What Is a UX Writer’s Role in Localization?

by | Sep 9, 2020

You may have heard of the term UX writer and may have wondered what a UX writer does. A UX writer is someone who writes to produce the best user experience for their audience. They aim to write text that is as clear, concise, and useful as possible to guide the user in interacting with a website or app in both domestic and international markets.

UX Writer

What Exactly Is UX Writing?

UX writing refers to the art of crafting texts appearing throughout the interface of websites, mobile apps, etc. This type of text may be called copy, but UX writing is different from copywriting. Copywriting is all about getting the attention of and attracting potential customers. It’s marketing, not user experience. UX writing aims to guide the user through a digital interface in an intuitive manner, which is an important consideration when localizing your application for other languages.

The websites and apps that we use in our daily lives are becoming increasingly more complex. Thus, the need for clear user guidance within them is essential, especially when localizing for international markets. Users will increasingly seek out those interfaces that provide the most natural and fluid experiences. Because of this need for quality user experience, UX writing is now a discipline in its own right.

UX writers create the copy found throughout a digital product. It could be said that a UX writer’s job is to deliver the messaging of a product from the inside out. To do this effectively, a UX writer must conduct research to acquire a deep and thorough understanding of the user. This includes understanding the culture of your target audiences.

Who Becomes a UX Writer?

Many copywriters become UX writers. A copywriter’s job is to help sell a product, but a UX writer goes beyond that. They must aim to give value to users by crafting an experience that will improve their daily online lives. If you are old enough, you may remember that software used to come with a separate manual. Today, that “manual” is written directly into the digital interface itself. The UX writer’s job is to guide the user through the digital experience in an intuitive manner and build a bridge spanning the user’s needs and the company’s goals.

However, if you surveyed ten UX writers, you’ll likely find ten people from ten different professional backgrounds – journalism, architecture, physics, a former UX Writing Hub student. This diversity is because UX writing is a relatively new discipline, but one with a large and growing demand. As such, people from a wide range of backgrounds are getting into a field that presents them with many exciting opportunities.

What Skills Are Needed to Become a UX Writer?

There is no commonality among UX writers, leaving the door open to nearly anyone interested and motivated. However, there are some important skills and qualities for a successful UX writer to possess.

  • A Designer’s Mindset – Digital design isn’t only about aesthetics, it’s about making products function well for the user. The designer’s mindset consists of continually thinking, “how can I improve the user’s experience here?”
  • Active Listening – Being a UX writer means being open to different suggestions and ideas. UX writing is all about the alignment of user needs and business goals. 
  • Interpersonal Relationships – A UX writer needs to be able to coordinate between developers, UX designers, product supervisors, and sometimes even stakeholders. Developing deep relationships with all of these people is an essential part of the job.
  • Constant Learner – Unlike a field such as accounting, which has been around for centuries, UX writing is still developing with the UX community’s help, including online UX writing groups. Here writers can stay in the loop and/or participate in discussions. UX writing methodologies are evolving without pause, so writers must have the motivation to keep up with the latest developments.

What Else Do UX Writer’s Do?

UX writers don’t spend their entire time writing microcopy, such as witty error messages. They also help create the product or brand voice and ensure that the content creators can easily understand and use it. To accomplish this, UX writers are responsible for creating a content style guide. Such a document outlines the writing principles and guidelines for the content and copy of the company’s products or services and helps ensure your message is translated appropriately in other markets.

UX Writers in Localization Teams Around the World

UX writers are essentially product designers who form part of the product design team. They assist in the creation of a website, mobile app, or feature from the very beginning. They’re a member of the team that determines what should be added to a digital product. The UX writer’s position might be regarded as the most innovative one in the team as it involves finding solutions to problems the end-user would potentially face.

If you are surprised that a job such as UX writing exists, so were many companies until fairly recently. Companies who had the foresight to understand the value of UX writers (e.g., Wix, Booking, and Google) are thriving due to a large extent to the positive effects that UX writing has had on their user interfaces.

  • Example: Booking.com has a UX writer for every five or six designers. In contrast, Oracle has been much slower to recognize the importance of UX, with a ratio that’s approximately 100:1 – and their products have suffered accordingly.

Many other international marketing companies are realizing that having a UX writer on their product and localization teams, which is driving an exponential increase in the hiring of UX writers.

Final Thoughts

In the world of international marketing, you will never understand how much you need a talented UX writer until you’ve had the chance to work with one. The same goes for a top-quality Translation Management System (TMS) such as Localize. Contact us to learn how we can help you with your localization and international marketing startegy.