As a B2B content writer, I’m seeing a remarkable increase in the demand for UX writing. I’ve worked with some very talented UX web designers, design leads and developers over the past few years. I’ve learned a great deal from them about the value of UX elements like:
- Website navigation bars
- Page content layout
- Headers and footers
- Desktop and mobile-specific elements
- Image and text blocks
- Information architecture practices
I’ll admit, when I first heard of UX writing, I wasn’t sure of how the two disciplines overlapped.
The traditional order of UX design vs UX writing often defaults to design-first. Many companies have pre-defined page templates, and they simply have their writers create content to “fit” the template. Yet leading UX experts argue that information hierarchy should dictate design. It shows how important it is for designers and content/copywriters to collaborate, and writers need to be aware writers need to be about UX and UI best practices.
Daring to Sit Firmly on the Fence about Conversion Rate Optimization
I’ve seen both sides of arguments about conversion rates. Joanna Wiebe from CopyHackers says that digital copy and written content are the main driver of driving website visitors to take an action, like calling, emailing, or dropping into your store or office. Others, like Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL.com say that great user experiences drive most conversions.
I will leave it to you, Constant Reader (as Stephen King would put it) to decide whether it’s buttons, page layout and usability have more to do with driving users to take action on a website, or if it’s the words on the page.
Responsive CMS platforms like WordPress, Sitefinity and Drupal make it easier for content writers to simply write headlines, subheads, paragraphs and even button text without needing to obsesss about user interface (UI) design. Yet UX writers will still take the time and effort to ensure their content and copy is presented effectively for readers to consume on their device of choice. They may do A/B testing or conduct usability testing with existing clients, or contract a usability expert.
If you want readers to stick around on your website long enough to read what you’ve published, and share it with their peers, your user experience needs to be innovative and interesting.
There needs to be a logical flow from the top of the page to the bottom, and from page to page. Users expect to be able to navigatge to the content they want with just two clicks.
Great User Experience – Vital for Business Apps and Websites
I first learned about the importance of UX and UI when I worked with Open Text, a content management services and software company. I worked with clients, and Open Text UX specialists to understand ways to improve business applications like document management to improve user adoption and engagement. I had the opportunity to learn more when I contracted with the Digital Enterprise Business UX team at Rogers Communications.
I learned about relationships between digital design, copy and user experiences and how they can make a website or app a credible, trusted, engaging source of information. I’ve participated in a number of website/application usability testing sessions, both as an evaluator and observing other user evaluators.
Semantic Studios, a respected UX consulting provider based in Ann Arbor, MI offers an interesting way of thinking of digital user experience, with their UX Honeycomb model. It describes UX as being made up of qualities like:
- Usefulness. – Does your content and UX meet the needs of your target audience? Does it have the right context and value for their role, lifestyle and/or needs?
- Usable. – Is your application or website easy to use by the sort of visitor/user you are targeting?
- Desirable. – Efficiency is important, but does the content fill a need, address a problem, and stir emotion in those who consume it? Do people want the content, and want to come back for more?
- Findable. – Is the app/website navigation and searchability effective, so users can find the data/content they want or need?
- Accessible. – Can people with physical/visual/cognitive challenges read/use an app/website? Either with assistive devices or settings on their computer?
- Credible. – It’s well known that blogs, ebooks, whitepapers and other digital content has authority. Web design also has an impact on credibility.
- Valuable. – Quoting Sematic Studio’s Peter Norville, “Our sites must deliver value to our sponsors. For non-profits, the user experience must advance the mission. With for-profits, it must contribute to the bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.”
Your written content needs to be convincing, clear and conversational, so you need to invest either the time to write great content, or the money in outsourcing the work to a capable freelancer.
Page Layouts, Whitespace, Bullets and Paragraph Length
Have you ever opened up a website, and it seemed like each page was a wall of words, or the content seemed to be haphazardly thrown on to the page? Good UX practices say that there should be a good balance of images, text and white space to make reading on a browser easier. According to UX gurus, paragraphs should only be three to four lines or sentences in length.
Effective content layout on a page, and navigation from page to page keeps a reader engaged in your content. Whitespace, bullet points, subheads and other design elements can either draw a user in to read your content, or send them bouncing off to find what they want from one of your competitors.
Are you looking for ways to better structure your website content for your target audience? Are you migrating your content to a new CMS platform, and need help ensuring the content is suitable for multiple devices and browsers?
Let’s connect and discuss your digital content development needs.