs writersโ€”the verbal thinkers.

Writers and designers arenโ€™t milk, cereal, or OJ. Theyโ€™re not friends or enemies. Theyโ€™re different sides of the same coin, and we need to have both sides for that coin to have true value.

Thatโ€™s all for now. In future articles in this series, weโ€™ll look at how happy writers in tech are with their salaries, what tools they use, and what they did in previous jobs. See you then.

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More salary survey stats:

UX Writing Salaries in 2022: Survey Report

UX Writing Gender Insights

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