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🥁 Copy docs, drumbeats and the key to success 🤔/ UX Writing Summarized #3/2019


UX Writing Summarized

February 12 · Issue #3 · View online

Every busy UX writer can save time reading this.

You know what? When you spend the 4 minutes it takes to read this newsletter, you will save 68 minutes of your time. 68 minutes! 😲
That’s the time (plus 4 minutes) that it would have taken you to watch the design talk from Google, and to read through the articles from Invision and Dropbox, plus the three freebies at the end.
Of course, you can read and see it all, but since I’ve summarized only the good stuff, you don’t need to. In short, reading this newsletter is time well spent or time well saved. ✌️
You even save money when you buy the complete and updated guide on microcopy below. Everything’s a win for you.  
No time to waste. On with the snow! 🏂

Who’s a UX writer? | Inside Design Blog
Here’s the thing:
The voice of your digital product is what will differentiate it from other brands. That’s why UX writers are becoming even more integrated with design teams. And the job title isn’t going away, since the future world runs on copy: virtual assistants, chatbots and Alexa skills. But … what differentiates a UX writer from other writing and content roles? Patrick Stafford tells us. 👨‍🏫
The take-aways:
  1. What differentiates UX writers from other writing and content roles is this: a) UX writers write copy for products and web experiences, b) they collaborate with design teams, and c) they understand how the product strategy is tied to the content strategy (in other words: what’s happening with the rest of the business). 👬
  2. Writing microcopy is one part of what a UX writer does, but the role is far broader than that. A UX writer might create and implement a complete content strategy, together with designers. Often, the UX writer is also involved in user research, and needs to understand how to gain insights from collected data. 👩‍🔬
  3. Every UX writer is a content strategist. But not all content strategists are UX writers, since they don’t always create the content themselves. A UX writer plans out the content strategy, structures information AND writes the words. ✍🏻
The quote:
“UX writers are going to be a critical part of any company’s success.”
Illustration by Gabrielle Matte.
Illustration by Gabrielle Matte.
How to improve your design process with copy docs – Dropbox Design – Medium
Here’s the thing:
No more copy paste from emails and Slack! Instead, your UX team should have a copy doc, a home for all the copy for a project. Andrea Drugay, UX Writing Manager at Dropbox, paints the what, why, when and how to create a shared document to stay organized and consistent.  
The take-aways:
  1. Create your copy doc in Dropbox Paper or Google Docs, so that anyone on the project can easily see, review and comment on it. It’s a great way to gather fast and easy feedback. ⏩⏪
  2. Organize your copy doc with images (like screenshots or mockups), and tables beneath each image. Have a row for each copy element (such as H1, Body, and Button CTA) and three columns for each row. This is called a copy table. The columns are named Current copy, Final copy and Copy explorations. Move the winning copy variation from Copy explorations to Final copy, from where anyone who needs can copy and paste the correct, edited copy. Like this:
3. Let your team members vote on their favorites for final copy. Assign everyone an emoji, and have them place their emoji next to the copy variation they think works the best. 🥇
The quote:
“A copy doc is a one-stop “source of truth” for all the copy in a project.”
Design Is [Language] – Why Words Matter
Here’s the thing:
“Words are pretty awesome, pretty important, really crucial components in designing experiences and engaging with your audience. This makes UX content strategy and writing a powerful tool for shaping products and potentially shaping our future.” 
With these pretty awesome words, interaction designer Kai Haley opens for Maggie Stanphill and Joscelin Cooper in this 45-minute talk on why copy in your product is so important. They go through the power of words, the principles of good writing (spoiler: those are content, consistency and style) and how to turn this into practice, using style guides, tone mapping and narrative wireframes. 
Their overarching message:
It’s time to bring “language” into “design language systems”. 💪
