UX writing isn’t simply for the newest and greatest start-ups, companies who invest in design teams, or sexy fintech companies. It’s for everyone. That’s because UX writing and content design are flavors of communication that speak to users in every area, on every corner of the internet.
Every great writer deeply communes with their audience through accessible media—be it pen-and-paper, typesetting, or mobile and web interface. This is why UX writers can learn from classic texts that connect with readers beautifully, over time, with copy that transcends fad or pop-lingo.
I adore Winnie the Pooh; if you didn’t love him when you were a child, give him a chance now. Winnie’s creator A.A. Milne gifts us with a cast of lovable characters and fine writing which speaks to the heart of generations of readers. So, we can learn great UX writing from Winnie the Pooh.
“It is more fun to talk to someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words, but rather short, easy words like “How about lunch?”—Winnie the Pooh
How lovely to speak with someone in simple language. UX writers strive to communicate, not to impress. We’re also clear about our intentions: “Click here” is not nearly as helpful as “Start a project.” We’re clear about our goal: we’re inviting you to lunch.
“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”—Winnie the Pooh
UX writers firmly believe that small words make a big impact. We’re obsessive about detail and choosing just the right word. Folks may wonder why it takes so long to place a few little words on a screen. But we UX writers know a secret: simplicity takes time and effort. And small words make a profound impact in the world of user experience.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”—Christopher Robin
UX writing is a new field. Some UX writers are hired to revolutionize business strategies with the power of well-curated words. But often, UX writers have to beg our product managers to use consistent styling and microcopy that makes sense. We dearly hope we’re included in the final UX design review before interface changes are pushed into production.
Much to our dismay, microcopy is often the very last thing considered before (or after) a feature is pushed out. But we keep trying.
At times like these, don’t despair—even if you’re surrounded by people who don’t value or believe in your work, know that your ideas are valuable, your vision is worthy, and you are good at what you do!
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”—Winnie the Pooh
Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. And read your writing out loud. Sometimes what things sound like in your head looks different when you share them. That’s a good thing.
“The things that make me different are the things that make me, me.”—Piglet
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”—Eeyore
UX writers are advocates for inclusion. We consider the geographic and cultural climate of our audience as a priority. We write for humans who are autistic, hearing-impaired, color-blind, and children-of-all-ages. It’s our job to think about people who are sometimes overlooked.
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”—Winnie the Pooh
UX writers go where our users are found so we can really get to know them. This is UX research, a critical component in UX writing. Go find your users and listen to them in their own environment. Be a fly on the wall and listen to support calls, onboarding sessions, and read forums where users talk about their concerns. One of my awesome UX writing instructors taught me: the best UX copy comes from users themselves.
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” —Charlie Chaplin
OK, so this is a quote by Charlie Chaplin, but… Winnie the Pooh would approve. A little humor can be the best solution. Sometimes it’s in your microcopy. Sometimes it’s in design meetings to let off a little steam. Let’s feel the significance of communicating with our users, but not take ourselves too seriously.
“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”—Winnie the Pooh
We UX writers care about our users. That’s the heart of what we do—we write to make people’s lives better.
UX writers, let’s not get stuck in our desire to emulate Google Material Design or revolutionize the world of Chatbot and AI writing. While we forge new tools and conventions in the UX writing field, let’s keep in mind that the essence of what we do is communicate with people we care about. Let’s learn from the latest and greatest and also return to classics, like Winnie the Pooh, who never goes out of style.