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🧠Boring brain, las contraseñas and Grandma’s words 👵🏽 / UX Writing Summarized #4/2019


UX Writing Summarized

March 19 · Issue #4 · View online

Every busy UX writer can save time reading this.

I’ve been in a whirlwind. 🌪
For the past EIGHT weeks, I’ve been marinated in all things UX writing. I’ve been constantly eating, living, dreaming about tone and voice, UX research, conversation mining, job stories, style guides, content elements, proto-copy and 11-star experiences. 😵
It’s been a blast being one of the few first students in the UX Writing course, hosted by Yuval Keshtcher and his team at UX Writing Hub. From now on, I’m an officially trained UX writer! It was easily worth all the super-early mornings, the breakdowns, the setbacks. I’ve been in a whirlwind, and yet here I am. 👨🏻‍🎓
Among MANY other things, here are my 3 key take-aways from this awesome experience:
  • Writing always starts with research. Ann Handley says it best in her book, Everybody writes: “The more the think, the easier the ink”.
  • Talk to people, and then use their words in your microcopy (it’s called vocabulary hunting and conversation mining).
  • Kill lorem ipsum forever – use Whimsical to write early on for wireframes, and use Figma to collaborate with designers in the prototype phase. 👯‍♂️
Enough about me. Now it’s all for you:  

