In a nutshell
It’s oh so digital! The devices, the content, the experience. It’s not this way since only yesterday. Too much content already exists out there and the added pressure to be relevant is constantly rising. That’s why it’s about time to talk about how to integrate UX writing’s expertise and functionality into content strategies. I will be offering a hands-on approach based on recent trends in the field, including general background reasoning.
Better user experience for all things content
Any content strategy will live and die by the relevance of the content shared across the selected channels. Relevance – the feeling, that emerges in your target audience heads. The number one factor that determines the success of your content. But relevance is a complex thing. It’s a subjective feeling, it needs good timing and at least for all digital content it heavily depends on the whole user experience, including design, user interfaces and flows. So if you want to increase the impact of your content strategy you should incorporate user experience writing right from the start. Don’t fret, it can be done.
UX writing’s nature and its contribution
Most likely, within an organization’s processes, UX writing will be inspired and informed by user research—qualitative and quantitative findings for that matter. The user journey lays the groundwork for a UX writer’s tasks, while also dealing much earlier with the product itself, unlike a marketing writer’s approach to deal with the copy at the end of production. Caroline Pieracci, Content Strategy & UX Writing Lead at the Liip agency in Zurich, agrees that UX writing is still a comparatively young discipline: "In my experience, the bigger the company, the more likely it is to invest money in UX writing. But generally speaking, we're still in the early stages."
So UX writers try to pave an ideal, smooth way how users can reach the actual content that is relevant to them as well as possible. Their text serves users of the digital product. Users might start with the first interaction with an app. The app is guiding them with the help of accessible copy in the onboarding process. Also, the copy written should encourage people to stay longer in the app. The ongoing use later on in the user journey, for example, is supposed to be triggered by transparent and intuitive wording in the navigation menu.
An elevated user experience
“I can easily find what I need”
Thanks to this elevated user experience and the reassuring feeling of “I can easily find what I need”, it is far more likely that the user also experiences the content of an article, a helpful product description or transcripts along with embedded podcasts as relevant. And what’s relevant is highly likely to be perceived as useful, valuable and even desirable—which is what user experience is all about.
The crucial bit of perfection
A content strategy, as far as we at Sapera understand it, is a concretion and a plan for executing a communication strategy. The communication strategy defines target groups, messages, topics etc.. The content strategy translates those into channels, formats and content in terms of text, videos, infographics etc..
The goals are mostly about reach, thought leadership and leads, so very important things to achieve. Your marketing strategy and well-executed marketing copy should usher the reader to your blog post, thought piece or white paper. But don’t lose them just because of bad UX copy. Due to the vast abundance of content out there, this crucial bit of perfection can make the difference.
New terms for marketing
What do users understand faster and more clearly?
The research approach of UX writing can also be useful for other business areas. Caroline Pieracci knows this from her own experience: "Microcopy is closer to UX, content is closer to marketing. In many projects, I am the link between the two departments. Example: In a UX writing project, we just tested terms. What do users understand faster and more clearly? This wording is now also used in marketing."
How to blend UX Writing into your content strategy
The most important step content strategists need to take: Consider UX and the corresponding writing as an important precondition of sparking a feeling of relevance in the heads of the target audience. The user always encounters UX copy on its way to the actual content. To ensure a holistic “one world experience”, both in terms of content and interaction, UX writing needs to be integrated into your content strategy. Best from the start, but better late than never.
This means in concrete terms: When you plan your content, you also need to think about the resources for UX writing. Do you need an in-house UX writer or is a freelancer OK to begin with? And what expertise is needed? Larry Swanson, UX Content Strategist at Elless Media in Phoenix, USA, says: "UX writers can use their expertise to help with content planning. For example, when it comes to producing modular content that is used in several places on a website and works differently than one-off texts."
Your content production process needs to reflect the integration of UX writing. I can say from my own experience here at Sapera: Sometimes it’s difficult to define where UX copy and microcopy end and a regular editor takes over, who will approve which kind of copy, what’s the intention of the UI designers behind different text fields, who will be signing off everything and so on. Again, this shows: If your content also lives on your website, it only can work out if you keep the UX copy in mind.
UX writing increases the impact of your content
As more and more content is perceived via digital devices, it's crucial to take into account the users’ experience. The user’s journey and the words they read on it are of great significance when it comes to elevating the relevance of the target content (an article or the like). Integrating UX writing into your content strategy means acknowledging it as a success factor in the first place. Secondly plan for according resources, expertise and processes. Yes, it takes an extra effort. But in the contest for relevance going the extra mile is worth it.