Is UX Writing the Same as Copywriting?

Joe Bellavance
Joe Bellavance

No, UX writing is not quite the same thing as copywriting. However, in the world of B2B copywriting tools and skills, it’s possible for an experienced copywriter to make a great UX writer. We’re taking a deeper look at  UX writing vs copywriting to understand why these skills are different, yet related. Let’s dive in! 

What Counts as UX Writing?

UX writing refers to the text that is used in UX design. UX, an acronym for “user experience,” is the key term here—as a UX writer, you’ll be creating copy that helps people navigate through digital products. Take a moment and think about your favorite website or app. Where do words appear? If you really think about it, you’ll realize there is a lot of copy that appears outside of blog posts or long chunks of text. For example, UX writing includes:

  • Menu text
  • Definitions
  • Buttons
  • Labels
  • Chatbots
  • Error messages
  • User instructions

These types of copy, also known as “microcopy,” help the users move easily through the digital space on their customer journey. After all, the main goal of UX writing is to make the interface easy to use for everyone who interacts with it. 

What Is the Difference Between UX Writing and Copywriting?

The main difference when it comes to UX writing vs copywriting is the purpose and length. 

  1. Purpose

For UX writing, the point of the copy is to guide the users through the online experience. With copywriting, these pieces of content are typically meant for marketing purposes. This could include things like blog posts, social media content, or ad copy. The purpose of copywriting is typically to acquire leads and create brand awareness. 

  1. Length

As we’ve mentioned, UX writing is usually quite brief. Copywriting is typically longer, due to the different nature of the content. 

What Is the Difference Between UX Writing and Technical Writing?

Technical writing typically involves documenting or explaining a complicated process in a way that is accessible and easy to understand. Examples of technical writing include instruction manuals or the standard operating procedures for a company. While technical writing and UX writing both involve simplifying language to help users on their journey, technical writing tends to be longer and can be in a physical format. UX writing is usually shorter and limited to a digital format. 

Can a Copywriter Be a UX Writer?

Absolutely! In fact, many UX writers are copywriters or have past experience in that job. Many of the same skills that copywriters use can be directly translated into UX writing. Important skills that can be used in any type of writing, but particularly in the UX realm, are: 

  • Concision – With such a limited amount of space to make your point, it’s important to be able to use the minimum number of words to convey the needed information. Think about how small a button can be. What’s the most concise way to tell the user what that button does? 
  • Critical thinking – Part of your job as a UX writer is to analyze and understand how users move through a digital experience. What are the logical pathways? Where might someone get confused and need some copy to explain the next step? Critical thinking skills are vital for this type of writing.
  • Detail-oriented – Like any writing, the details matter. An eye for details like stray instructions that need to be cleaned up, missing punctuation, or even simple spelling mistakes is a valuable thing for a UX writer. 
  • Ability to shift perspectives – As writers, we must be able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. This is extremely important with UX writing, as people who access these online spaces are coming from a wide range of backgrounds, and each brings their own unique perspectives with them. In UX writing, shifting your point of view to make sure your instructions and navigational guides are accessible to different audiences is vital.

How Do You Learn UX Writing?

There are many ways to engage with UX writing for beginners. One of the best ways to start learning is to simply start paying attention to the UX copy you come across on a daily basis. You may be surprised to find what an effort it may take to be able to pick out examples—after all, the best UX copy leads you through a digital space without bringing attention to itself. 

As you’re navigating through websites and apps, try to notice what works and what doesn’t. Are there any menus with awkward phrases you’ve seen? Perhaps there’s a really great app that is really easy to use—what type of UX copy do you see? This is a great exercise to start developing your UX writing muscles.

How Do You Practice UX Writing?

One of the best ways to practice UX writing is to create your own websites and digital experiences. There are many free website builders out there that can help you with the UX design process. 

Another great tool for professional writers is Slice. Our platform was made by writers for writers, specifically to make your job easier. We’ve included many different features—from the ability to divide your projects into smaller pieces to the ability to customize the layout for your unique needs and more. If you’re ready to start practicing your UX writing in a digital environment designed for writers, sign up for Slice today!

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