When working on an app, most developers spend a tremendous amount of time improving and testing all the features and live little to no time for UX writing. But user experience writing is just as important as application development, as it is the number one thing that users come in contact with. 

UX writing refers to every block of text present in the app, from buttons to notifications and instructions, and is oftentimes the major line of communication between the user and the app itself. 

To prove how important UX writing is, think of your most used app. Now imagine it without all the text. No guidelines, no instructions, just plain buttons that you have to figure out how to use. I know that the majority of apps are extremely intuitive and we have become used to what icons mean, but that does not apply to everyone. Apps should be easy to use for anyone who needs them, and good UX writing can help you achieve just that, by complimenting the design and features of the app.

With that being said, what can you do to deliver top-notch UX writing, that will not only guide the user but also come as a nice addition to the overall app?

Include the writing in the design process

One of the first mistakes that developers make is not including the UX text in the development process, believing it is something that can be done after the app is finished. But many times, integrating the text into the app after development is finished can reveal some important UI issues. This is why UX writing should be crafted together with the app’s main features, so it can be tested and, if necessary, modified. 

Skilled UX writers will be able to provide the team with valuable information for the design process, as oftentimes, after discussing some of the design decisions made, it can be revealed that issues are caused by the design copy itself, and not the text. 

But let’s presume that you did not manage to find a good UX writer in time, and you don’t want to postpone the start of the development process. What do you do then? 

A simple technique referred to as Lorem Ipsum in the design world, can be of great help. It basically means integrating filler text in the app, to have an idea of how it would look when the app is finished. The Lorem Ipsum text includes parts of Cicero’s “De Finibus bonorum et Malorum”, but includes corrupted words, as to make the text lose its coherence and keep the focus on the overall aesthetic, rather than the meaning of the words.

Keep in mind, though, that even though this method may work in the initial phase of the design process, it may not be suited for late stages, simply because different lines of text lead to different visual perspectives. What looks good with the Lorem Ipsum text, may not look as great with the actual block of text that you are planning to use in the final product. 

Ensure the text is scannable

There are very few people that read each and every word of an entire block of text. The majority of them take a quick glimpse and scan the text to find the information they are looking for. If you need to include long text elements, make sure the way the text is written is scannable and all the important information is easy to find. To do so, you can recur to all sorts of typography tricks

Use different font sizes to separate the text in a way that helps the user identify exactly what they are looking for. Titles and subheadings need to differentiate themselves from the rest of the content, and the easiest way to do so is to use a larger font size. You can also use different colors or even different font styles altogether. 

Focus on bringing the vital information forward, and leave the rest on a secondary place. Think of the times when you had to do a presentation. The important information is the one you would normally include on the slides, and the rest of it would just be presented verbally.  

Include eye-catching elements

In a study that focuses on user behavior, it was revealed that, when scanning a page, readers have a tendency to stop on numeric elements. While it is recommended that, when writing content, you should spell the numbers, the situation is slightly different when it comes to app design. People tend to associate numbers with facts and statistics, which is why the brain is trained to stop on the numbers, whenever it finds one. You can also emphasize numeric elements by using different fonts, sizes, and colors, as well as font styles.

Other elements, such as small images scattered throughout the text may also work to catch the reader’s eye, so you may want to give them a try as well. Other graphic elements, such as drawings, can also help with directing the user’s focus towards the important pieces of your content. 

Make sure not to overstuff your pages with such elements, as users will find it confusing. Focus on highlighting a few important areas, otherwise, you may lose their interest or risk for your message to get lost between colorful imagery. 

Grammar flexibility is a must

There is no reason for me to emphasize how important it is to provide users with correctly-written text that leaves no room for grammar mistakes or typing errors. This is why many developers recur to professional UX writers, to ensure no little detail is left out. But apps are not exactly the best place for complex word constructions and long paragraphs.

In some cases, you need to set aside unnecessary punctuation and become more grammar-flexible. Take instructions for example. If you have to provide instructions for what a certain button does, explain things in the most simple, short and concise, to ensure the information gets to the reader as fast promptly as possible.

If you aim for your app to be used internationally, try to keep away from passive voice, as some phrases may be hard to understand by non-English speakers. 

Maintain a cohesive tone of voice

Depending on the target audience, try to use a voice that appeals to them and does not make the content feel too stiff. If you are designing an app for kids, for example, using complex words may not be the most appropriate way to catch their attention. 

At the same time, try to stay away from using too many synonyms when writing content. If you choose the word “remove”, for the action of removing elements, don’t change it to “delete” on the confirmation screen. This may confuse the user and interrupt the course of what should be a simple action. 

Performing audience research prior to working on the app will help you solve most of these issues before you even know you have them. This way, you will know exactly who the person downloading your app is, and what they like. You will have a better understanding of what is visually appealing to them, what catches their eye and why you should do things in a certain way. 

Bottom line

By including UX writing in the development process since its incipient phase, the final result will be more cohesive and easy to obtain one. While the above-mentioned tips are not unbreakable rules, if you follow them, you stand a much better chance of delivering a final product that is user-centered, visually appealing and cohesive. Plus, it will make the overall development process much easier to finish and leave less room for mistakes before final testing. 

Author

Dorian Martin is a former developer turned professional writer, who uses his knowledge to provide valuable information for those looking to perform in application development. His past experience as a web and application developer allows him to share important advice for both newcomers and professionals in the industry. He writes for various tech-oriented blogs, as well as being a contributor to GrabMyEssay.

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