A UX Writer’s Journey Into the Deep … Parts of the Brain, and 3 Insights From It.
Here’s the thing:
Whatever decision people end up making, the brain is where the action happens. To better understand which word to choose, become best friends with your brain and others’ brains. From the almost 800-page book Behave, Swedish designer and UX writer Samuel Stenberg delivers three great insights on words and our brain. 
The take-aways:
  1. Be boring. The frontal cortex and the cerebellum (pardon my Latin) are two important parts of your brain. Think of the first time you drove a car. It was probably hard and required all your attention – that was your frontal cortex at work. Once you’ve learned to do something more routinely, the cerebellum takes the wheel. So don’t name things in unconventional ways, since that draws unnecessary attention to the unusual word choices. Sometimes, being boring is better.
  2. No new stuff for stressed people. We’re not designed to learn or memorize stuff when we’re stressed. Go more conservative in places where people using your app are stressed, and be a little more innovative and surprising when you teach them how things work (to keep engagement up).  
  3. Surprise sometimes. You’ve heard of dopamine, right? The reward chemical? Here’s some news: Dopamine isn’t about the rush from the reward. It’s about the good chance of a reward happening. We love that uncertainty. Therefore, let your words surprise sometimes, but not all the time (think of the flying Asana unicorn or Slack’s random welcome messages). Bam!
The quote:
Don’t put more work on the user’s frontal cortex than necessary. Cut down on the words.”  
UX Writing: cuando pronuncio la palabra futuro, la primera sílaba pertenece ya al pasado
Here’s the thing:
Hablas español? Well, maybe you do (quite a lot of people from Spain, Mexico, Peru and Brazil are reading these lines right now). If you don’t: Google-translate this nicely philosophic text from Carlos Candiani, UX writer at BBVA in Mexico City, to fully grasp it. Or just read this:
The take-aways:
  1. The future for UX writers starts now, and the discipline continues to be formed. Here’s a great definition: the UX writer creates the content of a product, with a focus on people and based on the objectives of the company. Create content with a focus on people!
  2. Every story has a beginning, a climax and an ending, said Colombian Noble Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. The same three-stage formula can be used in UX writing. Ask yourself: What is the first thing that I tell my reader? What’s that person’s most important decision? And how do I close? See: beginning, climax, ending! 
  3. Write in your language. Avoid anglicisms such as “password”. The Spanish word “contraseña” is way better. 
Bonus: Bruno Rodrigues and Camila Tavares (both in Rio de Janeiro) are thought leaders within UX writing in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
The quote:
“This is just the beginning. UX writing is here to stay.”
How I work as a UX writer – One Design Community – Medium
Here’s the thing:
As a UX writer, you’re the words ninja in the team. You are also the newbie at work. Getting to know your teammates, understanding your customers and asking tough questions is the way to go. Shawn Roe, the author of the article, is a content strategist and UX writer at Capital One in Washington DC.
The take-aways:
  • Meet as many people as you can (designers, managers, interns, directors), and let them know that you care about the same things they care about. Do what you can to help them achieve their goals! 
  • Imagine that you’re explaining what to do to your grandma. What would you tell her? Often, the final content isn’t far from the words I say aloud, says Shawn Roe. And “nobody loves a simple solution more than Grandma!”
  • The UX writer is not the only one in the team writing; it’s everybody’s job. A great UX writer can help educate the team by asking simple questions, like: What’s the customer trying to do? Log in? Okay, and what happened? “The data she inputs doesn’t match our system record”. Okay, is it definitely her password, or could it be her username? Could it be either of them? How about: “Looks like you entered the wrong username or password. Please try again.” 
The quote:
“UX writer seems to be a pretty hot role in tech companies these days, yet even my mom isn’t sure exactly what I do. Mom, I write the words you see in your mobile app.”
Come to Copenhagen in September – meet me and new UX friends! ☀️🍻
Just imagine yourself in Copenhagen, Denmark in mid-September, drinking Mikkeller beer with more than 800 new designer and writer friends at the two-day UX conference, Design Matters 2019. All day, you will learn great new stuff from the best people at Figma, Duolingo and Robinhood.
There will be nerd tracks, workshops (one about UX writing!), nice coffee breaks and night talks. Again … imagine yourself in Copenhagen on the 18th and 19th of September. It can happen! 
I went there in 2017, and it was just great. Hazel Jennings, content strategist at Instagram, talked about writing just like Kurt Vonnegut: brief, simple and conversational. Tamara Hilmes and Marina Posniak from Spotify held a workshop on how to write error messages in a sane way. And Amy Roberts, designer at Google Chrome, advised all designers and writers to “get out of the way – and stay out of the way”. 
Are you going to get a ticket to the next Design Matters? Great! Now, with the code PLEASECOPYME you will get a discount of more than 100 bucks (around 10 percent of the full price). Don’t wait too long. I hope to meet you there!
Podcasts, (another) newsletter and a genius bar for UX writers
Are you looking for a podcast for people who care about content? You’re probably looking for The Content Strategy Podcast from Brain Traffic. In episode #15, Angela Gorden, UX writer at Dropbox, offers ideas on how to ensure writing is a part of any project right from the start. (26 minutes long)
Are you looking for a brand-new podcast for UX writers and content strategist? You’re certainly on the hunt for Writers of Silicon Valley. In the very first episode, Patrick Stafford talks to Roy West, who’s the design director of UX Writing at Uber (formerly at Google). Do listen! (48 minutes long)
Are you looking for a job as a UX writer? You better start by checking out UX Writer Jobs, the newsletter which vacuums Europe and North America for new jobs within UX writing, content design and content strategy. Gordon Macrae is your funny guidance officer (he writes in a way that makes me happy, and makes me want to read). 
Are you in San Francisco on Wednesday evening, April 17th? There will be a UX Writing Genius Bar, hosted by San Francisco UX Writers Meetup, at the Dropbox Headquarters. It’s a drop-in for UX writers and aspiring writers to show up and get 1:1 expert advice from UX writers and content strategists from Slack, Facebook, Adobe, Intuit, Dropbox and UX Writing Collective. 
Om du kan läsa det här förstår du svenska, och i så fall kan det säkert vara intressant för dig att läsa mitt nyhetsbrev om copywriting, på svenska. Det är givetvis gratis, och redan har över 500 pers signat upp. Det senaste numret handlar om 1A-skrivrådet som många missar (*kittlar din nyfikenhet*). 
Well, this is me (again) 😉
Our son Elis and I in Parque de Málaga.
Our son Elis and I in Parque de Málaga.
You’re still reading. Thank you very muchas! I’m Mattias, by the way, an officially trained UX writer and father of two from Sävedalen, a suburb of Gothenburg in Sweden with 10,000 inhabitants. 
For the past 5 weeks, I’ve been on the Costa del Sol in sunny Spain for a “workation” with my family of four. What a great time we’ve had! We’ve strolled along the beach, dug deep sand holes, eaten ice cream (Desiderio in Malaga!), seen the magnificent caves in Nerja and the massive bridge in Ronda, tried out numerous playgrounds and enjoyed several bottles of wine (new favorite: El Loco Verdejo from Vinos Sanz in Rueda). 🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸
Also, I’ve recently published my first article on Medium. Check it out if you want to know which mistake makes your UX process scary expensive. 🙀
And … would you please do me a favor? Forward this newsletter to the one friend you think will like it, and tell your friend to subscribe right here. 🙏🏻 
The next issue will be out on April 16, 2019.
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