UX Writers vs. UX Designers: The Difference, and Why It Matters

I’ll be honest: when I first started exploring the world of user experience (UX) as a copywriter and digital media professional, I found it a little overwhelming.

Even with nearly a decade of professional writing experience, this was a whole new world of content creation and strategy—with terms and processes completely foreign to me. 

It almost felt like learning a new language! 

Luckily I eventually found my footing, but something that especially tripped me up in the beginning was the difference between UX writing and UX design. 

Are these terms interchangeable? 

Is one position more senior than the other? 

Are they completely separate disciplines? 

How do I know which path to take?

It can be hard to decide or know where to start, especially if you’re on the fence or getting into UX from another field.

The truth is that UX writing and UX design are different disciplines, but they aren’t completely separate and shouldn’t be siloed. 

In fact, both writers and designers work very closely together to create enjoyable and cohesive digital experiences for users. 

Below, I break down the key differences between UX writing and UX design so you can understand what sets them apart from each other, and in turn, choose the best path for you.

UX Writing

UX Writing is the process of creating copy within the greater user interface (UI) of a digital product, like a website or app. 

Have you ever read the words “click here” or “buy now” on a clickable or tappable button? 

That’s an example of UX writing! The copy UX writers create is referred to as “microcopy” since it tends to be smaller pieces of bite-sized text, though the scope of UX writing can vary depending on the needs of your team, company, and product. Examples can include product pages, push notifications, emails, and even full-length style guides! 

Now, you might be thinking: isn’t UX writing just a fancier word for copywriting? 

Although both professions create copy for a brand or product and there is definitely overlap, UX Writers differ from traditional copywriters. 

While copywriters create promotional material to pique a user’s interest in a product, UX writers create material that guides users through a specific process or action once they’re already interacting with the product. 

Copywriting focuses on conversion rate optimization (like gaining more leads and sign-ups), while UX writing utilizes product education to reduce churn and increase retention.

UX writers are so much more than just creating short, quippy microcopy. They’re an integral part of the design team, responsible for creating content design systems, defining the voice and tone of digital products, and building out user flows, often completely from scratch!

On top of it all, UX writers need to have a deep understanding of user behavior and will often perform UX research to better inform their content and copy.

To get a better idea of UX writing vs UX design, let’s take a look at a stripped-down version of Asana’s sign-up page. It has every piece of text you see on the actual page, but none of the design elements.

The microcopy on Asana’s page is actionable and effective, but you have to admit, the page feels a little sterile and boring without any design flair. Plus, users don’t have any visual guidance for where to focus on the page.

To give you an even better idea of what UX writers can achieve, here are 35 examples of great UX Writing.

UX Design

While UX Writers are in charge of the copy, content, and general communication within an interface, UX designers are in charge of the composition, visuals, and general design of the interface itself. 

UX designers are in charge of creating the overall look, feel, and flow of digital products. This includes wireframing, prototyping, and creating an interface that works best for users and accomplishes the product mission.

At first glance, it may seem like UX designers carry out the same tasks as graphic designers, but this is only partly true. 

While UX designers are in charge of how an app or website looks, they’re also in charge of how it gets the user from point A to point B. 

This means they not only need to consider users’ aesthetic tastes, but also their needs, goals, interests, and abilities. 

It’s a process that involves a keen eye for detail and quite a bit of psychology, along with skills in research methodologies and the ability to communicate with the people who end up using their products.

For visual reference, let’s take it back to our Asana sign-up example. In this version, we see the design elements, but every piece of copy has been replaced with lorem ipsum.

The page certainly looks better thanks to some UX design, but without any text, it’s essentially meaningless. How are users supposed to know which CTAs correspond with which action, or what the page is even for? This is where UX writing comes in.

Based on the examples above, it’s clear that UX writing and UX design go hand-in-hand. You need both to achieve a successful user experience, and one can’t (or at least shouldn’t!) exist on its own without the other.

For even more UX design examples, here are some of the top UX design trends of 2024, according to UX designer Maja Mitrovikj.

How Can UX Writers and UX Designers Work Together?

At first, the responsibilities of UX writers and UX designers may seem rather siloed, or at the very least, part of a step-by-step pattern: 

The designer builds the interface, the writer writes copy for said interface. Or vice-versa. But while their tasks might be different, UX writers and designers are still working towards the same goal, and collaboration is key in order to create engaging digital products that users want to interact with again and again. 

Some ways to foster collaboration and creativity between writers and designers can include:

  • The product manager actively tries to discourage isolation between writers and designers, encouraging consistent communication among team members.
  • Making sure all team members—both writers and designers—are present for brainstorms, kick-off meetings, etc. (Please invite UX writers to the kickoff meeting—we want to be there!)
  • Getting both writers and designers involved in the process early on, so no one is playing catch up and everyone is on the same page.
  • Encouraging writers and designers to conduct user research together before embarking on a new project, and/or sharing their respective research findings with each other.
  • Writers and designers learning about each other’s responsibilities and expectations.
  • Scheduling UX writing office hours where designers and other team members can meet with the writer once a week and ask for their thoughts
  • Investing in building a voice and tone style guide to serve the rest of the company

All of these supportive tactics can and will lead to effective product design and better UX overall, along with more engaged writers and designers!


Why UX Writing Matters

We’ve already established that UX writers are an essential part of product design teams, but based on what we’ve been seeing in the industry, it doesn’t always feel that way. 

According to a case study by UX Writing Hub and Frontitude, which looked at the ratio of UX designers to UX writers at 44 different companies across the globe, 52% had only a single UX writer on their team, and companies in general tended to recruit their second UX writer when they had at least 7 UX designers on their team.


What can we take away from this? Well, considering these numbers with the recent layoffs for UX writing positions across the industry, it seems apparent that product design teams are prioritizing UX designers over UX writers, and most likely having their designers write copy for the interface on top of designing it. 

This might seem more efficient at first, and some teams may be able to get by if their designers have some knowledge of UX writing practices. 

But the truth is, UX writing is a completely separate skill that requires in-depth knowledge and expertise in order to be successful. 

UX designers usually aren’t well versed in things like content hierarchy, jargon, voice and tone, and so on. And why would they be? That isn’t their job!

It’s not really fair to expect designers to take on both roles, and by hiring a dedicated UX writer (or two, or maybe even three to four depending on your needs!), you allow other members of your team to focus on what they do best while allowing UX writers to deliver fantastic copy for your product that will yield far better results than potentially overwhelming your designers.

In Conclusion

Both UX writers and UX designers play an invaluable role on product design teams and are both integral pieces of the puzzle when it comes to creating effective, engaging digital products. 

UX writers focus on the copy within an interface and understanding users from that perspective, while UX designers focus on creating and laying out an interface that users want to, well, use. 

And while they’re two distinct disciplines, they must work together to deliver meaningful results. 

I hope you found this guide helpful in differentiating between UX writers and UX designers, and understanding the unique contributions they make to stellar UX!

If you want to learn more about ux writing, try our free UX Writing Course a taste of UX Writing : https://course.uxwritinghub.com/free_course

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