That’s exactly what Sophie Tahran, UX writer AND content strategist, does with her great words on writing guidelines in the Design Systems Handbook from Invision. To read them: head to Chapter 5, and look for the Voice and tone headline. 
🗞This just in … Sophie Tahran will be speaking at the awesome conference in Stockholm in October, 2019. Her topic? The Art and Science of Naming. Super Early Bird tickets are released later today.
The take-aways:
  1. Content and design are working in tandem, since content could be everything, and design is how you design that everything. In short, they are totally intertwined. 👯‍♀️
  2. The words we use say a lot about us. James Pennebaker says we should pay attention to what he calls “function words”. Those are a handful of common words that we use often, such as pronouns (such as I, you, they), articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (to, of, for). For example: Confident people with high status use fewer “me, myself and I”, and as we age we tend to use more positive emotional words. 
  3. Consistency is key. Think of how repetition in a children’s book creates a satisfying drumbeat. It’s soothing and makes you feel safe, which forms the circumstances for trust. That’s why Google use Sign in, Set up and Open (instead of Authenticate, Configure and Load). 🥁🥁🥁
Apart from clever advice and a dozen new terms, this talk makes me want to read these books:
The quote:
“Wireframes without words are just shapes.” 😂👊🏻
Your bonus! ☀️
Microcopy: The Complete Guide is a great book if you want to write great microcopy. Author Kinneret Yifrah recently updated her handbook with chapters about accessibility, using humor in microcopy and a complete checklist for forms. My favorite quote from the book is “Users are the best copywriters” (so true!). It covers conversational writing, voice and tone design, and how to write error messages, empty states, 404 pages and buttons. 
Right now you get to buy Microcopy: The Complete Guide with a discount of 15 %. This discount is for the paperback, eBook and the bundle. Just use the code UWS3 at checkout at This thank-you-offer is valid until February 21, 2019, so hurry. 
Do you live in Sweden? Kinneret asks me to inform you that the Swedish postal service (PostNord) charges an additional 144 SEK to deliver the book. 😠 Now you know. Believe me, the book is still worth every krona. 
Want great FREE stuff? Here we go:
Know what the doctor says? Practice UX writing every day. Ryan Farrell, content and UX professional at Cartoon Food, sends one short exercise to your inbox, every day for 14 days. Write it in under 10 minutes and share it on Twitter. What’s not to like? 🙋‍♂️ 
What are you doing next Tuesday (February 19)? The folks at GatherContent are hosting a webinar with Scott Kubie, mentioned in #2, on How to get the writing done. In this 45-minute webinar, Scott will talk about the importance of workflow in getting your writing done, and will share his four-part framework for doing exactly that. The invitation says: “Nothing to prepare. Just get comfy. But you might want a notebook.” All you need to do is to reserve your seat. 🍿
I’m among the 16 chosen students in the first UX Writing course ever, hosted by Yuval Keshtcher and his team at UX Writing Hub. Halfway through the course, I can tell you that it’s challenging, intense and a big bag of fun. So far: Introduction to Microcopy ✔. UX Writing Research ✔. Creating a Content Style Guide ✔. 😵
The next course starts on March 18, 2019 (registration ends on February 16). If you are interested, you can now get free access to exclusive content from the course. Now. It’s like a mini-course, without all the projects, tasks, discussions, bonus material, and online sessions with mentors and classmates. Try it out! 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️
About me 👋
I’m Mattias, a freelance UX writer and copywriter from Sweden. I’ve been walking this Earth for 13,034 days. How about you? 
At the moment I’m reading Make Time (at home in our armchair) and Everybody Writes (on the bus commuting to our city office). I often enjoy silence more than music, but when I do, I listen to Rosie Thomas, Tom Odell and Tomas Andersson Wij ◀️ listen to him even if you don’t know any Swedish. 
This newsletter is read by you and 800+ people from companies such as BBC, Opentrends, Square, Dell, Capital One, Zalando, B2W Digital, Beblue and Jayway. You guys live and work in countries like 🇺🇸🇧🇷🇮🇹🇫🇷🇪🇸🇮🇱🇬🇧🇸🇪🇲🇽🇨🇭
Thanks a million. Are you missing your flag? Let me know!
The next issue will be out on March 19, 2019. 😋
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